In partnership with the Department of English and World Languages, the Center for Writing Excellence at Augusta University continues its the Writing Across the Curriculum Speaker Series with a virtual event on Oct. 18 featuring S. Scott Graham, PhD, of the University of Texas at Austin.
Graham, an associate professor in the Department of Rhetoric & Writing and the associate director for Health, Humanities and Medicine at the Humanities Institute, will present on “AI & Student Writing: Perils and Pedagogy.” He will discuss the opportunities for and dangers of AI use in the classroom.
Graham’s research is devoted to exploring the ethical use of artificial intelligence in scientific and medical writing, and he teaches classes on AI, writing and persuasion in a variety of contexts. He has published three books, including his latest The Doctor & The Algorithm, published by Oxford University Press, and his recent essays on AI have appeared in Inside Higher Education, Stat News and Composition Studies.
“I use AI extensively in my research. I also teach students to build AI systems and to write with those that already exist,” Graham said. “I wish we lived in a world where society thought more about when and how to roll out new technologies. But, unfortunately, the ‘move fast and break things’ culture of Silicon Valley means our students already have access to AI whether we want them to or not. All in all, I think this means higher ed has a responsibility to teach critical technology appraisal in multiple ways throughout our curricula.”
The presentation will outline the nature of AI technologies like ChatGPT, explore the risks associated with academic misconduct and FERPA violations and offer some insights into how professors and students can use this new technology to support effective writing instruction.
“My experience tells me that teaching with or around AI is going to work better than teaching against it. That means we have to figure out some new best practices for going forward,” said Graham. “Every classroom is different, of course, so mostly I hope those who log in are inspired to consider how they might adapt what I talk about to their individual teaching goals.”
Graham was recommended for this series by James Garner, associate director of the CWE.
“I was a PhD student in the Department of Rhetoric & Writing at the University of Texas at Austin, where Dr. Graham is a professor,” said Garner. “Because of Dr. Graham’s multifaceted and highly regarded expertise in artificial intelligence and machine learning, health policy and writing pedagogy, he was the first person we thought to invite for this event. AU faculty will benefit from his well-informed and thoughtful responses to the emerging question of how AI is changing our pedagogical landscape.”
“Faculty and students have reacted positively to conversations about generative artificial intelligence. During AI Week, many faculty members commented that they would prioritize discussing AI with their students. I know several are also testing out assignments that incorporate AI. Importantly, most faculty seem to recognize that students want to have these conversations and are seeking guidance from faculty about what is ethical and what isn’t. The assignments I’ve seen use AI in ways that promote rather than inhibit learning among students,” said Candis Bond, PhD, director of the Center for Writing Excellence.
The CWE is housed within the Pamplin College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences but serves students, faculty and staff across the entire university. This includes providing faculty and staff with professional development to support student success.
The speaker series, which aims to provide faculty with support for integrating writing into the curriculum across and in the disciplines, launched back in March with University of Georgia writing scholars Rebecca Hallman Martini, PhD, and Lindsey Harding, PhD, presenting on “Writing-to-Learn Perks, Prompts, and Plans: How to Integrate Writing to Facilitate Student Learning Efficiently and Effectively.” The CWE offers information about the series as well as other AI and WAC-related resources on its Writing Across the Curriculum and in the Disciplines webpage.
“I am eager to learn from Dr. Graham’s presentation, and I thank Drs. Bond and (Trent) Kays for their leadership,” said Dr. Seretha D. Williams, PhD, chair and professor of English in the Department of English and World Languages. “Educating the faculty on AI will help all stakeholders make good policy and pedagogy decisions.”
“(Sessions like this) are a lot of fun, but my favorite part is getting the opportunity to think seriously about the future of higher education with dedicated faculty from around the country,” Graham said. “Sometimes it’s a little scary to think about the future of higher education, but the folks who show up to my talks are always passionate about making the best possible environments for student learning. Higher ed is at its best when it has that kind of energy.”
The workshop will be held via Zoom from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 18, and is free and open to all Augusta University faculty and staff. To register, visit https://augusta.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_1YdQtkokiGDSoNo.
“I hope faculty gain deeper insight into the ethical concerns surrounding AI not only in higher education settings but also in fields like medicine and health,” said Bond. “Dr. Graham’s expertise in health communication is relevant to many programs and career paths at Augusta University. I think students, faculty and staff will leave this event with a lot to contemplate and apply.”