Artificial intelligence (AI) is advancing rapidly, and new Generative Artificial Intelligence (GenAI) tools like ChatGPT, Claude, Elicit, Perplexity, Bard and Bing are now easily accessible online. As university students, how can you incorporate these emerging technologies into your studies and campus life confidently and responsibly? Here are some guiding principles.
1. Recognise strengths and shortcomings
First, recognise that while GenAI tools can provide helpful information, they have significant limitations. AI systems do not possess true comprehension or reasoning abilities. They generate responses by identifying patterns in their training data, not through deep understanding. So, while they may seem intelligent, they cannot replace human critical thinking and analysis.
2. Supplement, don't substitute
See GenAI tools as assistants to augment your work, not automate it. Use them to brainstorm ideas, get different perspectives, summarise content, and stimulate discussion. But don't rely on them to write full assignments or papers for you. That would be unethical and prevent you from developing core academic skills. Use GenAI thoughtfully, in balance with your own skills.
3. Keep your critical thinking cap on
When evaluating any GenAI-generated content, maintain a critical, questioning mindset. Consider:
- does this response make logical sense?
- is it well reasoned and supported?
- does it connect clearly to the prompt or question?
Probe the AI with follow-up research to assess its quality. Don't take outputs as factual without verification. Evaluating AI responsibly builds your critical thinking abilities.
4. Vet the authenticity of sources
Like any research, ensure GenAI uses reliable sources. Use GenAI to find sources but verify their credibility yourself. Review citations and references carefully and validate key points against credible primary and secondary sources.
5. Avoid plagiarism
Resist the temptation to copy or shortcut assignments with AI. Passing off AI content as your own work constitutes academic dishonesty.
Focus on developing your skills through practice, not quick answers. Learning outcomes matter most.
Ethically engage with GenAI as a generative tool, not an easy fix.
6. Champion academic honesty
The convenience of GenAI tools can sometimes lead to their misuse. Plagiarism and cheating harm your learning and academic integrity and, more widely, damage the reputation of the University.
Set an example by citing any GenAI sources properly, just as you would any research content.
Promote academic honesty by encouraging your peers to use the technology ethically. By prioritising integrity, we can harness GenAI's potential without undermining its value. Our character and principles determine whether emerging innovations elevate or erode education.
7. Explore the GenAI module
To explore the nuances of GenAI further, we've created an introduction to Generative Artificial Intelligence (GenAI) module.
This offers a mix of content to not only familiarise yourself with GenAI tools but also to master using them effectively and responsibly. The module includes the following resources:
- Using AI tools for your work at university - discover how to strike the right balance between technological assistance and individual effort.
- GenAI prompts - learn how to produce effective prompts and techniques that refine GenAI responses.
- GenAI information literacy - examine the strengths, limitations and ethical considerations associated with GenAI.
- GenAI critical thinking and evaluation - develop your analytical skills and learn how to critically evaluate AI-generated content.
Overall, approach new GenAI tools thoughtfully. Let them inspire you, augment your skills, and expand your knowledge - but maintain your human discretion, ethics, and critical thinking at every step.
AI holds exciting potential, but fulfilling that promise requires wisdom. As society navigates this technology shift, students play an essential role in shaping its future positively.