Student panel at 2024 Symposium on Teaching and Learning

The student panel at the 2024 Symposium on Teaching and Learning included, from left, Sarah Yancey ’26, Verona Collins ’26, Niija Douglas ’25, Collette Kissell ’25 and Sarah Joseph ’25.

CITL Symposium Delves into Generative AI as Teaching and Learning Tool

The two-day event marks its 15th year with a student panel and 20 faculty presentations.

Story by

Stephen Gross

Photography by

Kathy Frederick

As a first-year student, Verona Collins ’26 remembers hearing her classmates say,” Oh my God, this thing can do all your work for you,” as generative artificial intelligence tools such as ChatGPT were introduced online.

But the more Collins used generative AI, she said she realized its limitations and began to learn that it can’t do everything humans can.

“I think the reality right now is a lot of people just use it just to copy and paste assignments or don't use it at all,” Collins, an English major, said. “But either way, they just don't know enough about the tool because they're not actively using it to help them and [they’re not] constructively looking at AI and how to use it as a tool.”

Collins was one of five members of a student panel titled “The Implications of Generative AI for Teaching and Learning at Lehigh,” moderated by Sarah Yancey ’26, a biology major, during the 2024 Symposium on Teaching and Learning held on April 9 and 10 on the sixth floor of Fairchild-Martindale Library. In addition to the student panel, the symposium included 20 faculty presentations, held in person with displays of student works on Tuesday and over Zoom on Wednesday.

The annual two-day event, hosted by Lehigh’s Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning (CITL), showcases how Lehigh instructors engage and challenge students, technology supports pedagogy, and faculty and students partner to deepen learning. This year’s symposium focused on the work of CITL Faculty Fellows, specifically in the areas of generative AI, AR (augmented reality)/VR (virtual reality) and immersive learning, inquiry-based learning, cross disciplinary teaching and teaching in flexible learning environments.

Student work on display

Student work was on display on the sixth floor of Fairchild-Martindale Library during the 2024 Symposium on Teaching and Learning.

“This is the 15th year of the Symposium on Teaching and Learning at Lehigh and each year I am delighted by the quality of the presentations and impressed by the palpable sense of generosity, warmth and collaboration felt throughout the event,” Greg Reihman, vice provost for Library and Technology Services,” said. “Presenters shared innovations they brought to Lehigh classrooms, graciously acknowledged the partnerships that helped make those innovations possible and offered advice to participants. Events like this help showcase the faculty, staff and students who are creating remarkable learning experiences that help prepare our students for their futures.”

He encouraged those who were unable to attend to check out the resources on the CITL website to learn from colleagues and discover opportunities for collaboration.

In years past, Peggy Kane, director of the Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning, said they’ve had eight to 10 faculty fellows, but this year they have partnered with 32.

“While not all 32 presented at the symposium,” Kane said, “we had a great cross-section of work from all five colleges and disciplines ranging from theatre to law and virology to technical entrepreneurship.”

As central as faculty is to the symposium, Kane said the CITL believed it was important to include students as well.

“It was clear to us as we started to prepare for the symposium that it was important to include student work and student voices in the event to fully represent the impact of the collaborations with faculty on learning,” Kane said. “To that end, we created an exhibit area adjacent to the presentation space for displays of both physical and digital projects created by students, several faculty co-presented with students, and [there was the] student panel discussion.”

Tuesday afternoon’s student panel, which lasted approximately 45 minutes and consisted of all TRAC Fellows working on self-design projects, covered how each of the students have seen generative AI used so far and their thoughts on how it should be used at Lehigh.

“I love ChatGPT,” Niija Douglas ’25, a computer science engineering major, said.

Douglas explained she mostly uses generative AI to clear up confusion surrounding instructions from a professor, rather than email the professor and have to wait for a response, or to summarize readings for her English class and then use the summaries to go back and dissect the parts she needs to focus on. Also an economics minor, Douglas said she hasn’t used it for her economics classes.

Attendees at the 2024 Symposium on Teaching and Learning

Attendees of the 2024 Symposium on Teaching and Learning mingle while viewing student work on the sixth floor of Fairchild-Martindale Library.

“You can't really put a payoff matrix into ChatGPT and have it tell you what the best strategy is. That's something that you kind of need to know,” Douglas said.

Yancey also asked the panel if there has been communication among professors and students on the first day of class regarding the use of AI for the semester. Both Douglas and Verona Collins ’26, an English major, said it had only been explicitly addressed in one of their classes, while many just referred to Lehigh’s AI policy on the syllabus.

Collins said she believes as students begin to take higher level courses, it’s tougher to use generative AI because it doesn’t analyze readings the same way a human would.

“I think it becomes a lot more obvious when people use ChatGPT in those higher level English or writing classes … because ChatGPT essentially says a lot without really saying anything,” Collins said.

English major Sarah Joseph ’25 said, however, that it can help outline a long paper.

“I know in the higher level English classes I have a lot of final papers that are 15 to 20 pages,” she said, “and using ChatGPT as a tool to organize my thoughts, as opposed to generating new thoughts, can be really helpful.”

Douglas suggested the first step for students in incorporating the use of ChatGPT with everyday assignments is learning how generative AI works because she estimated that nine out of 10 students probably wouldn’t be able to explain how it works, just that it provides what they’re looking for. She said that even as a computer science major, she would have trouble fully explaining how a tool such as ChatGPT works.

Before allowing questions from the audience, Yancey posed her final question to the panel, asking what AI resources and opportunities they would like to see implemented at Lehigh.

Collins’ idea was a workshop for first-year students, possibly as part of 5x10, in which they are given a prompt, such as writing a poem, and they complete it themselves and then ask ChatGPT to complete the same assignment. Once finished, they would compare the two and be asked about the similarities and differences.

“That way they could know and compare the strengths and limitations of AI so they could better understand why it's not helpful just to copy and paste it and why it's more helpful to do things like outlining,” Collins said.

Dennis Lam '23 wearing VR headset

Dennis Lam ’25 uses a virtual reality headset at the 2024 Symposium on Teaching and Learning.

Joseph said she thinks students will have a better understanding of generative AI if they read about the process co-authors took in publishing books that have been fully or partially written by AI. She cited an example from one of her classes where she said she read a book that was 60% written by AI and 40% by the co-author. At the end of the book there was a Q&A with the co-author describing the process and how specific his prompts needed to be for AI to generate what he wanted.

Douglas and Collette Kissell ’25, a political science major, both discussed the need for communication about generative AI among professors and students as the tools continue to evolve and become more a part of the classroom.

“It's not going away,” Kissel said. “I don't even know if there is a solution. But I would say that it requires open discourse…. It's not any one person's responsibility to handle AI, to find a solution to AI. It’s a collective effort from everyone involved.”

In another presentation, Haiyan Jia, assistant professor in the Department of Journalism and Communication, discussed one of the classes she is teaching, “Imagining a Future of AI and Us: Conceptual and Experiential Learning with AI. Joined by Carl Freyer ’25, she shared her collaboration goals in writing her proposal for the CITL Fellowship, which included a student-centric approach and a technology-integral focus. She also wanted the class to talk about “deeply human topics and societal issues.”

As part of the class, Jia had her students access ChatGPT and use it in mini projects that touched numerous topics, including ethics and creativity. One of the projects, in which they tested AI for its creative potential, was demonstrated by Freyer.

“A lot of the time in class when we were talking about AI and creativity, we always came back to the fact that humans were giving the AI the idea,” Freyer said.

He said he was able to demonstrate that was false, however, through a conversation he had with ChatGPT. He displayed the conversation, in which he directed ChatGPT to come up with images. ChatGPT showed it was developing its own ideas by following trends, much like humans, to generate the images.

“It's hard to just take away the label of creativity just because it's a machine,” Freyer said.

Jia said the class was a great learning experience.

“I love the fact that I was able to collaborate with CITL, but I also love the fact that I was able to learn about this together with my students,” Jia said. “We took such a humanistic and social scientific approach to address this technical situation that we're in and the conversation that we had as a class definitely was very enriching.”

The symposium wrapped up Wednesday morning with a faculty presentation from Michael O’Neill, language specialist in Lehigh’s International Center for Academic and Professional English, titled, “Using Microvideos to Introduce Your Course & Enhance Student Learning.”

O’Neill explained what microvideos are — a video on a single topic no longer than five minutes in length — why they can be a useful tool and showed how to use Panopto, a video recording platform, to create microvideos. He also demonstrated how he used Panopto in conjunction with Course Site.

O’Neill, with help from CITL, embedded quizzes in microvideos using Panopto, which also tracked who among his students had watched the video.

O’Neill shared an example of a microvideo he used for ENGL 003, Composition and Literature I for Multilingual Writers last fall. He also shared the reality of making microvideos, including the amount of time it takes to make them.

Read more stories on the Lehigh News Center.

Story by

Stephen Gross

Photography by

Kathy Frederick

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