Positive Uses for ChatGPT in the Higher Education Classroom

Woman taking notes in front of a computer

ChatGPT as an AI-assisted technology can prove to be a valuable tool in innovative and inclusive teaching, learning, and assessment. Most recently, institutions of higher education have started to release statements on the usage and implementation of ChatGPT (Tyson, 2023). While limitations exist, the tool has benefits for students and instructors. More specifically, by aligning with a transformative relationship with knowledge, ChatGPT can facilitate courses that are enjoyable and entertaining for students (Strzelecki, 2023). ChatGPT can be used as a tool for creativity as well as accommodation, and teaching approaches can utilize it to innovate teaching and learning. Users enter a prompt with directives for content, audience, and tone to receive a written product. This development provides opportunities for instructors to engage students and potentially increase student productivity (Fauzi et al., 2023).

Teaching Implications for ChatGPT

Fuchs (2023) states that ChatGPT can enhance teaching and learning in the higher education classroom and help students stay engaged with the course material. For example, instructors can design writing assignments in which students actively analyze the tool’s strengths and limitations. By engaging students and exploring the tool together, instructors can introduce students to the importance of ethics and the dangers of plagiarism in the writing process. That process can help reduce shallow learning and raise awareness about misinformation (Wang et al., 2023). ChatGPT can also be used as a powerful writing tool.  Generating multiple versions of the same written text can help students evaluate and critique rhetoric and grammar and familiarize themselves with different writing styles (Beck & Levine, 2023).

To discourage plagiarism, graded assignments can include oral presentations, group projects, and hands-on activities that require students to demonstrate their knowledge and skills in a more interactive and engaging way (King, 2023).

Overall, as students show themselves to be enthusiastic about AI tools, it is important for instructors to address the use of these in the classroom (Joyce, 2023). Despite the general enthusiasm, it is also important to note there have been drastic measures taken at some educational institutions due to the fear of the unknown (Lampropoulos, Ferdig, Kaplan-Rakowski, 2023).


ChatGPT Can Be Used To...

  • Teach students critical thinking and writing (Strzelecki, 2023)
  • Help developing writers with strategic guidance from teachers (Beck & Levine, 2023)
  • Offer students judgment-free assistance when facing a blank page (Beck & Levine, 2023)
  • Educate students about ethical concerns and responsible AI use (Okaiyeto et al., 2023)

Instructors Can...

  • Adapt their curriculum to include new technological advancements (Wang et al., 2023)
  • Provide more inclusive teaching that aligns with a transformative relationship with knowledge (Strzelecki, 2023)
  • Shift to a more didactic approach supporting critical thinking, creativity, and real-world application (Fesenmeier, Wöbel, 2023).
  • Utilize the tool to differentiate correct from incorrect information by encouraging critical thinking (Joyce, 2023)
  • Incorporate ChatGPT in their coursework to prepare graduates who are competitive and adaptable in the evolving job market (Okaiyeto et al., 2023)

ChatGPT Can Help Instructors...

  • Write writing prompts (Beck & Levine, 2023)
  • Encourage classroom discussion about the benefits and drawbacks of using AI tools (Joyce, 2023)
  • Assist students with real-time feedback and personalized learning environments (Wang et al., 2023)
  • Utilize AI tools to illustrate these impacts through scenario-based examples, thus shaping students’ mental models of AI tool usage (Wang et al., 2023)
  • Enhance productivity (Okaiyeto et al., 2023)
  • Manage work-related stress and task accomplishment due to its time-saving features (Bin-Nashwan et al., 2023)

Designing ChatGPT into your syllabus

A potential first step toward incorporating AI technology into the higher education classroom is a transparent syllabus. A syllabus that provides guidance on the proper utilization of technology can create a learning environment that is inclusive and supportive of both the student and the instructor. In practice, this might mean creating learning objectives using Bloom’s Taxonomy for working with technologies such as ChatGPT. Syllabus verbiage can emphasize successful learning behaviors and strategies in general.

Instructors are implementing policies in syllabi that range from guiding ChatGPT use in academic work to limiting its use. Overarching guidelines around syllabus language include:

  • Setting clear guidelines for the use of ChatGPT on assignments (Tyson, 2023)
  • Being honest about the time assignments take
  • Offering a choice between AI and non-AI assignments

Resources for Instructors


Beck, S. W., & Levine, S. R. (2023). Backtalk: ChatGPT: A powerful technology tool for writing instruction. Phi Delta Kappan, 105(1), 66-67.

Bin-Nashwan, S. A., Sadallah, M., & Bouteraa, M. (2023). Use of ChatGPT in academia: Academic integrity hangs in the balance. Technology in Society, 102370.

Fauzi, F., Tuhuteru, L., Sampe, F., Ausat, A. M. A., & Hatta, H. R. (2023). Analysing the role of ChatGPT in improving student productivity in higher education. Journal on Education5(4), 14886-14891.

Fuchs, K. (2023, May). Exploring the opportunities and challenges of NLP models in higher education: Is Chat GPT a blessing or a curse?. In Frontiers in Education (Vol. 8, p. 1166682). Frontiers.

Gao, R., Merzdorf, H. E., Anwar, S., Hipwell, M. C., & Srinivasa, A. (2023). Automatic assessment of text-based responses in post-secondary education: A systematic review. arXiv preprint arXiv:2308.16151.

Geller, E. S. (2023). If You See Something, Say Something: Cultivating an Actively-Caring-for-People Culture. Behavior and Social Issues, 1-4.

Joyce, A. (2023). Embracing AI: Using Cat-GPT to Encourage Classroom Discussion. College Teaching, 1-3.

King, M.R., ChatGPT. A Conversation on Artificial Intelligence, Chatbots, and Plagiarism in Higher Education. Cel. Mol. Bioeng. 16, 1–2 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12195-022-00754-8

Lampropoulos, G., Ferdig, R. E., & Kaplan-Rakowski, R. (2023). A Social Media Data Analysis of General and Educational Use of ChatGPT: Understanding Emotional Educators. Available at SSRN 4468181.

Okaiyeto, S. A., Bai, J., & Xiao, H. (2023). Generative AI in education: To embrace it or not?. International Journal of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, 16(3), 285-286.

Rodríguez, J. M. R., Montoya, M. S. R., Fernández, M. B., & Lara, F. L. (2023). Use of ChatGPT at university as a tool for complex thinking: Students' perceived usefulness. NAER: Journal of New Approaches in Educational Research12(2), 323-339.

Strzelecki, A. (2023). To use or not to use ChatGPT in higher education? A study of students’ acceptance and use of technology. Interactive Learning Environments, 1-14.‌

Tyson, J. (2023). Shortcomings of ChatGPT. Journal of Chemical Education, 100(8), 3098-3101.

Wang, T., Díaz, D. V., Brown, C., & Chen, Y. Exploring the Role of AI Assistants in Computer Science Education: Methods, Implications, and Instructor Perspectives