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First ChatGPT Assignment Outcomes

Updated: Jan 30, 2023

In my previous blog post I shared with you the first ChatGPT and AI assignment I gave my students. There were a few questions from them initially. Most were around the type of question to use as their first prompt as well as a few around what I was looking for to show prompt progression. Overall there were few questions though. I tried to make it clear that this was only an attempt to get them trying the tools and that my grading would be extremely lenient. I was focused on them understanding the process and requirements as well as getting a base level of comfort with ChatGPT. I also made an important change that I sent in subsequent announcements and discussion. I realized that if I had them cut and paste the text for their prompts and prompt results that this left open the possibility for easy cheating. They could enter whatever they wanted if it was text only. Unfortunately you have to design things so that the temptation or opportunity for cheating is as low as possible. Because of this I changed it up and required them to take screenshots of their prompts and results. This is actually easier for them to do and also makes cheating very difficult. After sharing that change, the work started to flow in. For my online courses, they submitted a PowerPoint with either VoiceOver added or they recorded themselves presenting it on video with the PowerPoint on screen; basically a Zoom type of screen recording while sharing their screen and work. For the in-person classes, they presented the same work, but live. I should note I have a VERY specific style I ask them to present in. I will write about that in my next blog post. This style not only makes for the best presentations (it really should be followed for presenting, no matter the reason) but it requires them to think more deeply about the question and answers. They have to learn about both and speak to what they've learned. As is well known, the ability to teach someone else about something really helps with mastery. This is why they present and why they present in my required format. Namely with short bullet points that require them to speak to the topic. No notes, no sentences to read. Just them, in their own words, explaining and discussing what they found. Using this presentation requirement, the results blew me away! I also learned of a significant additional benefit I had not previously considered. I'll mention among the things I observed: 1) The quality of their findings was outstanding. It was at a level I would expect much later in the semester (this is week three). In fact, I would say the quality was better than many I see near the end of the semester. It was obvious and dramatic. 2) The progression of prompts was overall good but not great. I will teach them continually about this. It's really an opportunity to improve their critical thinking and a great chance to help them with this. Some students nailed it, others not as much. Overall as I mentioned, for a first try, the quality of prompts was pretty good. 3) What they presented regarding their interpretations of what they found was overall significantly better than I had expected. They understood at a higher level what it was I was looking for and they were able to explain it to me. Here is the part I mentioned earlier that added a significant benefit I had not previously thought of. Since the quality of their presentations across the board was overall pretty good, the other students in class (not online because it is asynchronous) was also good! They were hearing quality answers from other students in their own words, over and over again. Even if through a very base level of osmosis, and of course as a higher level of learning for some, they were hearing the good stuff over and over! Wow. I hadn't considered that. The class as a whole was a really strong learning experience for both the presenter and the audience. Again, wow. I am really excited to see these types of things continue to play out. I will document them here as they do.

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