Pedagogical Principles, Writing, and ChatGPT

By Olivia Rowland, WIC GTA

Sarah Tinker Perrault, Nadia Jaramillo Cherrez, and Olivia Rowland hosted a workshop entitled “Pedagogical Principles, Writing, and ChatGPT” on February 24. The workshop covered three key pedagogical principles for teaching writing, in both WIC and non-WIC classes, and discussed how these approaches might engage with AI tools like ChatGPT.

First, Write-to-Learn (WTL) activities like summarizing course content, asking questions, and making connections encourage students to participate in active and inquiry-based learning. Because these activities can be done in class, and because many WTL activities demand critical thinking, AI tools do not have much of a role in WTL.

Second, Learning to Write (LTW) activities help students develop strong writing habits, including writing multiple drafts and doing metacognitive reflection about their writing processes and rhetorical choices. Here, tools like ChatGPT may be of use in helping students generate ideas about a topic; however, LTW requires that students do their own revision and self-reflection, which AI tools cannot do.

Third, LTW activities can also assist students in learning disciplinary conventions and making rhetorical choices that align with those conventions. This knowledge of disciplinary values encompasses understanding what counts as valid evidence, claims, sources, and organizational structures. AI tools such as ChatGPT can be the most helpful here, as analyzing and revising AI-generated texts can help both students and faculty identify disciplinary conventions.

Workshop participants practiced critiquing a response generated by ChatGPT and explaining why it did (and mostly did not) read like it was written by an experienced academic writer. Participants also shared throughout the workshop how they use WTL and LTW activities in their classes. Their responses are available here, and you can also view a full recording of the workshop here.

Using Writing to Support Discipline-Specific Learning

By Sarah Tinker Perrault, WIC Director

On March 3, WIC Director Dr. Sarah Perrault and a group of faculty at OSU Cascades met to talk about how to use informal, low-stakes writing to promote disciplinary learning in both WIC and non-WIC classes. 

Key points covered include:

  • Research shows how including even non-graded writing in classes can help students understand, retain, and articulate subject matter knowledge.
  • Low-stakes writing exercises work best when students have opportunities to practice them during class time, and when they are given this time on a regular basis (at least once a week).
  • Such exercises do not have to take up large amounts of time; even a few minutes of writing has been shown to have positive effects.

Dr. Perrault shared ideas about specific low-stakes writing exercises. Faculty practiced using one and talked about how they might use it in their classes.

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