Statement on Artificial Intelligence Writing Tools in Writing Across the Curriculum Settings

A Statement from the AWAC Executive Committee

January 30, 2023

For over a decade, researchers and entrepreneurs have been developing Artificial Intelligence text generators. In recent years, tools such as OpenAI’s GPT-2 and GPT-3 or Chat GPT have become sophisticated enough to produce texts that some readers find difficult to distinguish from texts produced by human writers. This development raises practical, pedagogical, and ethical concerns, including in academic settings.

A fundamental tenet of Writing Across the Curriculum is that writing is a mode of learning. Students develop understanding and insights through the act of writing. Rather than writing simply being a matter of presenting existing information or furnishing products for the purpose of testing or grading, writing is a fundamental means to create deep learning and foster cognitive development. Learning to write within a field or major is also one of the most critical ways that emerging scholars and professionals become enculturated in a discourse community. We are concerned that relying on AI text generators limits student learning and enculturation.

Our Position

As scholars in the discipline of writing studies more fully explore the practical and ethical implications of AI language generators in classroom and other settings, we underscore this: Writing to learn is an intellectual activity that is crucial to the cognitive and social development of learners and writers. This vital activity cannot be replaced by AI language generators.

That said, we understand that institutions, departments, and faculty will have to decide locally what role AI text generators should play in their situations. Some learning communities might reject these technologies outright, including them, for example, in campus policies about plagiarism. Other communities might find productive pedagogical roles for this technology; indeed, some writing teachers are having students explore and experiment, in a critical fashion, with AI writing: its potential for aspects of the writing process, its limitations, its ethics, its costs. Furthermore, in some professional fields, AI tools have been available for years, and professors in those fields have incorporated attention to them in teaching.

Context, Past and Future

The history of writing is marked by changes in technologies that have shaped how people write and what writing can accomplish: from clay tablets to papyrus, quill pens to pencils, handwriting to typing to texting, words to image to design to multimodality, physical library to the world wide web. On one hand, AI text generators are yet another technology with potential uses in various invention, drafting, and editing processes. On the other hand, their potential autonomy from human writers makes them qualitatively different from previous technologies.

While exclusively having AIs generate writing does not engage students in an essential mode of learning, it is also clear that writing scholars and WAC faculty should explore whether–and, if so, how–AI text generation tools might be integrated into writing pedagogy. The WAC Clearinghouse hosts a page of useful resources: AI Text Generators and Teaching Writing: Starting Points for Inquiry. We might pose these research questions: Might the acts of critiquing, rewriting, or discussing AI-generated text foster growth? Are there scenarios where student writing might productively be complemented, supplemented, or assisted by AI language generators? Can this happen in ways that do not preempt student learning?

It is premature to provide answers to such questions, which need thoughtful investigation. We look forward to that research.

Reaffirming Best Practices

Current AI discussions remind us, yet again, of long-established best practices in Writing Across the Curriculum, grounded in research and extant for decades: designing meaningful and specific assignments that foster learning and develop skills; focusing on processes and practices such as peer-response and revision; encouraging writing in multiple genres, including ones connected to specific disciplinary practices.

We recommend fostering the kind of deep learning and cognitive development that students gain through writing to learn and through learning to write in specific situations.

About this Document

Joining the Executive Committee (Doug Hesse, Justin Rademaekers, Ann Blakeslee, Laurie Britt-Smith, Karen Moroski-Rigney, Sherri Craig, and Paula Roskinksi) in drafting was Stacey Sheriff. We sent a draft version of this statement to AWAC members in mid-January, and their thoughtful comments informed revisions. Contact: Doug Hesse, AWAC Chair, at dhesse@du.edu.

This statement is also available as a PDF.

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Call for AWAC-Sponsored Panel at GSOLE

Dear AWAC Members,

The Research and Publications Committee invites submissions for a guaranteed, AWAC-sponsored panel at the Global Society for Online Literacy Educators (GSOLE) annual conference. The call for proposals for the conference is below; to ensure timely submission by the conference deadline, please send your sponsored panel proposal to awacpublications@wacassociation.org by Sunday, October 23rd.

Be well,

Chris Basgier and Heather Falconer

AWAC Research and Publications Committee Co-Chairs

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The Global Society for Online Literacy Educators (GSOLE) welcomes proposals for its sixth online interactive conference convening live on Friday, February 3, 2023.

Online literacy education is an enduring and emerging field of practice and research. As we gather our community after experiencing emergency remote instruction due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we need to take stock of what we’ve learned, what has changed, and what remains the same. Conference presenters and participants represent a wide variety of educational contexts (e.g., K-12 schools, two-year colleges, graduate and professional programs, and tutoring and writing centers). We especially encourage presentations that help teachers, tutors, and administrators better understand how to incorporate overt instruction about antiracism and social justice into online writing and literacy curricula and programming at all levels. Proposals are due Sunday, October 30, 2022.

Presentation types include…

  • Panel Proposals (40-minute live presentations across 3-5 presenters)
  • Individual Paper Proposals (15-minute live presentations)
  • Individual Praxis Posters (5-minute prerecorded presentations and an accompanying praxis poster)
  • ePortfolio Gallery Submissions (5-minute prerecorded ePortfolio tours)

To learn more, please read the full call for proposals, including the proposal scoring rubric and example proposals. If you have questions, please email conferences@gsole.org for additional information.

CFP: IWAC 2023 Submission Deadline Extended to Oct. 31

CFP: IWAC 2023 Submission Deadline Extended

Virtual Workshop – Friday, 9/30 at 12pm ET

AWAC Colleagues,

The Mentoring Committee is excited to announce our first fall virtual workshop, “Turning the Page: Notes Towards Mindfulness, Motivation, and Meaningful Work at HBCU Writing Centers and Programs,” Friday, September 30th at 12 p.m. U.S. Eastern/11 a.m. U.S. Central/ 10 a.m. U.S. Mountain/ 9 a.m. U.S. Pacific, presented by Dr. Kendra Mitchell, Dr. Robert Randolph, Jr., and Amber Lunderman.

Workshop Overview

Drawing upon their award-winning 2018 International Writing Center Association keynote address, the presenters will discuss the strategies and techniques they employ in their writing programs to promote mindfulness, motivation, and meaningful work at HBCUs. They are exploring this meaningful work of mindful motivation in the HBCU writing centers as makerspaces. First, they will talk about practical mindfulness techniques that help to decrease anxiety, track intentionality, and promote reflection. Then, they will discuss the intersections of African American Language (AAL) and Edited American English (EAE) to provide students with a sense of agency and motivation. Lastly, they will speak about how writing ecologies, including writing centers, help promote a sense of meaningful work that extends beyond writing assignments.

For more information and to register, visit the Events page on the AWAC website.

Speaker Bios

Kendra Mitchell (she/her), is Director of Composition at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida, where she has taught composition, literature, and historical linguistics. She serves as an Executive Committee member for NCTE and was also appointed to the NCTE Committee for Change, a social justice-driven committee. Her research interests include the intersections of translanguaging, writing center studies, and Black ways of knowing. Dr. Mitchell’s writing center scholarship can be found in the Writing Center Journal, Praxis Journal, and several book collections. Her current scholarship includes mapping geospatial, social, and multimodal circulation of Black identities and culture at/as HBCUs found in her forthcoming co-edited special issue in the Journal of Multimodal Rhetorics, Transdisciplinarity @HBCUs: (Re)Writing Black Futures beyond the Margins, and her forthcoming HBCU writing center co-edited collection, Makin’ A Way Outta No Way: HBCUs, Writing Centers, & Antiracism.

Robert Randolph, Jr., PhD (he/him), is Director of The Writing Center at Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina. His research and teaching interests include 20th- and 21st-century African American literature and cultural production, socio-cultural foundations of education, and Black feminist and queer rhetorics and pedagogies. His notable publications include “The Queer Poetics of Social Justice: Literacy, Affect(ion), and the Critical Pedagogical Imperative” and “Shifting the Talk: Writing Studies, Rhetoric, and Feminism at HBCUs.”

Amber Lunderman (she/hers) is a Fall 2021 graduate of Florida A&M University with a bachelor’s degree in English. She currently works as a tutor in the FAMU Writing Resource Center and as a Marketing Assistant for Anhinga Press in Tallahassee. During her senior year, Amber was a student editor for FAMU’s literary Journal, CaKe, an experience which inspired her to want to pursue a post-graduate degree in Publishing. She will be attending Rosemont College in spring of 2023 where she will be on a quest to obtain a double degree in Publishing and Creative Writing. Amber is a lover of fantasy, sci-fi, magical realism, and historical fiction.

Questions? Please contact AWAC Mentoring Committee Co-Chairs Lindsay Clark (lclark@shsu.edu) and Amy Cicchino (cicchina@erau.edu).