AI won’t replace writing instruction (opinion)

AI won’t replace writing instruction (opinion)

As a writing throughout the curriculum scholar and programmer, I’ve been speaking about synthetic intelligence writing instruments lots these days.
I’ve heard all of it, from the woes and worries of scholars utilizing ChatGPT to cheat their means by means of school to AI instruments being the brand new face of the longer term to enhance everybody’s writing and get rid of jobs. I’ve labored with college members who actively embrace AI and discover methods to include it into their pedagogy. I’ve additionally labored with those that fearfully ban it and revert to requiring college students to handwrite essays or current orally on matters.
And I’m right here to inform you, based mostly on a long time of writing research analysis paired with what we all know from studying principle, that AI is just not going to destroy or replace writing. We don’t have to—and shouldn’t—get rid of writing lessons or instruction due to AI (regardless of what you may need learn in Melissa Nicolas’s current opinion column calling for the elimination of the required first-year writing course).

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About me, to get my very own credentials out of the best way: I maintain three levels (B.A., M.A. and Ph.D.) in composition and rhetoric, having spent 10 years explicitly finding out writing. I’ve taught writing in any respect ranges, from first-year writing to superior writing to graduate-level writing programs, and have taught a variety of genres. I work because the assistant director of Writing Across the Curriculum at Miami University’s Howe Center for Writing Excellence, the place we’ve taken a number one position on offering college growth and assist for writing and AI.
More vital than my very own credentials are the core theories and rules of writing and studying to jot down. Our middle makes use of guiding rules that may (and will) apply to any studying context. Some of those rules are:
Writing is social and rhetorical—writers profit from speaking and sharing drafts with different writers.Writing is knowledgeable by prior expertise, together with expertise with writing, studying and cultural experiences and norms.Writing is just not pure; slightly, it’s one thing all of us work to be taught. Being a reliable author is one thing that may be developed throughout time and with observe.Reflection and metacognition are vital components of bettering as a author.

With these rules in thoughts, that are based mostly on intensive work from many writing students (see Naming What We Know, edited by Linda Adler-Kassner and Elizabeth Wardle, for extra), we will thus take into consideration AI and writing within the following methods:
Students/writers nonetheless want to speak to others about writing.Students/writers carry with them invaluable (and located) prior information that AI era can’t replicate.Students/writers have to observe, and writing is realized over time.Students/writers have to mirror on their writing, because the product isn’t the one vital side.
That is, writing is just not (solely) in regards to the ultimate product. By definition, the ultimate product is what generative AI instruments like ChatGPT produce.
In her column, Nicolas writes, “AI can generate genre-specific textual content, approximate discipline-specific prose and create content material that is freed from grammatical errors.” Noting that these are the talents college outdoors writing packages usually need college students to be taught in first-year writing, she concludes that college students due to this fact “don’t want a required first-year writing course anymore” and asserts that “AI will deal with college students’ greatest writing issues so professors can spend all their time on disciplinary content material.”
The problem, nonetheless, is that AI instruments can not “do” or “produce” all the pieces that college students ought to be working towards in such a course, or in different disciplinary-based writing instruction.

For instance: take a few of the course outcomes for my very own writing course this semester (technical writing), the place college students will:
Compose moral and rhetorically efficient visuals for technical communication;Develop teamwork methods and intercultural communication competencies; andReflect on composing processes and on the rhetorical and moral choices made within the researching, drafting, and supply of technical communication.
How can ChatGPT assist college students mirror meaningfully on their composing processes and why they made the selections that they did? Again, these outcomes usually are not even in regards to the ultimate product {that a} instrument like ChatGPT can create. These outcomes are about college students’ studying and significant pondering, about reflecting on their progress as writers, and about being moral—together with of their utilization of AI instruments. Writing is a solution to categorical and file that studying, nevertheless it’s the pondering and the progress that occur all through that’s the principle level.
As talked about, Nicolas additionally argues, “AI will deal with college students’ greatest writing issues so professors can spend all their time on disciplinary content material.” From a Writing Across the Curriculum perspective, that is inherently incorrect, as writing can’t be separated from disciplinary content material.
That is: writing is pondering and studying, together with in disciplinary programs. Learning the way to write is disciplinary content material. The methods my colleagues in accounting write usually are not ways in which I as a writing trainer can assist my college students discover ways to write, and writing thus must be taught in context and in live performance with stated disciplinary content material.
There are different explanation why a required first-year writing course is perhaps regarding and why it might be value asking whether or not or not it ought to exist. There are a long time of analysis to assist and complicate debate on this query, comparable to Elizabeth Wardle’s piece on “mutt genres,” which explores how college students don’t truly write the genres in a first-year composition class that they’re meant to jot down of their precise disciplines. And there are very actual problems with labor and experience when it comes to who’s educating these programs (and if their experience is greatest matched with the course).
But the purpose I wish to make right here is that claiming that AI can “do all of it” is just not an efficient argument for eliminating a required first-year writing course (or any writing instruction). It is just not one that’s even sound or true, based mostly on what we learn about how writing and studying work and what must occur to make efficient, moral writers (see How Learning Works by Susan A. Ambrose et al. for extra on studying).
AI instruments have their makes use of, in addition to their limitations and moral issues (like mental property and environmental affect and the human labor to coach these packages). What we do know after we carry the dialog again to studying is that we as educators—in composition and rhetoric research and in different disciplines—need college students to point out us what they will do.
Let’s not fearmonger or focus too narrowly on how AI can replace writing and instruction in our fields. Let’s as an alternative double down on what we wish college students to do and the way we can assist them get there—with or with out these instruments, as we see match, and as we act from our rules round studying.

Mandy Olejnik is the assistant director of Writing Across the Curriculum at Miami University’s Howe Center for Writing Excellence.

https://www.insidehighered.com/opinion/views/2023/12/08/ai-wont-replace-writing-instruction-opinion

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