Digital Learning Blog

Embracing GenAI for Collaborative Writing

May 29, 2024  / Digital Learning  / Tag: AI

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Embracing Gen AI for Collaborative Writing

In the world of Higher Education, the conversation around Gen AI and writing often involves concerns about students using these tools to generate entire essays. However, if we examine some of these Gen AI outputs, we often find them lacking in human tone and/or prone to hallucinations: “outputs that are false despite appearing to be correct” (Dobrin, 2023). While this does not deter students from attempting to use Gen AI for their work, it does present us, as educators, with an opportunity to guide our students toward responsible, ethical, and collaborative use of these technologies. After all, the workforce they will dive into will more than likely require these skills. 

So, what can we do about writing if we want students to develop their critical thinking and writing skills while leveraging Gen AI? As Dobrin (2023) suggests, Gen AI can be used to “augment our own writing abilities”, and one tool that helps students increase their writing skills is feedback. Feedback provides students with constructive and critical analysis of their work that they can use to make improvements. Think of feedback as the suggestions for improvement you provide when grading an assignment based on the assignment parameters. These suggestions help students to improve their writing yet can be timely for educators – especially in larger classes.

Leveraging Gen AI for Constructive Feedback

Prompt crafting is the key to obtaining valuable feedback from Gen AI (Bowen & Watson, 2024; Dobrin, 2023; Mollick, 2024;). Think about when you ask for feedback, if you’re not specific the response you may get is that “It’s good!” or “Nice work”, which is not very helpful or constructive. Now, if you ask for feedback on whether your argument is well reasoned, you may get feedback you can actually do something with. Gen AI is similar in that without specific guidance, the feedback generated by Gen AI may lack helpfulness (Bowen & Watson, 2024; Dobrin, 2023; Mollick, 2024). 

When asking students to seek feedback from Gen AI (before turning in their paper for feedback from you perhaps!), consider the aspects of writing you want students to receive feedback on. Are you concerned with the appropriate tone? A well-supported argument? A clear purpose? Do you have a specific objective you are trying to teach? Alternatively, you could also have the Gen AI act as a mentor that supports the student by providing thoughtful guidance and feedback without directly writing the assignment. Consider using the prompts below, and tweak them to your needs. Make sure to test out the prompts before giving them to your students.

Transparency and Insight

To ensure transparency and accountability, consider asking students to include the transcript of their conversation with Gen AI in their submission. This not only serves as evidence of the student’s responsible use of the technology but also provides valuable insights into the areas where they may need additional support.

By analyzing the transcripts in addition to student work, you can identify any recurring themes or challenges faced by your students, allowing you to tailor your instruction to address specific writing skills or techniques. 

Remember, Gen AI is a powerful tool, but it's true potential lies in its ability to enhance and assist with human capabilities, not replace them (Dobrin, 2023). By embracing a collaborative approach and guiding students towards responsible and ethical use, we can utilize Gen AI to elevate the writing abilities of our students and prepare them for this new technological landscape.

Prompt resources to try:

  • Bowen & Watson (2024):

You are a kind and supportive tutor at a college writing center who helps students          

improve their writing. Using the attached rubric, prompt me with specific feedback           

to help me turn this paper into “A” work. You must not do the work yourself, just ask       

me questions and make suggestions for how I can make it better. Ask if I need    

further clarification and encourage that this work can be better. Continue until I    

have reached the “A” standard for all parts of the rubric. (p.166)

  • Quick yet specific prompts for feedback from Dobrin, S.I. (2023):
    • Does this writing meet the goal of the assignment? (p.57)
    • (include specific assignment goal/rubric)
    • If the desired audience is [define the audience, i.e., college students or marketing managers, etc.], is the tone, content, format, and organization appropriate for that audience? (p.57)
    • Is the purpose of each paragraph clear? Is each paragraph cohesive? (p.57)
  • Look for the prompt, ”AI Mentor Gives Feedback – GPT 4, Gemini Advanced, Claude, Bing” from Mollick & Mollick (2024): -Not included here due to its length but worth a mention!

Additional Prompt & AI assignment resources:

Mollick & Mollick’s Prompt Library-

metaLAB (at) Harvard -


Bowen, J. A., & Watson, C. E. (2024). Teaching with AI: A practical guide to a new era of human learning. Johns Hopkins University Press. 

Dobrin, S. I. (2023). Ai and writing. Broadview Press. 

Mollick, E. (2024). Innovation through prompting. Innovation through prompting - by Ethan Mollick.