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AI Literacy and Critical Thinking

National Guidelines

AI and the future of teaching and Learning 

In May 2023, the U.S. Department of Education Office of Educational Technology published a report including insights and recommendations.

Feel free to read the full report: Artificial Intelligence and the Future of  Teaching and Learning

Key Insights:

  • AI enables new forms of interaction. 

  • AI can help educators address variability in student learning.

  • AI supports powerful forms of adaptivity.

  • AI increases existing risks and introduces news risks yet to be considered. 


1. Emphasize Humans-in-the-Loop. 

2. Align AI Models to a Shared Vision for Education.                            

3. Design AI Using Modern Learning Principles. 

4. Prioritize Strengthening Trust. 

5. Inform and Involve Educators. 

6. Focus R&D on Addressing Context and Enhancing Trust and Safety. 

7. Develop Education-specific Guidelines and Guardrails. 

On Day 1, it is highly recommended to follow these steps to ensure a your students are aware of your position in using/not using AI generative content in your course:

  1. Set Expectations:

    • Engage students in a discussion about AI to establish their understanding and expectations.
    • Address the importance of accuracy and reliability when utilizing AI-generated content.
    • Familiarize students with AI tool navigation to promote ease of use throughout the course.
  2. Critical Media Literacy:

    •  Help your students understand the importance of evaluating AI sources effectively. Feel free to use Critical Media Literacy and Civic Learning or encourage them to join the events/sessions on AI literacy.
  3. Code of Conduct and Academic Integrity:

    • Discuss the code of conduct, plagiarism, and academic dishonesty with students.
    • Emphasize that submitting AI-generated work without proper citation is considered plagiarism.
    • Familiarize students with APA/MLA citation guidelines for referencing AI-generated content.
  4. Ethical Use of GPT Generated Content:

    • Encourage an open discussion about students' views on using GPT-generated content in the course.
    • Help students decide on their own AI writing policy/guidelines for responsible usage.
  5. Syllabus Expectations:

    • Set clear expectations in your syllabus regarding the integration of AI in the course.
    • Include a statement outlining the guidelines and policies related to AI usage.
  6. Build Relationships/trust with Students:

    • Take the opportunity to build positive relationships with your students from the start.
    • Foster a supportive and engaging learning environment through communication and interaction.

Sample Syllabus Statements - Macalester College

As you determine your classroom / course AI policies and guidelines, you might want to consider these questions:

  1. Will you allow AI tools in your course? Which ones? Under which circumstances? Why or why not?

  2. What constitutes “appropriate” and “ethical” use of these tools in your classroom? Why?

    1. Is AI-generated language or code acceptable in your course? If so, how much of the text or code may be generated by AI (e.g. 20%? Less? More?)?

    2. Is AI-assistance acceptable in your course? What type of assistance is ok and for which tasks?

    3. What is the difference between AI-assistance and AI-generated language within the framework of your course?

  3. How does AI fit in with your learning outcomes for the course? Why?

  4. What are the pitfalls and limitations of AI tools in your field?

  5. How would you like your students to document their work with AI tools when they submit work to you? Note that the current AI citation practices require that the prompt to the AI tool should be included in a full citation. (Tip: you might also encourage students to write an “Acknowledgments” section for their project, outlining what help they have received from whom/what.)

Remember that writing something in your syllabus won’t mean that your students will read or internalize it! Please make sure that you have a conversation with your students about AI in the classroom. You may even consider having the students write or revise the classroom AI policy together.

**The syllabus statements on the next tabs reflect differing approaches / philosophies to AI in the classroom. You will want to select a syllabus statement that reflects your own classroom policy.


Using AI can impede your learning. The assignments in this class challenge you to develop creativity, critical-thinking, and problem-solving skills that AI does not have. Using AI technology could limit your capacity to do this type of work, and as the instructor, I urge you not to miss out on the educational opportunities that this course will provide. As is the case for all courses at Macalester College, work submitted by you for this class should reflect both your own ideas and your own language and you should properly cite any resources you have consulted. If you have any questions about citation or about what constitutes academic honesty in this course or at Macalester College in general, please feel free to raise these questions in class and/or contact me to discuss your concerns.

Sample Statement One


AI can both interfere with and enhance our capacity to learn. We must be mindful of when it might hinder us and when it might provide us with new understanding and/or assistance. In specific situations and contexts within this course you will be asked to use AI tools to explore how they can be used, what their limits are, and how to use them ethically. Please remember that any idea or language that is not your own needs to be correctly cited in work that you submit in this course and at Macalester College in general. This policy covers all types of AI: text, code, images, video, audio, and translation.

[You might want to include more specific guidelines about AI-generated text/code and/vs AI-assistance–are they both acceptable? Under what circumstances?]

Sample Statement Two


In this course, you may use AI tools (such as ChatGPT) to help you generate ideas and to brainstorm. However, you should note that the material generated by these tools may be inaccurate, incomplete, or otherwise problematic. Beware that overuse of AI may stifle your own independent thinking and creativity, and use any tools (for generating text, code, video, audio, images, or translation) wisely and carefully.

You may not submit any work generated by an AI program as your own. If you include material—including both ideas and language—generated by an AI program, it should be cited like any other reference material, both in this course and at Macalester College in general. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.


Learning to use AI is an emerging skill that we will explore together in this class. I expect you to use AI ([list which tools are relevant for your course]) in this class. In fact, some assignments may require it. 

However, you should be aware of the limits of ChatGPT:

  • AI is a tool, but one that you need to acknowledge using. Any ideas, language, or code that is produced by AI must be cited, just like any other resource. [sample suggestion: Please include a paragraph at the end of any assignment that uses AI explaining what you used the AI for and what prompts you used to get the results.] Failure to do so is in violation of the academic integrity policy at Macalester College.

  • Don’t trust anything AI says. If it gives you a number or fact, assume it is wrong unless you either know the answer or can check in with another source. AI works best for topics you understand.

  • If you provide minimum effort prompts, you will get low quality results. You will need to refine your prompts in order to get good outcomes. This will take work.

  • Be thoughtful about when this tool is useful. Don’t use it if it isn’t appropriate for the case or circumstance.

If you have any questions about your use of AI tools, please contact me to discuss them!

Discipline Specific: Sample Classroom Policies

Please feel free to use Classroom Policies for AI Generative Tools, which is created by Lance Eaton for the purposes of sharing and helping other instructors see the range of policies available by other educators to help in the development of their own for navigating AI-Generative Tools (such as ChatGPT, MidJourney, Dall-E, etc). 

Sample Class Activities

Visualize a Metaphor

Take a visual metaphor from a class reading and generate an image of it using Dall-E. Have students discuss the image and how it shifts their understanding of the text or idea. Alternatively, have students write a visual metaphor that reflects their response to any type of text or idea. Generate an image of that metaphor and discuss to see if it leads to new insights or responses.

Scenario-Based Assessment

Have ChatGPT create a series of scenarios related to your course content. Maybe the Bot plays the role of a client to a business who needs a marketing strategy and you ask it to come up with the specifics of what needs marketing. Or perhaps the Bot plays the role of a politician asking a policy expert to come up with recommendations for an upcoming vote. Think creatively and use the scenarios for assessments in your course. Try using the phrase “act as an expert” in your prompt to AI to get better results.

AI Gameshow

Use ChatGPT or other AI-tools to write questions for a gameshow related to your current class topic. Think about what format you would like the questions to be (Jeopardy? Who wants to be a millionaire? Family Feud?) You can use the resulting questions for a review at the end of the unit or as a quick warm-up.

AI Conversations

(From Creative Ideas for using AI in Education, Slide 20)

Use AI as a conversation buddy to sharpen question-posing and critical thinking skills. Maybe each student starts with the same general prompt and then poses follow-up questions to the tool to see what happens. What type of conversation develops?

 “To create opportunities for conversational learning using AI, in this case ChatGPT or similar tools, as a conversation buddy. Could this type of conversations help us develop and sharpen our socratic questioning techniques, and open up to diverse perspectives? Could it be a way to practice active listening, critical reading and deep reflection? Could it open our minds to explore new connections and possibilities through questions? Could our own questions help us question our own beliefs, positionality and challenge our own assumptions and study contradictions? Could this approach help us develop our skills in creating safe and non-judgemental spaces for conversations in the spirit of Socratic questioning (Paul & Elder, 2007)? Are responses only as good as the questions we ask? And what are the implications if this is the case?” (From Creative Ideas for using AI in Education, Slide 20)

Of course, this could also be done in a language classroom in another language.

Talk with an Historical or Famous Character

(From Creative Ideas for Using AI in Education, Slide 39)

Similarly, you could have students hold a conversation with a simulated historical figure or a famous personality.

“Students will go to either Historical Figures Chat or Hello History or Character AI and chat with a historical figure. Then they will reflect on the chat. Did the AI make any factual errors? Did the AI use the same kinds of language? Did the AI hold the same opinions? If not, where can you find sources that prove your point? This will send students to all sorts of primary and secondary documents as they reflect on their experience.” (From Creative Ideas for Using AI in Education, Slide 39)


This curated list draws from the activities in the Creative Ideas for using AI in Education crowd-sourced resource.

What is writing?

Have students discuss what writing is. What is their personal definition of writing? Is it simply putting words on a page? Does the definition vary from context to context, from genre to genre? What is the connection between writing and thinking?

The goal is to have a discussion about the fact that writing is (critical) thinking, that the two are inseparable. Our thoughts only become our thoughts through the process of articulating them, and for that reason, ChatGPT and other AI tools are not capable of this type of writing. This could open up a broader discussion about the goals for your course/assignment and the role that AI may or may not play in it.

Writing Samples

Put your prompt through ChatGPT and see what it produces. Tweak and play with it. Then give the sample to your students and have them critique it. What does it do well? What is missing? What doesn’t it do well? Use your grading criteria to evaluate the paper: what grade would it receive? Why?

Variations on this: you could tell the students in advance that the paper is AI-generated OR you could not tell them until after they’ve analyzed the sample. You could have students compare the AI-generated sample with a human-generated sample and identify the difference (again, with or without telling them which is which).

AI Proofreading

Have your students ask ChatGPT to proofread a sample essay. What feedback does it provide? What is useful and what is not? How do the students feel about the suggestions that ChatGPT makes? Poll the class: is ChatGPT a useful resource for proofreading? Why or why not? How might the class response affect the class policy on using AI for proofreading?

Note the data-privacy concerns inherent in this activity. We certainly do not want to require students to add their personal writing/data to ChatGPT, but this exercise could provide a useful starting point for discussion.

Stylin’ and Profilin’

(from Creative Uses for Using AI in Education, Slide 36)

“Use AI-generated text to delve into the specifics of literary styles by analyzing its approximation of different authors’ writing. For example, asking the AI to generate some text in the style of Virginia Woolf, Cormac McCarthy, and David Foster Wallace. AIs such as ChatGPT aren’t “intelligent” in the way some people think. But it is (already) good at creating pastiche texts in the style of particular authors. Considering “why” the AI emulated the style (sentence formation, word selection, punctuation and grammar, etc.) as it did requires learners to undertake deeper consideration of the works of the authors in question to pinpoint style particulars, and where the parallels are found in the authors’ work. It is at least as important to consider where ChatGPT gets things wrong.”

“AI-generated builds on traditional compare/contrast/analysis by providing another layer for considering the construction and effects of writing style. There are many possibilities for building on this kind of activity, including using different genres, having students write in different styles, or even asking them to emulate what they think the AI might produce before asking it to do so.”


This curated list draws from the activities in the Creative Ideas for using AI in Education crowd-sourced resource.

Professional Association Statements

How to use ChatGPT as a learning tool (from APA)

Rather than weaken student effort, artificial intelligence can help prepare students for the real world by encouraging critical thinking—with a few caveats. Here’s advice from psychology instructors about how to use ChatGPT and other AI technology wisely


Quick Start Guide to AI and Writing (From MLA- CCCC joint Task Force on Writing and AI)

This website offers a comprehensive array of resources covering various topics, including but not limited to:

  • Possible methods to adapt teaching practices in response to ChatGPT.
  • Incorporating AI writing and ChatGPT into digital and information literacy curricula.
  • Exploring the ethical considerations surrounding ChatGPT.
  • Understanding student perspectives on ChatGPT.
  • Insights into detection software for AI-generated content.
  • Leveraging ChatGPT to assist in the preparation of course materials.

Feel free to read the full Working Paper


ChatGPT shouldn't be listed as JAMA author--and ChatGPT agrees (From the American Medical Association)

  • "Only humans can be authors." --Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo (editor-in-chief of JAMA)


As ChatGPT Enters the Classroom, Teachers Weigh Pros and Cons (National Education Association, 4/12/2023)


Critical Media Literacy Guides

Critical media literacy means critical inquiry. Much of the work of critical media literacy is to ask questions of the media texts that we make use of and study. Critical media literacy focuses on both the content of the media (e.g., what we watch, read, or listen to) and, possibly more important, on the power behind the construction of the content (e.g., the ownership, production, and distribution of media texts). Critical media literacy pays close attention to the interrogation of power: What media are the object of our study and how did they come to be?


UNESCO's ChatGPT and Artificial Intelligence in Higher Education Quick Start Guide

"The Quick Start Guide is a short, jargon-free downloadable guide that provides an overview of how ChatGPT works and explains how it can be used in higher education. The Quick Start Guide raises some of the main challenges and ethical implications of AI in higher education and offers practical steps that higher education institutions can take." Read more about it on the UNESCO.

OA Books and Resources

Teaching and Generative AI: Pedagogical Possibilities and Productive Tensions

With the rapid development of Generative AI, teachers are experiencing a new pedagogical challenge—one that promises to forever change the way we approach teaching and learning. As a response to this unprecedented teaching context, Teaching and Generative AI: Pedagogical Possibilities and Productive Tensions provides interdisciplinary teachers, librarians, and instructional designers with practical and thoughtful pedagogical resources for navigating the possibilities and challenges of teaching in an AI era. Because our goal with this edited collection is to present nuanced discussions of AI technology across disciplines, the chapters collectively acknowledge or explore both possibilities and tensions—including the strengths, limitations, ethical considerations, and disciplinary potential and challenges—of teaching in an AI era. As such, the authors in this collection do not simply praise or criticize AI, but thoughtfully acknowledge and explore its complexities within educational settings.

Buyserie, B. & Thurston, T.N. (Eds.) (2024). Teaching and generative AI: Pedagogical possibilities and productive tensions. Utah State University.