Generative AI and Chat GPT

What is ChatGPT?

Launched in November of 2022, ChatGPT is an artificial intelligence chatbot developed by OpenAI. ChatGPT responds to your prompts and questions in writing. It can learn a writer's tone over time, act as an interviewer, and produce many of the materials college faculty rely upon to structure courses and provide excellent instruction. 

Think of Chat GPT like a very smart and knowledgeable language tutor. It has read and analyzed vast amounts of text from books, websites, and other sources, and it can use this information to understand and respond to questions and statements in a natural, conversational way.

When you ask Chat GPT a question or make a statement, it uses its understanding of language to generate a response that is as accurate and helpful as possible based on what it has learned. This can be incredibly useful for many different applications, from customer service chatbots to language translation tools to educational resources.

Overall, Chat GPT is a powerful tool that can help people communicate more effectively with technology, and it's a great example of how AI is changing the way we interact with computers and each other.

SMU Generative AI Policies

A group of SMU faculty working with the office of Faculty Success and the Center for Teaching Excellence developed three optional policies you can use to communicate expectations for Generative AI use in your courses. These three options have been automatically populated as selections in Simple Syllabus for your convenience.

Online Resources for Using ChatGPT in Your Class and Beyond

The following links will connect you with videos and articles detailing how you can use ChatGPT. Need a beginner tutorial? You'll find a great one here. Ready for something more advanced or developed specifically with university faculty in mind? We've got you covered. 

  What You'll Learn Link
  • From the MLA and Conference on College Composition and Communication joint task force on AI, this page connects you to valuable resources about what ChatGPT is, how it might impact teaching, drafting policies for AI use in the classroom, and more.
"Quick Start Guide to AI & Writing" 
  • Login and begin using ChatGPT
  • Use ChatGPT to write emails and create lesson plans
  • How to use and beat AI detectors
  • How to give instructions to ChatGPT to shape its responses, and even alter the tone or genre of the response
  • Further tips for producing specific responses from ChatGPT
  • Train ChatGPT to mimic your writing style
  • Style commands and keywords
  • Use ChatGPT to write syllabi, assignment instructions, examples, activities, and much more!
 "Elevate Your Teaching with ChatGPT"
  • Step-by-step instructions for using ChatGPT for lesson planning
  • Helpful tips for using alternative AI writing resources 
  • This recent article discusses McGill University professor Andrew Piper's decision to introduce students to ChatGPT and what he learned in the process
  • This article discusses Philosophy professor Wesley Wildman's use of ChatGPT in his data, society, and ethics, class at Boston University

"ChatGPR is Already Upending Campus Practices. Colleges Are Rushing to Respond" 

"Advice: Don't Write Like a Robot" 

"Opinion: It’s Not Just Our Students – ChaptGPT Is Coming for Faculty Writing" 

"Faculty Members Still Aren't Sure What To Make of ChatGPT" 
EDUCAUSE ARTICLES  Educause polled members on their view about AI. See results here.
  •  Will ChatGPT make us better, happier, teachers? By Betsy Barre
  • One Useful Thing, a substack about AI including how to use it in teaching. By Ethan Mollick, a professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pensylvania who studies entrepreneurship & innovation
  • Classroom Policies for AI Genterative Tools, compiled by Lance Eaton, director of digital pedagogy at College Unbound

  • Educator Considerations for ChatGPT, by OpenAI, which created ChatGPT

  • AI Text Generators and Teaching Writing: Starting Points for Inquiry, compiled by Anna Mills

  • AI Text Generators: Sources to Stimulate Discussion Among Teachers compiled by Anna Mills

  • Generative AI: Jennifer’s Curated List

  • MLA/CCCC Joint Task Force white paper: "Overview of the Issues, Statement of Principles, and Recommendations"


GPT Tools: Protecting Privacy & Data

The expanding use, availability, and popularity of Generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) engines such as ChatGPT, Dall-E, Bard etc. generates significant interest and concerns for higher education.  Along with these opportunities and concerns, there are some critical threats and important security implications that all SMU community members should take into consideration when using GPT tools.

While SMU will continue to review and consider more specific updated policies as this emerging field grows, all SMU community members should be aware of following existing best practices for data and privacy protections when using GPT or any technology systems. Publicly available generative AI systems are not secure or private!

As general guidance, prompts/queries submitted must comply with the following best practices:

  • Never submit any account information (usernames or passwords)
  • Never submit any Personally Identifiable Information (PII) or other sensitive or confidential material
  • Never submit queries or prompts that would lead to issues if they were to be made public
  • Never submit anything that includes your own or SMU’s Intellectual Property (IP)
  • Always follow the relevant existing SMU policies on Data Protection, Acceptable Use, FERPAAcademic IntegrityAttribution and Ethics
  • Never use public Generative AI tools to train AI models for people/human subjects unless those individuals have explicitly agreed to such usage and that the use of the data complies with SMU policies

This guidance is intended to include not just ChatGPT, but to all Large Language Models (LLMs) and AI chatbots including ChatGPT, GPT-n/x, Bard, LLaMa, BLOOM etc. 

All SMU community members are advised to take into consideration that all queries/prompts made to an public AI engine are collected and retained by the organization providing the AI service.  Intellectual Property (IP) can be lost by inappropriate sharing.

All SMU community members are advised to take into consideration that AI models are designed to return responses that appear convincing, and all output should be viewed from this position and not as authoritative.  LLMs have, in many cases, been trained on a large corpus of material, and as such there is potential that the provenance of material and data reproduced by the models may be obscure, carrying the potential risk of copyright or other IP infringement.  All output must be independently validated.

These guidelines apply to public cloud-hosted Generative AI tools, Generative AI tools or AI models hosted by SMU researchers will provide their own security disclaimers and should be appropriately developed with SMU’s IRB’s policies.


Q&A with Dr. Jennifer Culver -  Senior Academic Technology Services Director - Simmons School of Education and Human Development

Faculty may have several worries about students using Chat GPT, including:

  1. Academic Dishonesty: One of the biggest concerns is that students may use Chat GPT to cheat on assignments, tests, or exams by relying on it to generate answers for them. This can undermine the academic integrity of the institution and negatively impact the learning outcomes for both the students and the faculty.
  2. Lack of Critical Thinking: Another worry is that students may become too reliant on Chat GPT and may not develop critical thinking skills or the ability to solve problems independently. This can limit their creativity, problem-solving skills, and ability to think for themselves, which are essential skills for success in many fields.
  3. Limited Understanding: While Chat GPT can provide helpful information, it may not be able to provide the depth and breadth of knowledge that students need to fully understand complex topics or concepts. Relying too heavily on Chat GPT can lead to a limited understanding of the subject matter.
  4. Bias: Another concern is that Chat GPT may reflect biases and stereotypes present in the data it was trained on, which could perpetuate inequalities or reinforce problematic beliefs or assumptions.
  5. Privacy: Finally, faculty may worry about the privacy implications of using Chat GPT. Depending on how it is used and implemented, it may collect and store data about students and their interactions, which could be a potential privacy risk.
  1. Focus on application and analysis: Design assignments that require students to apply what they have learned to real-world scenarios or analyze complex problems. These types of assignments cannot be easily completed by relying solely on Chat GPT, as they require critical thinking, analysis, and problem-solving skills.
  2. Personalized Assignments: Assignments that require students to draw on personal experience or conduct original research can also discourage reliance on Chat GPT. For example, students could be asked to write a reflection paper or a case study based on their own experiences or observations. This would require them to use their own insights and knowledge rather than relying solely on a machine-generated response.
  3. Use Rubrics: Use rubrics to clearly outline the expectations for assignments and include specific criteria related to critical thinking, analysis, and original thought. This will encourage students to think independently and provide original work rather than relying on Chat GPT generated responses.
  4. Use Plagiarism Detection Tools: Use plagiarism detection tools to check the authenticity of student work. This can help identify assignments that rely too heavily on Chat GPT generated responses and deter students from submitting entirely machine-generated work.
  5. Check for Consistency: When grading assignments, check for consistency in the quality and tone of writing. If there is a sudden shift in writing quality or tone from one assignment to the next, this may indicate that a student has relied heavily on Chat GPT-generated responses.

Overall, the key is to design assignments that require students to use critical thinking and analysis skills, and to provide clear expectations and guidelines for the assignment to ensure that students are producing their own work.

  1. Automated grading tools: Chat GPT can be used to develop automated grading tools that can grade assignments, tests, or exams. These tools can help reduce the workload for faculty, save time, and provide consistent grading across assignments.
  2. Research assistance: Chat GPT can be used to develop research assistance tools that can help faculty locate and analyze relevant research articles or data. This can save time and improve the quality of research.
  3. Curriculum development: Chat GPT can also be used to develop tools that can assist faculty in developing course curricula. For example, a tool could suggest relevant readings, assignments, or learning activities based on learning objectives or student needs.
  4. Communication tools: Chat GPT can be used to develop communication tools that can help faculty communicate with students more effectively. For example, a tool could send automated reminders about assignments or provide updates on course material.
  5. Assessment tools: Chat GPT can also be used to develop assessment tools that can help faculty evaluate their teaching effectiveness. For example, a tool could provide feedback on areas where faculty can improve or suggest alternative teaching methods.

Overall, Chat GPT has the potential to assist faculty in various aspects of their work, from grading to curriculum development, and help improve the overall quality of teaching and learning.


Yes, faculty can use Chat GPT to write emails or other letters. Chat GPT is a language model that is designed to generate text based on the input provided to it. This means that it can be used to generate text for a wide range of purposes, including writing emails, letters, and other types of documents.


However, it's important to note that while Chat GPT can generate text, it may not always produce high-quality or accurate content, particularly when it comes to communication that requires a personal touch. Faculty should use Chat GPT-generated content as a starting point and make necessary modifications to ensure that the content is appropriate for the intended audience.


Additionally, when using Chat GPT to generate content, faculty should be mindful of plagiarism concerns. If the generated text includes content from other sources, it's important to ensure that the content is properly cited and attributed to the original source. This can help avoid potential plagiarism issues and ensure that the generated content is original and meets academic integrity standards.


Overall, while Chat GPT can be a useful tool for generating content, it's important for faculty to exercise caution and use their judgment when using the tool for communication purposes.

The one thing I would want faculty to know about ChatGPT is that it is an incredibly powerful tool that can enhance teaching and learning in various ways. ChatGPT is a state-of-the-art language model that is capable of generating high-quality text based on the input provided to it. This means that it can be used to develop a wide range of educational tools, such as chatbots, writing assistance tools, language translation tools, personalized learning tools, and assessment tools.


However, while ChatGPT can be a valuable resource, it's important to use it responsibly and with care. Faculty should be aware of the potential limitations of the tool and exercise their judgment when using it. They should also be mindful of the potential ethical concerns surrounding the use of AI in education and ensure that they are using the tool in a manner that is consistent with academic integrity standards.


In summary, ChatGPT is an incredibly powerful tool that has the potential to revolutionize the way we teach and learn. However, it's important to use the tool responsibly and with care, and to be mindful of the potential ethical concerns surrounding its use.