Instructor Insights: Supporting Academic Integrity in an AI World

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AI is rapidly reshaping the educational landscape, and maintaining and nurturing academic integrity is more crucial than ever. It’s a topic that Macmillan Learning is particularly interested in. To that end, last month our CEO Susan Winslow was a panelist in a webinar “The Importance of Truth, Honesty, and Pedagogy in an AI World” alongside Packback CEO Kelsey Behringer and hosted by Inside Higher Ed Contributing Editor Racher Toor. The webinar (which you can watch here) yielded invaluable insights from these three leaders, with candid conversations that spanned from strategies instructors can use to support academic integrity to the role of AI in classrooms and the optimal ways to bolster pedagogy. 

Nearly 1,000 instructors attended the live session, actively engaging in dialogue around AI's role in education and the promotion of ethical academic practices. The discussion yielded several actionable suggestions for instructors and we have since received many requests for access following the session. We are pleased to continue the conversation here, sharing some of the insights instructors shared there.

From unpacking the implications of AI in educational systems to highlighting effective measures for promoting ethical academic practices, below are some tools and ideas shared on how to reinforce the significance of truth and honesty while bolstering pedagogy in an era of AI-driven learning.

Fact-Checking and Reference Checking: Educators are actively teaching students how to fact-check and reference-check AI-generated content, emphasizing the importance of verifying information from multiple sources. One instructor noted in chat: “Fact checking is a great conversation starter in class. (Students) present what they get from AI and they either support or correct the information by using evidence from legitimate sources.”

Reflection and Accountability: Encouraging students to reflect on their use of AI in assignments, including fact-checking and critical evaluation, helps instill a sense of accountability and transparency. One instructor shared: “I have added an assignment on reflection. Students are asked to keep a field notebook of how they plan to use Gen AI before they begin an assignment. Then I ask them to reflect on their experience after the completion of the assignment. At the end of the course I plan to have them reflect on what they discover.”

Critical Analysis and Rhetorical Evaluation: Rhetorical analysis is a valuable tool for assessing the credibility and quality of AI-generated content. This skill can help students distinguish between reliable and unreliable information. One instructor commented: “My students analyze GPT-written papers for rhetoric. When analyzing ethos, they dig into what the AI uses as sources. They often find that some information is credible, but there is still a lot that AI includes that is incorrect and even made up.” Blog quote.png

Digital Literacy: Promoting digital literacy is a key component of integrating AI into education. Educators are incorporating assignments that require students to critically evaluate information from different media sources. One instructor noted: “Some employers are seeking a workforce that has a developed digital literacy. Educators need to think deeply about what we're implying when what we expose them in the classroom is disconnected from the world around them.”

Balancing AI Use with Traditional Skills: Educators are mindful of maintaining a balance between teaching AI-related skills and ensuring that students continue to acquire traditional knowledge and skills in their respective disciplines. One instructor noted this in chat: “When deciding when and when not to use AI, for me it comes down to what the purpose of the writing is. If the students are writing to show their writing skills, AI won't be able to help with this. If the students, or the instructor, are writing to convey information (i.e., facts, etc.), why wouldn't AI be helpful and permissible then?”

Understanding Source Credibility: Teaching students to differentiate between "credible" and "expert" sources helps them assess the trustworthiness of information and identify authoritative voices in their research. One instructor commented: “I make a distinction between "credible" and "expert." A credible author is trustworthy; however, an expert is someone who, by their training and hands-on experience, has a higher level of knowledge on a specific topic.”

Restricting Source Types: Some educators limit the types of sources students can use, encouraging reliance on reputable academic and government sources while discouraging the use of sources like Wikipedia or less reliable websites. One instructor gave examples of the types of sources they did and didn’t allow students to use; they restricted students to using PsycINFO, university websites and government websites and do not allow Wikipedia, Simply Psychology, and Verywellmind, among others.
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Promoting Honesty and Integrity: Fostering a classroom environment centered on learning, honesty, and enthusiasm for knowledge encourages students to value the integrity of their academic work. One instructor shared in the discussion: “I think the classroom climate matters a lot. If the focus is always on learning, then our goal is to activate and facilitate learning always. Those who choose to cheat themselves out of learning by cheating will always find a way. But we can aim for the joy and enthusiasm of learning, and bring along those who are with us.”

Hands-On Learning with AI: Encourage students to actively engage with AI by using it for practical tasks, such as lesson planning and project creation, while also encouraging critical thinking about the generated content. One instructor commented: “I teach both history and history ed. I have my history ed students use AI to write lesson plans, create projects, write activities, etc. I do ask only that they don’t accept it as perfect and to tell me they have used it. But I encourage it. I am judging them less on whether they came up with the material out of their own creative juices and more on whether they think something will work in the classroom.”

These ideas collectively highlight the educators' commitment to equipping students with the skills necessary to navigate the AI-driven information landscape responsibly and ethically while emphasizing the enduring importance of traditional educational principles. Stay tuned for even more insights and for more webinars from Macmillan Learning discussing teaching with/through AI. For additional resources you can use, including webinar recordings, blogs from Macmillan Learning’s leadership and access to our community for instructors, visit the AI for educators website; you can also watch the full webinar at no cost here.