Generative AI

Generative artificial intelligence (Gen-AI) is a form of artificial intelligence where computer programs use sets of data and information to create new content based on data patterns, context, probability and human feedback (Gimlet, 2023). Gen-AI can produce text (ChatGPT, etc.), images (DALL-E, Midjourney, etc. ), summarise research (Elicit) and more.

This technology is rapidly advancing and becoming widely available for use. It’s also being incorporated to existing programs like Grammarly and search engines. For more information about the history of and ethics behind AI, view our 23 Things Module: AI.

There are many ways that Gen-AI can be utilised in study and assignments, but first you must check your assignment guidelines to ensure usage is allowed. Once you have established that using Gen-AI is permitted, it is important to be aware of what use is allowed within that unit and to critically evaluate outputs. Gen-AI technology isn’t perfect; it reflects the bias and prejudice of the data it was trained on and could contain misinformation. It is vital that you critically assess both the input and the output of Gen-AI created content.

If you incorporate content from Gen-AI to the extent that you are simply a co-author or creator, you could be committing academic misconduct and failing to demonstrate your own views and understanding of a topic. It should never replace your ability to think critically, analyse information, and develop your own writing and assessment content.

How do I use Gen-AI?

Curtin’s position is that Gen-AI cannot be used unless permission is explicitly granted by your Unit Coordinator (UC). You should follow any instructions from your UC on how you are allowed to use, document, review and acknowledge your use of AI.

If you have permission to use Gen-AI in an assessment, you must:

  1. Document your use. This includes taking screenshots and saving all work produced, such as prompts used, answers produced, purpose of use, etc.
  2. Review accuracy of statements and sources using critical reading strategies.
  3. Acknowledge and reference use. Use in-text citations when quoting or paraphrasing and include a declaration of use after your reference list. Guides on how to reference Gen-AI are available.

What can I use Gen-AI for?

In general, you can use Gen-AI for study-related purposes to help improve your efficiency and understanding. You do no need to seek specific permission to use Gen-AI, as long as the use is not related to your assessments. If in doubt, you should check with your lecturer.

It is also important to note that quality differs between Gen-AI programs. Outputs can be incorrect, biased, or include non-existent sources. Ensure you review the output before use.

Below are some suggestions on how Gen-AI can be used and you can find others in the Academic Integrity Guide for Students. You can use these prompts word for word when using Gen-AI, replacing the square brackets with the required information. Another successful approach to developing effective prompts is to use the Role-Task-Instructions-Requirements format.

Generating a study schedule

  • Prompt: “Today is [day] [date] [month]. I have a [word count] word assignment due on [date] [month]. Generate a schedule for me in table format so I can get my assignment completed a week early, allowing time for research, reading, writing and editing.”
  • Prompt: “Today is [day] [date] [month]. I have a [subject] exam on [date] [month]. Generate a study schedule for me in table format on a range of related concepts, including relevant activities so I can study effectively.”

Creating revision questions on topics in preparation for exams

  • Prompt: “I am currently revising [topic] in preparation for an exam. Please provide me with ten questions on this topic to work through as revision.”
  • Prompt: “You are a subject expert in [area]. I need you to test me on my knowledge of concepts in [area]. Provide me with questions on concepts and I will answer them.”
  • Prompt: “I thought the answer to [question] was [your interpretation of the answer], but this is incorrect. Could you explain this to me?”

Providing tips on how to use programs, like Microsoft Word and Excel

  • Prompt: “I want to add a contents page to my assessment in Microsoft Word. How would I use the program to do this and make my formatting clear?”
  • Prompt: “I am having trouble doing [thing you are having trouble with] in [program]. How can I fix this?”
  • Prompt: “I am using Microsoft Excel and I want a function that [thing you want the function to do]. How can I do this?”

Generating explanations and practice problems to help you understand tough concepts

  • Prompt 1: “I am having trouble understanding [concept]. Can you explain this to me using simple terms and examples?”
  • Prompt 2: “Can you elaborate on [information provided in prompt 1]?”
  • Prompt 3: “Can you provide a good metaphor/mnemonic to help me understand this concept?”
  • Prompt 4: “I thought the meaning of [concept] was [your interpretation of the meaning], but this is incorrect. Could you explain this to me?”
  • Prompt 5: “I am having difficulty understanding [concept]. Could you create some practice problems for me to work through so I can improve my understanding?”

Checking references Note that gen-AI tools will not get formatting of these 100% correct and you will still need to check that the list meets Curtin’s referencing guidelines.

  • Prompt : “These references need to be in [referencing style] style, including accurate punctuation, capitalisation and placement of italicised text. What do I need to do to fix this list? [Paste list here]”

If you receive specific approval for use from your Unit Coordinator, there are a range of ways Gen-AI can be used in assignments. Again, it is important to stay within the bounds of the permissions that have been granted. The suggestions below may not be appropriate, even when permission has been given, so check your unit guidelines carefully. What is allowed in one unit, may not be authorised in another, so contact your UC if you are unsure.

Providing feedback on your assessment before submission In this case, you cannot ask Gen-AI tools to rewrite your assessment to fix any errors.

  • Prompt: “I want you to provide feedback on my [assignment type]. Please critique my [introduction/conclusion/discussion/body paragraph/argument/method] and provide suggestions on what can be improved. [Paste assignment section here].”
  • Prompt: “I need to answer the following question in [assignment type] form: ‘[insert assignment question here]’. Please critique my assignment below and give me feedback on my answer to the question. [Paste assignment here].”

Finding mistakes in math problems

  • Prompt: “This is my maths problem: [problem]. This is my solution: [solution]. Please identify and describe the errors in my working.

Finding basic information on a topic to assist with searching for academic sources

  • Prompt: “Provide me with an overview of [topic], including common alternative search terms. What are some recent challenges or developments in the area? Who are the seminal authors in this area?

Checking your code

  • Prompt: “I have written this code in [code language]. Can you please check this for me and report back any errors?”

Additional examples of appropriate and inappropriate use of Gen-AI software can be found in Curtin’s Academic Integrity Guide for Students.

University courses assess your understanding of a topic or concept, as well as your ability to form opinions, think critically and communicate your ideas. For these reasons, you cannot use Gen-AI in the creation or critical analysis of content, including:

  • Writing any part of your assignment without Unit Coordinator approval or source attribution.
  • Paraphrasing or re-writing any part of your assignment.
  • Putting unit content (e.g. slides, unit outlines, speech-to-text) into text-based Gen-AI to create summaries.
  • Uploading any copyrighted content, including unit materials, scholarly journal articles, other texts etc.
  • Answering or checking online test questions.
  • Creating presentations based on content from your unit materials, reading or assignments.
  • Translating written assessments from another language into English. Your English language proficiency is being tested and the tools are often imperfect.

Additional examples of appropriate and inappropriate use of Gen-AI software can be found in Curtin’s Academic Integrity Guide for Students.

Critically reviewing outputs

Critically reviewing outputs produced by Gen-AI involves critical reading and thinking skills. Additionally, it may not provide you with a comprehensive range of information, as AI’s ability to access scholarly information is currently limited by paywalls.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Are the sources provided real and accurate? Can I find the original source and cross-check the information provided?
  • Is the output biased?
  • How up-to-date is the information provided? Some text-based AI generators work from information available only up to a certain date.

For more information on how to review information, visit the critical thinking guide.

Referencing Gen-AI

Gen-AI outputs must be referenced using in-text citations and in a declaration following your reference list.

Undisclosed use can be considered dishonest or unfair behaviour, therefore considered academic misconduct.

For specific referencing details, view the Gen-AI sections of our referencing guides below.

Further information