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Generative AI Guidance for Students

Explore Generative AI

By exploring generative AI, students can discover innovative tools and approaches that can spark creativity, bolster critical thinking, enhance problem solving skills, and prepare for future careers. They should:

  • Keep current on emerging technologies.
  • Expect to encounter the unknown and to learn iteratively.
  • Experiment with various generative AI tools to understand affordances and limitations.
  • Investigate opportunities for enhancing student learning, personalization, and workload reduction to allow for higher level skills and learning activities.
  • Provide opportunities to explore and learn from each other.

Consider Diversity and Privacy

To ensure an equitable and safe application of this new technology, students should recognize the limitations associated with newly developing technologies.

  • Understand training data used to create generative AI models may be inherently biased. Students should be aware of this and think critically about results. As we move forward, we should encourage the use of diverse and unbiased data sets used in training models.
  • Be cautious of entering personal information. Discuss privacy implications.
  • Protect data and do not enter proprietary information.

Use Generative AI Responsibly

Writing and research are central ways of learning and understanding material in college. The central tenet of academic integrity is doing your own work. As such, tools that you use in the process of learning, writing, and research should be carefully considered.

Talk with your instructors about what is considered responsible use of generative AI in your discipline and in their course.

If you use a generative AI tool in your work, you should cite it. The APA and MLA both provide guidelines for citing generative AI work. Be sure to note how you used it: “I used it this much, in this way, and this percentage of work was generated by AI.” Open AI, the creators of ChatGPT, have a content co-author policy. The key here is to be ethical and not to deceive or mislead your readers.

In working with a generative AI tool, be certain to verify that the citations it generates actually exist. Many people have found that these generative tools invent articles to cite.

Remember to:

  • Follow only the specific permitted uses set by your instructor.
  • Document and attribute all generative AI contributions to your coursework.
  • Take full responsibility for generative AI contributions, ensuring the accuracy of facts and sources.

Think Critically About Generative AI

The output of generative AI models is not always accurate. It may be misleading, inaccurate, biased, and may even be made up. Use critical thinking skills and question the source and quality of training data used in the generative AI model. Carefully evaluate the results (and citations), fact check, determine accuracy/usefulness of output, and engage in class discussions to identify and address biases or inaccuracies.

Guide to Critical Thinking (Checklist, UIUC)

Developing a Critical Thinking Mindset (Course, 58min, LinkedIn Learning)

Critical Media Literacy and Civic Learning: AI Writing Tools, Politics, and History (Edtech Books)

A Beginner's Guide to Critical Thinking (Blog Post, Medium)

Ways to Use Generative AI

There are good and valid ways to leverage the power of generative AI. Here are a few ways:

  • Use it as part of the revision process to enhance your own work.
  • Shorten your own text.
  • Revise your own text for spelling and grammar.
  • Create study aids (e.g., flashcards) for quizzes or exams.
  • Test and practice your knowledge of course topics.
  • Conduct basic research on course and assignment topics.
  • Use it to help come up with new ideas or expand upon existing ones.
  • Develop skills related to usage of generative AI as it will add value to your profile for the workplace.
  • Generative AI can help people communicate, translate, summarize, and more.

Ways Not to Use Generative AI

There are some things to keep in mind when using generative AI for your coursework. Here are a few:

  • Don’t rely solely on information provided by generative AI as it may be inaccurate, misleading, biased, and even made-up. So can citations provided by generative AI.
  • Be transparent in your use of generative AI and cite as appropriate.
  • Don’t use generative AI to replace your critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
  • Use generative AI to supplement your learning, not to replace it.


Common Generative AI Tools

OpenAI - The earliest mover with the viral web front-end and the name ChatGPT. The free version uses GPT 3.5 as the model, which is suitable for most tasks, though there are significant improvements in the latest model GPT 4, particularly in the area of reasoning and avoiding hallucinations (think of AI as an intern). An iPhone app was released in mid-May with a phased launch across the world and they are going to launch Android app soon. If you sign up for the paid plan ($20 a month), you get early access to features such as the ability for the bot to access the web and use plugins that supercharge the functionality of the bot. The Code Interpreter feature is in alpha currently and promises to be significantly good at analysis.

Google Bard - A free interface available to everyone with a Google account. Does reasonably well on most tasks, and has access to the web by default. Currently does not match up to the latest models from OpenAI, but it might improve fast given Google’s focus on AI now. A feature similar to plugins, is being labeled ’tools’ and was announced in May 2023. Some AI capabilities are already integrated into Google tools.

Microsoft Bing Chat - A free interface available to all. Powered by OpenAI models. Currently requires downloading the Microsoft Edge browser to access the chat feature. Has default access to the web and is powered by the latest models from OpenAI, so for normal usage this could be considered a free version, versus the paid version from OpenAI. Microsoft has also enabled plugins for several services and will continue to add more. They have also committed to following the same standard for plugins as OpenAI, so the plugins developed once will work across both interfaces. Given that Microsoft is currently offering OpenAI models for free, and adding plugins support, it seems the best free option, and it includes references as well.

ChatPDF - One specific use case that might be very relevant for most users is to be able to ‘chat’ with a PDF document. This might be a research article, a printout of a web page (saved as .pdf), or a PDF of a book. It is a very simple and elegant solution. There are limitations on how much you can use it for free. This feature will be subsumed in one of the other platforms soon, but for now, it is an excellent tool.

Perplexity - If you are looking for a response from a model that includes an aggregation of search and a generative model and present it with references, this is a good option. Microsoft Bing chat also includes references in its response, so this is not specific to Perplexity, though the experience is better with this tool.

Adobe Firefly - Generative AI can be used for images, audio, and video. Adobe Firefly (beta) is currently available via university license and lets you quickly create graphics. Two powerful features include: “text to image” to generate images from a detailed text description and “generative fill” which makes it easy to remove objects or paint in new ones by supplying text descriptions. Other features include text effects, generative recolor, 3D to image, and extending images.

For a full searchable list of generative AI tools, check out the AI Scout Directory.


AIPRM’s AI Glossary – A Generative AI glossary designed to empower every reader with a solid and clear understanding of the critical concepts that drive generative AI.