This page provides guidance on frequently asked questions submitted by instructional staff at The Catholic University of America. Click on a question to reveal the answer below it. 

The FAQ was last updated on 2/14/24. It is intended to be a living document, and will be updated as new questions come in and new guidance becomes available.

A PDF version is also available. 

General Questions about ChatGPT and Artificial Intelligence

  • What is artificial intelligence?

    The Encyclopedia Britannica defines artificial intelligence (AI) as “the ability of a digital computer or computer-controlled robot to perform tasks commonly associated with intelligent beings.” AI generative tools can mimic and generate human writing, problem-solving, and conversation with high proficiency. For example, AI can write essays, solve intricate problems with detailed explanations, and generate mathematical proofs.
  • How does ChatGPT work?

    ChatGPT is a large language model (LLM) trained on a vast amount of text data such as books, articles, and websites to generate new text similar to the text it has seen before. LLMs use natural language processing techniques to perform tasks such as language translation, text summary, text generation, and more (Askonas & Litke, 2023).
  • Can ChatGPT pull information from audio-visual materials?

    ChatGPT 4 can accept images as input. Other AI tools (such as Descript or Adobe Firefly) can process video and audio.
  • Can AI write in languages other than English?

    Yes, language models have been trained to generate text in other languages. However, the capabilities and accuracy of AI in generating text in different languages may vary depending on the specific language and the quality of training data available. ChatGPT is generally proficient at reading and writing in several human and programming languages.
  • What can our minds do that artificial intelligence cannot? What is the value of human knowledge in a world in which AI is becoming very advanced?

    From what we can tell, AI can access knowledge across a vast swath of human history. However, AI requires us to know what we want to ask and what we want to say. Several aspects of human cognition are still unique and not fully replicated by AI. For example, human minds can exercise judgment, empathy, creativity, and critical thinking, which are essential in various aspects of education and human interaction. The present moment represents a chance to leverage AI for the good of humanity, specifically by helping to shine a light on what it really means to be human. At Catholic University, we aim to form individuals with something to say, who know how their lives and work connect to the great human traditions and the world's needs today.
  • Could new tech like this help us to see the value of spirituality?

    While AI technology like ChatGPT can provide information on various topics, including spirituality, a machine learning model cannot provide a nuanced view of complex and subjective matters such as the value of spirituality.
  • How do we know when ChatGPT makes mistakes?

    ChatGPT may generate inaccurate or nonsensical responses, misinterpret input, or fail to understand the context correctly. Students and instructors can identify mistakes by critically evaluating the responses generated, fact-checking information, and verifying accuracy using reliable sources.
  • How good is AI at duplicating opinions or personal experiences?

    AI can generate text that may resemble opinions or personal experiences based on patterns learned from data. However, it is important to note that AI does not have personal experiences or emotions as humans do. The opinions or personal experiences generated by AI are not based on lived experiences but are generated based on data patterns.
  • What will this conversation look like five years from now? How will ChatGPT influence our future?

    As technology continues to evolve, the conversations about AI tools and their impact on education and society will also evolve. While it is difficult to predict the exact trajectory of AI development, it is apparent that AI will have a transformative impact on how we get information, how we brainstorm ideas, and how we produce creative works. In higher education, the emergence of AI technologies will require modifications to our instructional approaches. We will need to determine which traditional teaching and evaluation techniques are at risk or need to be updated. Ultimately, AI serves as a powerful reminder of our humanity, more so than any previous technology. It pushes us to fulfill our educational commitment to nurturing individuals whose contributions cannot be duplicated or replaced by AI (Askonas & Litke, 2023).
  • We need to consider how AI will be used in different industries. Can we find industry experts to lead training sessions associated with specific schools or careers? (e.g., architecture, marketing, engineering, public policy, academic research in the humanities, etc.)

    Schools and departments are encouraged to invite industry experts to speak with their faculty and students. The conversation around AI will look different depending on the discipline, so different perspectives should be considered.

Instructional Issues

  • Is there a plan to help faculty keep up with new technologies? Are instructors expected to learn how AI works by using/trying it on their own? Are there any courses or workshops available?

    The Center for Teaching Excellence will be offering programming related to AI in collaboration with our Fall 2023 Faculty Fellows:
    • Dr. Sue Yeon Syn, Associate Professor, Department of Library and Information Science
    • Dr. Jonathan Askonas, Assistant Professor, Department of Politics
    • Dr. Justin Litke, Assistant Professor & Director of Undergraduate Studies, Department of Politics

    Another helpful resource is LinkedIn Learning, which you can access for free through the University Libraries. LinkedIn Learning is an online video training library taught by industry experts in software, creative, and business skills. You can explore courses such as How to Research and Write Using Generative AI Tools (1h 15 min); Prompt Engineering: How to Talk to the AIs (29 min); and Generative AI: Working with Large Language Models (1h 8 min).

    Although instructors are not expected to use AI in their courses, those who choose to do so can contact the CTE for guidance using our Service Request Form.

  • What are some concerns about using AI in education?

    Some concerns include data privacy and security issues, bias and fairness in AI algorithms, ethical implications of using AI for decision-making, and the potential for students to misuse AI for academic dishonesty.
  • How do we categorize AI-driven answers and teach the appropriate use of them?

    Consider teaching students that there is an appropriate use of AI tools so they do not focus on inappropriate use. For example, AI can support the early stages of research when brainstorming ideas. You can concurrently work with students by having checkpoints throughout the process to understand students' thinking and keep them accountable.
  • How can I teach a student to think well or make an argument if they can use AI tools to do so?

    While AI tools can aid in brainstorming ideas and generating content, AI tools cannot replace critical thinking, argumentation, and analysis. If you choose to use AI as a resource in your classroom, emphasize the importance of students developing their own thinking.
  • One of the reasons we ask students to write papers is because we want them to learn about a topic. If students are using AI to write their papers for them, what are they learning?

    Suppose students rely solely on AI tools to write their papers. In that case, they may miss out on the opportunity to actively engage with the subject matter and develop important skills that are crucial for their academic and professional growth. Writing papers allows students to develop critical thinking skills, engage with the material meaningfully, and improve their writing and communication skills.

    If you need support, please reach out to our liaison librarians, who can incorporate ChatGPT/AI into the library instruction they regularly offer on selecting and narrowing a paper topic, identifying reliable sources, and constructing a search strategy.

  • Can we use AI to develop curriculum and course syllabi?

    AI can assist in generating learning objectives, instructional activities, and syllabi. However, it is essential to incorporate human oversight and judgment, especially when professional schools, departments, or external certifications mandate specific standards and objectives. As the instructor, your expertise is crucial in aligning AI-generated materials with external requirements while considering the unique needs of your students and the context of your course. Also, as you develop course materials, consider aspects such as accessibility best practices and regular and substantive interaction (RSI) between instructors and students. Ensuring that course content is accessible to all learners and fostering active engagement between instructors and students is vital to the course design process.
  • Can we add new learning goals to our courses on the use of AI? For example, "students will be able to prompt AI tools to help brainstorm ideas, gather information, and support their writing processes."

    In consultation with your Dean or Chair, you can add learning goals to help your students develop skills in using AI tools responsibly and effectively. You need to determine what constitutes appropriate use of AI, how you want your students to cite AI-generated writing, at what point the student can claim ownership, etc., in conjunction with academic honesty policies.
  • What is the best way to design writing assignments to address AI plagiarism?

    • Consider choosing engaging writing topics that require critical thinking, analysis, synthesis, and reflection. Topics that relate to real-world issues or current events can encourage students to think critically and express their own ideas, reducing the temptation to rely solely on AI-generated content.
    • You can also encourage a process-oriented approach to writing assignments, including pre-writing, drafting, revising, and editing stages. This approach can help students develop their own ideas and voice.
    • Finally, you can use scaffolded assignments that build on each other, starting with smaller assignments that focus on specific writing skills, such as summarizing, paraphrasing, and citing sources, before moving on to larger assignments. This can help students develop proper writing and referencing skills progressively.


  • What should instructors do if they suspect a student has committed plagiarism?

    Each academic school handles academic integrity violations, with standards coordinated by The Office of the Provost. When encountering instances of plagiarism, it can be challenging to determine the level of awareness on the part of the student regarding their violation. In cases of uncertainty, especially for first-time offenses, it is advisable to approach the student with the benefit of the doubt. Consider allowing students an opportunity to learn from their mistakes and demonstrate improved citing skills in future assignments. Additionally, consider incorporating requirements such as outlines, annotated bibliographies, and drafts of essays to train students on the writing process rather than solely focusing on the final essay as the end product. As an instructor, you are responsible for clearly communicating academic honesty expectations to students and addressing any issues that may arise in your classroom. If you identify an instance of academic dishonesty, the first step is to inform the student and schedule a one-on-one meeting with them. Document the meeting in detail. If you determine that the assignment was knowingly plagiarized, fabricated, or completed dishonestly, you should follow the consequences outlined in your syllabus. Finally, report the issue to the dean of your school, providing as much detail as possible. The dean will maintain a record of students who have violated the Student Academic Dishonesty Policy and will address any concerning behavior patterns.
  • Can Turnitin catch ChatGPT plagiarism?

    Turnitin and other plagiarism detection tools are actively developing mechanisms to detect AI-generated content. However, these systems are not completely reliable as AI writing tools continue to change and evolve. Plagiarism detection software can only provide a probability that a text was generated by AI and not definite proof. You can check out the latest updates and announcements on the Turnitin Blog.
  • What are the implications of take-home testing? Is that still an option?

    Take-home testing allows for flexibility regarding time and location, as students can complete the exam at their own pace and in their preferred environment. This can reduce the stress associated with time-constrained exams and accommodate students with different learning needs. However, take-home testing poses challenges in ensuring academic integrity, as students may have access to external resources that could potentially facilitate cheating or plagiarism. Instructors must establish clear guidelines and expectations to mitigate these risks, such as specifying proper citation and referencing, setting appropriate time limits, and using plagiarism detection tools.
  • Do students need new skills to pass an oral exam? What if they’re anxious about public speaking?

    In the wake of this technology, there will need to be a renewed emphasis on the ability to speak clearly, persuasively, and elegantly because the human interactions that are the heart of education will become more important. Instructors will be enabled to return to the roots of university life as it was practiced for centuries - with teachers and students challenging each other in real-time to go deeper and ask for more. When considering oral exams, pay attention to accessibility and disability issues. Every student's learning needs must be considered to ensure equitable assessment conditions. Accommodations such as additional preparation time, use of assistive technologies, or alternative assessment methods may need necessary for students who require them. Students who are anxious about public speaking may benefit from techniques such as practice sessions and mindfulness exercises. The goal is to ensure that the assessment is not only about content knowledge but also communication and critical thinking skills.
  • How can instructors prevent plagiarism when using AI in education? Can you provide examples of assignments that use AI-generated material to foster critical and analytical thinking?

    Instructors can take several measures to prevent plagiarism, such as communicating expectations and academic integrity policies to students, using plagiarism detection tools to identify potential instances of plagiarism, designing assignments that require critical thinking and original work, providing opportunities for students to demonstrate their understanding in authentic ways, and fostering a culture of academic integrity through education and awareness. The Center for Teaching Excellence can help find ways to incorporate AI or get around it. The choice is ultimately yours to make. Please review the CTE resource on Artificial Intelligence Generative Tools for sample assignments that either engage or avoid AI generative tools.
  • Should we focus on adjusting teaching to help students learn how to use ChatGPT ethically and responsibly?

    As AI becomes more prevalent in various aspects of society, it is important for instructors to address the ethical and responsible use of AI tools in their teaching. This may involve discussing issues such as bias, privacy, plagiarism, and the limitations of AI with students. As an instructor, you will ultimately decide whether and how you incorporate AI into your teaching.
  • Is it ethical to upload students’ work to ChatGPT?

    ChatGPT collects any text you input and other types of user data, such as names, cell phone numbers, and emails. Uploading students' work to AI platforms like ChatGPT without their consent may raise ethical concerns. It is important to communicate with students about the use of their work and seek their informed consent. Consult relevant FERPA laws and consider contacting the Office of the General Council for more detailed guidance on student privacy.
  • Some students are tech-savvy, and some aren't. How can we ensure all students have the skills to use new technologies?

    To address equity and access issues, consider providing access to training and support for students who may need to become more familiar with new technologies, including AI tools. You can also encourage peer-to-peer support and collaboration among students.

Legal Questions

  • ChatGPT doesn’t recognize copyright material; is this a legal issue for the student who uses it to write (whether they are using it dishonestly or as part of instructions)?

    Using ChatGPT or any AI tool to generate content that includes copyright material without proper attribution or permission can raise legal concerns. It's important to educate students on proper citation practices, copyright laws, and academic integrity.

University Policy

  • Is it cheating when students use ChatGPT or AI tools to complete assignments?

    It is considered academic dishonesty when students use AI generative tools when not assigned. As written at this time, the university’s academic honesty policy includes using tools without proper citation, which covers AI tools.

Library Resources

  • Do the Libraries offer any resources for faculty and students?

    The University Libraries play an important role in teaching our students to evaluate their sources and locate reliable, accurate resources. The library provides research guides, subject guides, and useful resources. You can also reach out directly to your liaison librarian.
  • How can generative AI support research and digital scholarship?

    The emergence of AI has significantly transformed the landscape of library research, introducing complexities alongside innovative solutions. Generative AI research platforms can streamline your research workflow, enhancing both efficiency and effectiveness. Consider exploring tools such as Perplexity, Elicit, Consensus, Lateral, ScholarAI, Keenious, OpenAlex, Semantic Scholar, Research Rabbit, and Scite. To learn more, read Digital Scholar Bytes: Evaluating Generative AI Research Platforms or watch this workshop recording for a comprehensive overview.

Writing Center

  • How can the Writing Center support students and faculty?

    The Writing Center is committed to helping students develop as writers. The Writing Center does not provide an editing service; instead, they assist students in developing the skills they need to produce, develop, polish, and revise their work.  Students can book in-person or online consultations. The Writing Center also provides teaching ideas, advice, and writing support for instructors. The Center can help you to design writing prompts, create scaffolded assignments, develop rubrics for evaluating student writing, develop workshops for your students, etc. You can email to reach the Writing Center.

Accommodations and Modifications

  • How can I use AI tools to modify assignments and make accommodations for students?

    AI tools can be utilized to modify assignments and make accommodations for students with different learning needs. For example, AI tools can be used to provide text-to-speech or speech-to-text functionalities for students with visual or hearing impairments, assist non-native English speakers with language translation and writing support, or assist students with learning disabilities. AI tools can be integrated into the assignment instructions or provided as optional resources for students requiring accommodations. These practices align with Universal Design for Learning principles, aiming to make course materials accessible to as many students as possible. For additional questions and support, please contact the Office of Disability Support Services at


Askonas, J., & Litke, J. (2023). Artificial intelligence and catholic education. Unpublished manuscript. Department of Politics, The Catholic University of America.


We would like to express our gratitude to the following university offices for their invaluable contributions to this document: Disability Support Services, General Counsel, Honors Program, Libraries, Writing Center, Provost Office, and the CTE Faculty Fellows.