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*Notes - This information will continue to evolve and change. Events related to AI can be found on the CELT Events 2023 page and links to helpful resources for instructors can be found at the bottom of this page.

What do recent advances in AI mean for higher education?

In higher education, rapid advances in AI tools raise important questions about our role moving forward as to what our students need to learn, and how they can best learn. These tools require us to consider how they can be helpful for learning and teaching, and when they may not be helpful. They raise questions about potential embedded bias, or other negative aspects to their use. The new availability of AI tools requires a paradigm shift and ongoing dialogue at all levels of the university as we think through what this means for Tufts. For more see Resilient and Equitable Teaching and Assessment Require a Paradigm Shift.

Change is hard, and we all respond differently. Individual faculty responses to AI tools will fall somewhere on a continuum from resistance and concerns about “cheating” to reflection on whether current assignments and assessments will continue to nurture and assess student learning and how to adapt them, to embracing these new tools and experimenting with how to leverage them for learning by redesigning courses or assessments. At CELT, we view this moment as an opportunity to engage in meaningful dialogue with each other, to think deeply about what and how we teach, and to be innovative and creative.


Guiding Questions for Individuals, Departments, Schools

Below are sets of questions for individuals, departments, and schools to guide important discussions as we navigate our decisions related to AI.


When AI tools are able to replicate or mimic some or much of the work we ask our students to do in higher education - say write an essay or a term paper, code, an admissions essay, or the preface to a grant proposal - we need to reflect deeply about our role in educating students and our own professional standards. Important questions need to be addressed globally, but also across higher education as an important agent of change, progress, and democracy.

  • What does this mean for Tufts’ role in graduating an educated citizenry for the world they will enter post-graduation?
  • What opportunities do these new tools offer us that might enhance our work?
  • Are there equity concerns or affordances for different students?
  • What ethical, legal and safety considerations should we be wrestling with vis a vis AI?
  • How does this change how we think about academic integrity?
  • What policies for academic integrity do we need to put in place regarding its use that are meaningful and flexible enough to evolve with these tools?
  • What might be the impact on intellectual property?
  • What are the privacy issues we need to address to protect our students, faculty and staff?
  • What other big questions should we be asking ourselves?

At the school level, it will be useful to create cross-cutting working group(s) and structured spaces for open dialogue among faculty, staff and students. Soliciting questions from your department chairs, faculty, staff and students will be important in having a robust path for inquiry and dialogue.  These learning groups might focus on overarching questions such as:

  • What will our students need to be prepared to enter their chosen field of study in an age of AI, and what does that mean for our school’s curriculum? What is the relationship between AI tools and learning - and what does that mean for our teaching, assessment, and the role of content?
  • Which of our current approaches to teaching might need to be repositioned or strengthened to remain effective in this new landscape?
  • What new pedagogical approaches might make use of AI as a learning tool?
  • How might we define, communicate and engage students in dialogue about the value of academic integrity?
  • What policies for academic integrity and professionalism do we need to put in place that are meaningful and flexible enough to evolve with these tools?
  • What ethical and safety considerations should we be wrestling with vis a vis the use of AI at Tufts and society?

Reflective and critical dialogue within departments will help to develop a shared understanding of AI implications for learning and academic honesty. They will help you develop consistent language, policies and approaches that can guide both faculty and students in navigating the use of these tools. Pedagogies and curricula traditionally differ across disciplines, and some may be more affected by new and emerging AI tools than others.  Questions at the department level might include:

  • How are our beliefs about what is necessary and important for learning in our discipline challenged by AI?
  • What might this mean for our departmental curriculum?
    • How might our learning outcomes for our majors change or be focused differently to reflect new possibilities presented by AI tools?
    • How will AI be used in the field, and what do students need to learn to be prepared for that work?
    • Are there new skills we need to introduce and develop - for example, ethical reasoning, information literacy, critical thinking, equity and inclusion, etc.?
  • What does this mean for our teaching and assessment practices?
    • In our department, what are our dominant forms of teaching and assessing learning?
    • Which aspects of how we teach and assess currently are resilient in the age of AI, and which are not? Which practices might need to change?
  • What are the ethical questions we need to wrestle with together and with our students related to knowledge production and these new tools?
  • What implications for equity and inclusion should be considered?
  • What guidelines do we want to embrace and communicate, if any, at the department level, to our students for appropriate uses of AI?
What do recent advances in AI mean at the individual instructor level?

There are a range of ways individual faculty can begin to explore the potential impact of AI tools in their courses.  [Continuum] While our responses will vary, critical reflection and a thoughtful approach for teaching will be important in order to preserve a respectful faculty-student relationship, provide clarity and guidance for students, and for you to have a framework for how you might adapt your teaching where necessary.

Some areas you might prioritize:

  • Play around with AI tools relevant to the kind of work you assign to your students.
  • Consider ways AI tools could be productively used by you or your students to enhance your course
  • Develop and communicate your guidelines, policies and expectations for acceptable uses of AI in your course. (You might develop these with your students or keep an open door for feedback or questions students might have.)

See Developing Syllabus Statements for AI for advice and example syllabus policies, Designing Courses in the Age of AI  prompts for designing authentic learning experiences, advice for teaching students to write with AI and discussion of each of the practices above

Practical resources for using AI in the classroom