Student guidance for the responsible use of AI

By Denise Hough, University of Glasgow

Recent advances in generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) have made it accessible to the wider public through platforms such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT. AI tools are very powerful and can enhance student learning experiences, but it is important to understand how to use it in a way that is conducive to good academic practice (see Table 1).

The default position of most higher education institutes will likely be that students are allowed to use generative AI tools as a resource in any course component where online tools are accessible. Although there may be specific restrictions on certain assessments, which should be communicated appropriately by teaching staff.

Remember, AI tools are tools. They are not substitutes for intellectual growth. This guidance will support students to embrace AI responsibly, engage actively in studies and uphold academic integrity. Thereby, students will be able to harness the power of technology to enrich their education.

Course work itemResponsible useLimitations and things to avoid
LecturesClarify complex concepts and reinforce understanding, focussed around intended learning outcomes.Avoid relying solely on AI. You should engage with content.

AI may provide inaccurate information and is further limited by last software update.
Written workCan use to start literature search to understand main concepts.

May be useful in generating ideas, such as a list of topics.

Valuable for proofreading. Ask for feedback on your own work.

Assist with referencing format.

Understand academic integrity and always credit sources.

Keep a record of AI conversation.
AI is not good at critiquing or placing ideas in context of a scenario.

Plagiarism risk is high, and it is not acceptable to submit the AI generated content as it is, plagiarism checkers keep evolving to detect AI generated content.

AI generated lists of publications and other sources are predictions only, they may not truly exist.
Problem-based learningAsk for technical assistance, such as instructions on how to use R, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.

Ask for guidance or feedback to see if you explored all aspects of data interpretation.

See examples of how to report your calculation working.
Do not skip critical thinking by accepting AI generated answers without verification.

Never simply copy and paste questions and answers.
Test, ExamGenerate practise questions for self assessment.Do not cheat by using AI to generate your answers.
TutorialCreate scenarios to deepen your understanding.

Gain better insight into the problems presented to you
Do not copy answers without attempting problems yourself.

Do not let AI replace your active participation in discussions.
PracticalsAssist in troubleshooting.

Understanding protocols and experimental design.
Do not use AI to answer questions without understanding or reflecting.
Table 1. Summary of good academic practice for students in using AI across different course components.

Written assessments

For written assessments, additional guidance on AI use is important to develop essential skills and uphold academic integrity.

Not allowedAllowed
Do not let AI generate facts.Check facts against reliable resources and include a citation to the source.
Do not ask AI to rewrite your work, then copy it and present it as your own. Examples:
– Provide list of facts and ask to rewrite in paragraph style
– Ask to rewrite poor grammar or English
– Ask to rewrite so that it fits within word count

If you copy and paste entire AI generated answers, it will be considered as plagiarism.

Even AI cocreated work is considered collusion if you present it all as your own.

Do not use AI as a source for most of your information.
Develop your own writing skills by making your own attempts first, then ask AI for feedback on your writing. This gives you an opportunity to recognise ways in which you can improve your own writing.

Keep a record of your AI conversation to prove you used feedback to improve your writing.

Acknowledge AI as cocreator, but ensure that what you submit is truly your own work.

If you are unable to find the original source of information, you may cite AI as the source (format: personal communication), but note that AI is not a peer reviewed scientific source, which is where the bulk of your information should come from.
Table 2. Specific restrictions for students on the use of generative AI for written assessments.

Actions to uphold academic integrity

Using any form of AI in your university coursework, study, exams or research without acknowledging that input, counts as academic misconduct. The following actions are recommended:

  • If you use AI as a source of information (not recommended), you should acknowledge it as a form of personal communication as an in text citation in a format like: (Name of AI, personal communication, Month Day, Year). Example: (ChatGPT, personal communication, September 6, 2023)
  • If you used an AI tool in any other form, you should state this in an ‘Acknowledgements’ section. You should add the same information as for a personal communication like the example above, but also include a brief description of how you used it (e.g. improve writing style). This section should not contribute towards any word count limits.
  • You should provide a copy of your AI conversation as proof of responsible use. You can do this by including the shared link to your conversation as part of your acknowledgement. Note that some AI tools store conversations for a short period, so saving a backup copy is recommended.
  • You should include a web link to all other references that you cite (i.e. DOI link for peer reviewed items), which facilitates follow up on the authenticity of your sources.

Plagiarism software keeps improving in detecting AI generated text. If irresponsible use of AI is suspected in an assessment, teaching staff will need to investigate this further for possible student misconduct. Having a full record of your AI conversations is the best way for you to provide evidence of its responsible use, or to reflect upon for future improvement. Furthermore, it supports you in being transparent in your work, which is important for maintaining integrity and good work ethic.

See more detailed examples of how students can use AI:
Hough, D. (2023) Examples of using AI to support student learning & assessment in 1st year Life Sciences. University of Glasgow.

Attend the ALT Winter Summit on ethics and AI


  • Perhotelan says:

    What is the primary mission and purpose of ALT (Association for Learning Technology)?

  • Timos Almpanis says:

    Thanks for the interesting blog post. One thing I noticed is that on the first table the use of AI appears to be ‘Valuable for proofreading’, while on the second ‘Ask to rewrite poor grammar or English’ appears under the ‘Not allowed’ column.
    Can you elaborate further on this apparent contradiction?

    • Denise Hough says:

      Of course. It is brilliant for improving writing skills, but how to go about that can make a difference in the learning process, avoiding over reliance and maintaining your work as ‘your own’ versus using AI as co-creator. The more responsible approach would be to ask the AI tool for feedback on your own work, similar to receiving feedback from a teacher, tutor, etc. but you are the one deciding what and how to apply the suggestions. The less responsible way (subject to task of course) is to ask AI to rewrite your work o your behalf. This involves AI as co-creator and acknowledgment of its contribution should be made i the work. All this applies for producing some sort of output (e.g. written assessment) and not for the process of learning (i.e. just a conversation that didn’t lead to an output).

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