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Use of Generative Artificial Intelligence in Courses

Instructor Options

As with other course features, instructors have the freedom to integrate generative artificial intelligence (GAI) to support their teaching goals. With the recent increase in GAI’s popularity, instructors should carefully consider how (if at all) they will permit the use of GAI in their courses. All instructors should communicate any expectations or requirements clearly with students to avoid confusion. It may help to think in terms of three main options that apply to an entire course:

Considering the Use of GAI in Your Courses

We recommend the following steps as you consider the use of GAI in the Northwestern classroom:

First, consider the technology itself and the larger learning objectives of your class:

Once you have identified the ways in which the use of GAI or the absence of GAI may support your learning goals for the class, think about a blanket policy for the class: Will it be closed to student use of GAI, allow use of GAI with certain conditions, or will the class be open to use of GAI as the students see fit? The framework below may help you as you make these decisions:

Considerations when deciding whether your course will be open or closed to use of GAI.








(Framework inspired by Forbes, M. & Brandauer J. "What’s my stance on genAI in this class?" Gettysburg College Johnson Center for Teaching and Learning. Retrieved 8/20/2023 from

Next, you might use the ideas below to start a robust discussion about the role of GAI in your class with your students. You should be transparent, explaining the reasoning behind your policy as it relates to the purpose and goals of the course. Flexibility might also be key, as this is a newer area for students and instructors alike.

Finally, as you formulate your own philosophy about the use of GAI in your classes, you should think about specific assignments and whether your blanket policy fits each of them. You should offer clear examples of when GAI can and cannot be used, explain how to cite the use of GAI tools, and discuss the consequences of not citing or inappropriate use of these tools.

Template Statements for Syllabi

Whatever approach instructors take to GAI, they should document their expectations on syllabi. Doing so is of particular importance as students may encounter vastly different expectations across their courses. 

To represent each of the three main options for GAI, instructors might consider statements like these, which are derived from Kellogg School of Management materials:

Northwestern's Cook Family Writing Program has compiled more information about and examples of syllabus statements in a Canvas module with GAI resources.

On the Office of the Registrar's syllabus statement page, there is an optional GAI statement listed under the academic integrity statement, as well as a recommended syllabus statement for courses in which GAI use is permitted.

Considerations Before Prohibiting Use of GAI

While instructors are free to prohibit any use of GAI in their courses, they should consider the following implications:

​Considerations Before Requiring Use of GAI

Instructors who are interested in experimenting with GAI as a teaching tool should anticipate how they will address potential barriers to equity and success, especially if the use of GAI is required:

Talking with Students about GAI

The volume and diversity of news about GAI means that students are likely entering courses with a range of awareness about what it is, let alone its utility and appropriateness for coursework. How instructors engage students about GAI in their courses will depend on the subject and format of those courses. In any dialogue about GAI, students should reflect on their purpose in being at Northwestern and intrinsic motivation for learning. They should consider how using GAI in ways instructors do not intend may circumvent learning that is essential for success at Northwestern and beyond.  

Topics to Address

In planning what to discuss with students, instructors should address how these broad interrelated topics apply to their courses:

Talking About AI











Strategies for Discussing Uses of GAI with Your Students

Open a conversation about the use of GAI with your students. Students may or may not be familiar with the tools, how to use them, how to cite them, or their promise and limitations. You may want to begin the discussion with the slides from the August 2023 workshop on becoming familiar with ChatGPT. A series of activities with your students might include:

The students at the University of Sydney co-created a document with general principles for the use of GAI at their institution, which includes a set of scenarios that may help you and your students determine the acceptability of the use of GAI in your course.

Above all, the point of these discussions with your students is to build their investment in their own learning through transparency and trust. View the advice from Elizabeth Lenaghan, a Professor in the Writing Program, about discussing the use of GAI with your students.

Academic Integrity and GAI

Instructors permitting the use of GAI tools should clearly communicate their expectations for attribution and specific citation formats from the guide(s) they prefer. Failure to properly attribute GAI tools may violate the University’s academic integrity policy:

Detection Tools

Instructors may be familiar with Turnitin, Northwestern's anti-plagiarism software. Turnitin piloted an AI Writing Indicator from April to August 2023, but after a series of consultations, Northwestern has decided to turn it off. We do not recommend using this detection tool as the basis for reporting a suspected case of academic dishonesty. 

Should you have questions, feel free to reach out to Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education Miriam Sherin or your appropriate school contact.


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