AI Use in The Writing Center: Considerations for Faculty and Students
Updated August 2023
Real conversation is at the heart of every Writing Center appointment, and using conversation to help students improve their writing and writing process will take priority over the use of any technology, including generative-AI.
WC consultants will always honor the professor’s assignment sheet and/or syllabus guidelines when working with students. If a professor prohibits all use of AI tools, consultants will not use those tools in a tutoring session.
Because WC consultants see students’ writing before it is submitted to the professor, consultants are not required to report unpermitted AI-use; they are, however, encouraged to report this to the WC director.
If the assignment permits use if AI tools, WC consultants may use them in the session as appropriate and if the student requests it. However, not all consultants are comfortable using the technology and may approach a session without the use of AI tools.
The Writing Center does not promote the use of AI tools to create whole works or full paragraphs of text.
To Faculty: What can faculty do to ensure that their students are receiving the appropriate assistance in The Writing Center in regard to the use of AI tools?
When students visit The Writing Center, one of the first questions consultants ask is “Do you have an assignment sheet?” Both students and WC consultants need guidance on assignment sheets regarding the level of use allowed (if any) with AI tools. In addition to a statement on your syllabus, it would be helpful to provide an AI statement on each assignment sheet. [Click here for sample statements.]
To Students: Can students bring AI-generated work to The Writing Center?
The short answer: yes
The longer answer: It is the student’s responsibility to disclose any AI-use to the WC consultant. If a student comes to The Writing Center with an assignment that does not clearly indicate if AI tools are allowed, WC Consultants may not think to ask the student about their AI use or course policy. If a student admits to using AI tools to generate work for an assignment that does not allow the use of those tools, the WC consultant will inform the student that the use of AI tools in this instance could be a violation of the Honor Code and of the professor’s assignment guidelines. This response assumes that the assignment sheet and/or syllabus clearly indicate that AI tools are not allowed for use with this assignment. Based on what help the student wants, the consultant may brainstorm with the student new ideas and strategies for completing the assignment without AI tools.
If an assignment allows, and both the student and tutor are comfortable using AI tools, the WC consultant may employ AI tools in these specific ways during sessions:
Gathering general information on a topic. Ex: What’s a historiography?
Brainstorming ideas for a topic. Ex: What are some arguments surrounding immigration?
Formatting citations. Ex: Format this source into APA style.
Outlining ideas. Ex: Using this thesis statement, create an outline for a 5-page paper.
Revising outlines. Ex: Any recommendations for revising this outline?
Rewording of ideas. Ex: What’s another way of saying…?
Specific language issues. Ex: What are some suggestions for making this paragraph more concise?
In addition, WC consultants may discuss with students the accuracy and potential bias of AI-generated material and citation of AI-generated material and/or use of AI tools (if required). Consultants will err on the side of caution and suggest the student both cite the material and ask the professor for more guidance.