Course Policies

Welcome to the Course Policy section of the Teach@CUNY AI Toolkit. Here, instructors can find guidance and models for developing clear, transparent expectations for student use of AI. The section starts with initial considerations and tips for setting course policy on AI use in the classroom, and then offers a range of policy statements that instructors can adapt to their syllabi. It then provides sample attribution statements, followed by guidelines for promoting academic integrity.

Initial Considerations

Let’s be clear. Plenty of CUNY students, faculty, and staff already use generative AI tools. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for managing this technology, and avoidance is not the answer. AI detection software fails to deliver on its promises, and use of detection tools can wrongly penalize and harm students. AI detection tools have been found to incorrectly flag students’ work as generated by AI tools (Fowler 2023) and these detection tools are more likely to label text written by non-native English speakers as AI-written (Myers 2023). For the most part, institutional bans against AI tools have been ineffective.

Research Study: "Using AI Tools"
Zhadko, Olena. “AI and the Syllabus.” Teaching Matters: Special Series on Generative AI, November 2023.

A more effective starting point is to experiment with generative AI technology, and tinker with tools like ChatGPT and Midjourney. Take note of glitches and red flags. Preserve or screencapture any AI outputs that excite or unsettle you, or which represent the affordances and drawbacks of the technology when applied to student learning.

In time, ask yourself — how might generative AI impact not only how I teach, but also how my students learn? What pedagogical opportunities may be made possible or more feasible through the adoption of this technology? What tools threaten to automate learning processes, and how might these ultimately constrain critical and creative thinking among students?

The Baruch Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) suggests that instructors explore ChatGPT to assess first hand its potential role in teaching and learning. Instructors who experiment with ChatGPT can improve their working knowledge of how these tools function, what they do well, and where their limitations and boundaries lie. These experiences can guide instructors toward a more critical and functional awareness of these tools and their place in college instruction.

Student needs should also inform the adoption of generative AI in the classroom. This requires reflecting upon how AI tools might support students as they navigate different stages of the learning process in different disciplines. It also requires thinking through what it means if generative AI can credibly replace intermediary steps in a learning process. Should that learning design be revised or replaced?

Setting Policy

To find a productive balance between uncritical acceptance and prohibition, instructors should view AI course policy options on a spectrum. The perils and promises of generative AI are both very real, and require thoughtful reflection before instructors settle on an AI course policy.

Too often, course policies are designed to police student behavior and uphold academic mores. Yet strict policy statements can stunt student creativity and strain student-teacher relationships. Instructors might consider how to articulate AI course policies that promote self-advocacy and growth mindset among students, rather than simply imposing strict controls or punitive measures around the use of these tools in their class.

At the same time, in this moment of change and sense making, course policies that permit open use of AI technology would benefit from class time devoted to active learning opportunities with AI. Here, instructors may consider teaching strategies that promote their students’ critical and functional awareness of AI tools, using holistic, process-oriented instruction to light the way.

Instructors might also set course policy on the basis of direct and open discussions with their students. This provides a chance to learn more about how students are using AI technology, and to refine approaches in dialogue with actual rather than imagined uses of these tools.

Policy Statements

Drawing on the work of educators at The University of Oregon and Gettysburg College, examples below provide a range of syllabi language on AI for instructors to select from as they work toward a policy statement that addresses the unique needs of their class and student learners.

Require GenAI use for certain tasks or assignments

Learning to use GenAI tools [such as ChatGPT or whichever the course requires….], and recognize their pluses and minuses, are important emerging skills. Students in this class will thus be required to use specific GenAI tools to complete certain assignments. Instructions and guidelines for required GenAI use will be provided in class, and we will thoroughly discuss and debrief our class engagement with GenAI.

Allow open GenAI use but require proper citation of GenAI content

Students may use GenAI tools in this class to help with course work and assignments. Helpful uses include brainstorming ideas, creating outlines, editing, and so forth. However, if you include in your assignment submissions any content that is generated by GenAI, such as text, images, and graphics, you must cite the GenAI tool that is your source, in the same way that you must cite any content you use from other sources, such as books, articles, videos, the internet, etc. I will also provide helpful resources for how best to use GenAI to support your learning process and work. Although open use of GenAI is allowed in this class, be advised that GenAI suggestions or content can be inaccurate, incomplete or otherwise problematic; using GenAI can impact negatively the quality of your work and your grades.  I welcome questions and discussion about GenAI use in this course – let’s talk!

Allow open GenAI use but require documentation of use and proper citation of GenAI content

Students can use GenAI tools in this class to help with course work and assignments.  Helpful uses include brainstorming ideas, creating outlines, editing, and so forth. If you use a GenAI tool, you need to document your use, including the tool you use and when, where, and how in your work process you used it. In certain cases, as part of your documentation, I may ask you to submit any GenAI results you obtained, so you need to keep GenAI-created drafts and logs of your interactions with GenAI tools; failure to provide such documentation may result in a grade reduction in certain instances. I will provide helpful resources for how best to use GenAI to support your learning process and work.

Along with documentation of your GenAI use, you are also required to cite GenAI if you use any GenAI-created content in your work submissions — for example, text or images or graphics generated by GenAI tools. You need to treat GenAI just like other sources such as books, articles, videos, etc.  I will provide guidelines for how you need to cite GenAI tools as sources.  

Allow certain GenAI uses but prohibit GenAI content

Students can use GenAI tools in this class to help with certain aspects of course work and assignments. This includes brainstorming ideas, creating a paper outline, or summarizing research findings of articles. However, you cannot use content such as text or graphics created by GenAI tools in your work; rather, you must be the author/creator of your work submissions. For example, you can use a GenAI tool to suggest a paper outline based on a draft you provide it, but you cannot submit a paper with text generated by GenAI as if the text is your own writing. If you are in doubt or have questions about a particular GenAI tool and if its use is okay, check in with me and let’s discuss!

Allow GenAI use only with explicit permission for very specific tasks or assignments

Students may use GenAI tools in this course only with explicit instructor permission for certain tasks or on certain assignments. I will clearly indicate when you can use GenAI and provide clear guidelines for which GenAI tools are allowed and in what ways you can use them. I will also indicate how you will document your use of GenAI. The bottom line is, unless permission has been given, you should not use GenAI in this course. If in doubt, ask!

Do not allow GenAI use or content

Students may not use GenAI tools in this course to produce course materials or assignments in whole or in part. All work you submit for this course toward completion of course requirements must be your own original work done specifically for this course and without substantive assistance from others, including GenAI. Work you’ve completed for previous courses or are developing for other courses this term also should not be submitted for this course. If you have any questions or doubts, please ask!

Instructors can find additional syllabus statements on AI tools via this crowdsourced document: AI Tool Syllabus Statements

AI Attribution and Citation

Attribution and Citation of AI-Generated Content

When using AI-generated content, proper attribution is essential. This should include the name of the AI tool used, the date of generation, and a brief description of how the AI contributed to the work.

For example, if you incorporate AI-generated text, you might note:

“This section was generated with the assistance of [AI Tool Name] on [Date], and subsequently edited for context and accuracy.”

For media or creative work where AI played a role, include a statement such as:

Portions of this work were initially generated using [AI Tool Name] and later modified.

Instructors can refer students to the following Monash University page for additional assistance on how to credit, disclose, or recognize the usage of generative AI.

Citation Styles

MLA Style: How do I cite generative AI in MLA style?

APA Style: How to cite ChatGPT

Chicago Style: Citation, Documentation of Sources