Queen’s University lays out guidance for academic use of AI

Queen’s University campus. Photo via Queen’s University.

Queen’s University is in the process of updating its Teaching and Learning Statements, Guidelines and Resources in response to the increasing prevalence and relevance of Artificial Intelligence (AI).

John Pierce, Vice-Provost (Teaching and Learning) at the university, released a statement earlier this year, noting that “we must confront, understand and attempt to manage the use of this technology in higher education.”

While discussions are ongoing at Queen’s, Pierce suggested the following principles to guide the university’s initial approach to generative AI:

  • Queen’s will not ban the use of generative AI technologies.
    • This technology has already entered the educational system, is very difficult to detect, and is so widespread that it would be difficult, if not impossible, to prevent its use. In addition, many persuasive arguments have been made about the potential positive uses of generative AI.
  • Instructors should indicate if this technology can be used in a course and if so, what the parameters of its use will be.
    • It is clear that generative AI has distinct impacts on course assessment practices. Instructors have the most immediate sense of the potential impacts on their courses, and they are best placed to make key decisions about whether or not generative AI fits with their learning outcomes. It is essential, then, that instructors speak to their classes about their perspectives on generative AI and the conditions for its use in their courses.
  • Inappropriate use of generative AI would constitute a departure from academic integrity since it involves a misrepresentation of the student’s work and abilities.
    • Among the core values of academic integrity are honesty and fairness that establish a framework for teaching and learning for both undergraduate and graduate students at Queen’s. Honesty is manifest in “presenting one’s own academic work” and “acknowledging dependence on the ideas or words” of any other source. Fairness involves a “full acknowledgement” of sources. The use of generative AI instruments without the consent of the instructor or proper acknowledgement of these sources compromises the foundation for a community of open exchange of ideas. In terms of the departures from academic integrity, it also can potentially be considered a “use of unauthorized materials,” depending on how the instructor frames the course requirements. (See the Academic Integrity Policy Statement and the Academic Integrity Procedures – Requirements of Faculties and Schools).

To update academic integrity policy in light of generative AI, the Academic Integrity Subcommittee of the Senate Committee for Academic Development and Procedures has drafted updates to the types of departures from academic integrity in the context of generative artificial intelligence. These are expected to go forward for approval at the first Senate meeting of the academic year (October 2023), according to the university’s Summary of Generative AI in Preparation for the 2023-2024 Academic Year.

The summary also states that instructors should include a syllabus statement to advise students on the use of generative AI tools. These three statements were developed by the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science and shared with permission: 

  • Permitted with citation:
    • Students must submit their own work and cite the work that is not theirs. Generative AI writing tools such as ChatGPT are welcome in this class, provided you cite the material that they generate. Any other use constitutes a departure from academic integrity.
  • Permitted in specific assignments, with citation:
    • Students must submit their own work and cite the work that is not theirs. Generative AI writing tools such as ChatGPT are only permissible when explicitly noted in the assignment instructions. In these cases, be sure to cite the material that they generate. Any other use constitutes a departure from academic integrity.
  • Not permitted:
    • Using generative AI writing tools such as ChatGPT in your submitted work is not permitted in this class. This type of use constitutes a departure from academic integrity. 
    • Original work, completed wholly by you, is expected to be submitted in this course. The use of an artificial intelligence tool like ChatGPT is not permitted.

“As we enter a new academic year, the influence of artificial intelligence tools on teaching and learning will continue to be an area of focus for the Vice Provost, Teaching and Learning portfolio. We will continue to engage in consultation and research with the aim to advise and support the institution, academic units and instructors on the implications and opportunities presented when using this technology in our classrooms,” said the Office of the Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic) in a statement.

The Centre for Teaching and Learning at Queen’s has developed further resources introducing large language AI models and their impact on teaching.

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