Generative Schoolwork: How Students Can Ethically Use AI Tools

October 6, 2023
How students can ethically use AI tools

Generative AI has led to a huge uptick in automation and innovation across many different sectors and education is no exception. According to a recent survey, 43 percent of college students use ChatGPT and similar technology, while 60 percent reveal their schools or instructors have not specified how to manage ai on college campuses ethically. 

Since most people believe AI on college campuses will become the norm, you should learn to be a responsible user. AI is a valuable resource to enhance creativity and streamline productivity, but these tools also make it easier to cheat or plagiarize (yikes). So, let’s explore how to harness the power of generative AI and still maintain academic integrity.

Familiarize Yourself with the Rules

Every school has its own policies on the use of technology and external resources. Even if your instructors aren’t vocal about AI, don’t make assumptions about how they plan to grade AI work. If you’re not sure what to do, contact an academic advisor for clear-cut instructions, and send a quick email to each of your professors. They might have guidelines on utilizing AI for research and assignments responsibly.

Use Generative AI as a Learning Tool

When used correctly, generative AI is a valuable tool. This tech can help you come up with ideas, outline projects or brainstorm creative solutions. In other words, AI-generated content is a perfect starting point—from there, you can expand on the material with your research, analysis and insights. You can even use it to help you review material for tests, synthesize your notes and ease school-related stress.

Cite and Attribute All Content Generated by AI

When it comes to your schoolwork, transparency is crucial. If you incorporate AI-generated content into an assignment, cite the tool as one of your sources. Not only will this communicate academic honesty, but it also helps contextualize the information for your professors and fellow students. And let’s be honest, sometimes AI doesn’t pull accurate information. So, you still need to hunt down the citations (even if that’s not the most exciting part of the writing process).

And if you cite AI directly, here’s a breakdown of how to do this in various attribution styles (MLA, APA, and Chicago). It’s also wise to write a statement in the footnotes to emphasize how and where you used AI.

Review AI-Created Content Before You Submit

While generative AI is highly intuitive and efficient, it’s not perfect— the content you produce with these tools usually has errors. AI requires human oversight to ensure quality. Fact-check the information, edit the mechanics and tailor the format to meet all project requirements and reflect your writing capabilities. This process is one of the most critical initiatives you can take to sidestep plagiarism.

Avoid Using AI for Academic Quizzes or Exams

As AI on college campuses becomes more common, remember: these tools must not be used for exams—unless an instructor permits it. There could be some exceptions, but most professors will prohibit access to AI during quizzes, tests and other assessments. After all, the point of an exam is to evaluate your knowledge of the course material, not to search for answers on the internet. If you want to boost academic performance, try creating healthier study habits.

Ethical AI Usage Matters for Academic Success

Generative AI tools can enhance learning outcomes in multiple ways—but don’t overlook the importance of ethical and responsible usage. In all likelihood, the presence of AI on college campuses is here to stay, so be intentional about how you harness this technology. With the right approach, AI can streamline your study flow without compromising academic integrity.