Columns May/June 2024

Four Guidelines for The Effective Use of Artificial Intelligence Writing Tools in Classrooms


By Regina Purnell-Adams, Member

Generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) has revolutionized the writing concept. As a professor and technical communicator, I have pondered, “How can we leverage AI writing technologies in the classroom?” Based on my experience and research, I’d like to provide a few recommendations.

Generative artificial intelligence writing tools are openly embraced by a growing number of users internationally. This presents as an opportunity to save time by generating ready-made products (e.g. general correspondence, essays, summaries, etc.) that have already been synthesized and refined. Currently, ChatGPT and Gemini are two of the most popular generative AI writing tools used (Marr, 2024). Technical communicators are using AI generated content from these tools to augment and support the products they develop. AI writing tools can also serve as instructional aids in classrooms and seminars.

Despite the increasing use of generative AI writing tools, this technology is still met with some criticisms. How accurate is the data or output? Will responses differ for multiple users submitting the same request? Can plagiarism be controlled? When is it acceptable to use AI writing tools and when is it not? Of the different criticisms, one that has resonated with me as a professor in higher education is, “How can we look at the positive attributes associated with this technology and incorporate standardized practices to benefit educators and students (because there is no going back)?” Many students are eager to use these tools on their academic journey. So, here are four guidelines for instructors to effectively use AI writing tools in their classrooms:

#1 – Incorporate advanced artificial intelligence writing tools once students have mastered effective writing skills.

The skills associated with writing (organization, grammar, argument development, etc.) are still very much needed as those fundamentals are tied to speech too. However, once students can successfully demonstrate these skills, “advanced AI writing tools” can be used as an enhancement mechanism, particularly in higher levels of education. By advanced AI writing tools, I am referring to tools that respond to your “write a paper on XYZ” request in a matter of seconds, with a full human-like document that can span from a few paragraphs to several pages. Ideally, the use of calculators in math classes presents a similar implementation concept. First, students learn mathematical fundamentals without a calculator. Once they have proven that they understand the basic concepts, they “graduate” to using calculators. Then, the use of a system to provide the solution is welcomed with less resistance because it’s more of an aid to be used at higher levels. Of note, if there are a few drastic outliers in the classroom, it can skew when the “right time” for implementation is. Specifically, if some students are below the expected standard for a given level, then instructors might wait to introduce advanced tools that automatically deliver a quick solution.

#2 – Establish clear parameters that work for your classroom.

When analyzing learning objectives, consider if AI writing tools help or hinder students in meeting the desired goal. AI writing tools are more beneficial in certain disciplines/classrooms. For example, in English Composition the use of AI writing tools might be limited. On the other side of the spectrum, if you are a chemistry professor and you want your students to write a quality lab report, AI writing tools might be extremely beneficial. AI writing tools can assist with organizing the material, and generating a draft (Salvagno et al., 2023) to easily input the corresponding technical data.

#3 – Teach students how to properly use AI writing technologies, before you allow them to use them.

AI writing technologies should be used to assist students in their coursework and to support overall learning objectives. In assisting students, AI can come up with a draft (as mentioned in the previous step) and the students can revise the draft to accurately reflect their thoughts and opinions. In reverse, students can develop a draft and use AI writing tools to revise it. Another way to properly use AI entails fact checking. When facts are presented in an AI generated document, it is the students’ responsibility to ensure the facts are correct. It is also the students’ responsibility to accurately cite their sources (to include revealing whether an AI writing tool was used, which AI tool was used, and for what portion of the assignment). If students are going to use this type of technology, it is important to ensure they have familiarity and expertise with it (Weissman, 2023).

#4 – Evaluate how AI writing tools impact your classroom and adjust accordingly.

The implementation in various disciplines/classrooms will be an iterative process. If you choose to open your classroom to generative artificial intelligence writing tools, do so gradually. For example, start with one assignment that isn’t heavily weighted and track the following items:

  • Impact on learning objective(s) & students.
  • Ease of use.
  • Resources: software purchase & the amount of time spent/saved on utilizing an AI writing tool.
  • Final quality of the assignment.

Based on what the metrics reveal, instructors can then choose to remove AI writing tools, keep the status quo, or add heavier weighted assignments to their curriculum. Successful implementation of AI writing tools will require instructors to initially “test” its use in the classroom to develop a winning strategy for everyone.

These four guidelines are a mere starting point for how to welcome generative AI writing tools in the classroom. A key concern is that generative AI poses a threat to education (Lo, 2023). However, instead of looking at it as a threat, it may be an opportunity to use newer technologies to elevate writing practices and written products in classrooms.


Lo, Chung Kwan. “What is the impact of ChatGPT on education? A rapid review of the literature.” Education Sciences 13, no. 4 (2023): 410.

Marr, Bernard. “5+ Generative AI Writing Tools Everyone Should Know About.” Forbes, March 6, 2024,

Salvagno, Michele, Fabio Silvio Taccone, and Alberto Giovanni Gerli. “Can artificial intelligence help for scientific writing?” Critical care 27, no. 1 (2023): 75.

Weissman, Jeremy. “ChatGPT is a plague upon education.” Inside Higher Ed 8 (2023).

Dr. Regina Purnell-Adams is the Professor of Aerospace Studies at The University of Miami. Prior to coming to “The U,” Regina was an Assistant Professor and The Director of Curriculum in the Management Department at the United States Air Force Academy. She has over 18 years of military service ranging from aircrew to Pentagon-Level Program Management.

Dr. Purnell-Adams holds a BA in Chemistry (Ole Miss, 2005), an MBA (Trident University, 2008), and a PhD in Technical Communication and Rhetoric (Texas Tech University, 2018).