Ursinus Faculty Discusses Generative AI

By Sidney Belleroche



If you have been on the internet in the past year, you have likely heard of generative artificial intelligence (AI), mainly programs like Chat GPT. Some reading this have already experimented with it. Google, an industry leader in generative AI with their Bard™ program, defines generative AI as “the use of AI to create new content, like text, images, music, audio, and videos.”

If you have also been on the internet during that same timeframe, you have likely also heard about the discourse surrounding generative AI in the school setting. Within the classroom, there have been growing concerns about students using generative AI to complete assignments and essays and failing to produce their own ideas. However, proponents of generative AI argue that it has a place in the classroom and can be used as a supplement to students’ learning.

 Ursinus is no exception to the discourse. Ursinus faculty have held meetings to discuss the potential integration of AI in the classroom and the language in the student handbooks about academic dishonesty. During the most recent meeting—a salon held on February 1st—select professors, including Dr. Talia Argondezzi, the director of the Center for Writing and Speaking, continued the discussion.

Despite being a scholar in the field that is perhaps most central to the generative AI debate, Dr. Argondezzi sees the potential upside to generative AI in writing. “AI is exciting for writing,” Dr. Argondezzi stated. “It can help with outlining and brainstorming.” However, despite her receptiveness to this new technology, Dr. Argondezzi reiterates that she is on ‘no side’ of the debate and wants work to come from students’ minds. She says, “I ask students not to use generative AI to impersonate themselves. I want students to use their abilities to generate their writing.” Dr. Argondezzi also believes students should be ‘active and conscious’ participants in their writing when using editors such as Grammarly. Of course, she recommends the Center for Writing and Speaking to think with another person.

While some may be hesitant about implementing generative AI into the curriculum, Dr. Kelly Sorenson, associate dean of Academic Affairs and Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies, is bullish on the concept. “Next time I teach, I’m going to have my students use generative AI,” Dr. Sorenson laughed. “It has its strengths and limitations. I have other ways to see if students have learned in my classes. But instead when I’m meeting students about plagiarism as an academic dean, my job is to hold students to the expectations about AI contained in each class’s specific syllabus.” 

It’s clear that generative A.I. poses many benefits and discrepancies to both students and faculty on college campuses. Despite the complications that A.I. poses, the fact that Ursinus was willing to pose an open discussion on the topic is a good sign. Moving forward, hopefully the use of generative A.I. will become a more well-regulated and less controversial tool to use for students and faculty on college campuses alike.