Generative AI and Assessment

In our previous post about GenAI, we explored a range of approaches for integrating GenAI into course design. In this post, our focus shifts towards strategies that harness GenAI to either design assessments or adjust existing ones.

Assessments serve a dual purpose: they provide us with insights into students’ acquired knowledge and skills, and they serve as tools to guide students in their exploration of information, skill development, and knowledge expansion.

Whether we are asking our students to write an essay, create a video, complete a case study, develop some code, or create a visual representation of a concept, we often strive to achieve certain common learning goals. These learning goals will vary based on who your students are and where they are in their learning journey. Students will also experience various assessment methods across the courses they are taking. Having a clear idea about how GenAI can fit into your assessment strategy will make it easier for you to communicate your expectations to your students.

We have compiled a list of common assessment goals and provided examples of how GenAI may be used to meet these goals. This is not intended to be an exhaustive list or a prescriptive one. It is meant to serve as a starting point for thinking about how GenAI can be used as part of an assessment strategy, if at all.

Goal: Analyzing and Critiquing Content

Why is this important?

Analyzing and critiquing content is an essential skill for students across various educational levels and fields of study. It provides students with the opportunity to hone their research skills, develop digital and media literacy skills and deepen their cultural and societal awareness. Having students critique a website, research paper or image are some ways that we can have students practice this skill. GenAI tools offer additional ways to generate content that can be critiqued in the same way.

How Instructors Can Use GenAI

  • Generate GenAI outputs of equations, code and chemical formulas and have students analyze them for accuracy. Additionally, you have students refine the GenAI content and ask them to submit both the results and the prompts they used to refine them.
  • Generate visual GenAI outputs for students to critique based on the quality and accuracy of the artistic form or any other criteria you wish them to explore.
  • Visual GenAI outputs can also be an effective way to explore AI bias and how that bias is generated and regenerated using GenAI tools. This could be used across disciplines and function as the basis for a class discussion, essay, presentation, or other form of assignment.

How Students Might Use GenAI

  • Students might use GenAI to generate information related to a topic they are researching. For example, GenAI prompts can be used to produce counter arguments, expand ideas, question personal assumptions, and evaluate sources. You may find it useful to talk to your students about the pros and cons of GenAI tools if you think they plan to use them this way.

Goal: Forming a thesis, argument, or research question 

Why is this important?

Learning how to form a good thesis statement, argument or research question is a crucial skill in many disciplines. It is often assigned as part of a written work, but also serves a wider purpose. It helps students clarify and organize their ideas, practice critical thinking skills, and develop the ability to construct and support compelling arguments. If this is a skill you teach, you probably already use several activities that allow students to practice these skills and get feedback. For example, you may have students differentiate between a strong and a weak thesis statement. GenAI offers ways to design similar tasks in new ways.

How Instructors Can Use GenAI

  • Provide some sample theses, arguments or research questions and have students refine them using GenAI. Students can share both the final product and the prompts they used to generate it. This can be used to assess both their understanding of what makes a good thesis statement and their understanding of the topic they are researching.
  • Use GenAI to generate theses, arguments or research questions and have students analyze them based on the criteria you provide. You could also have students use GenAI to improve the statements based on the criteria you have provided. Students can share both the final product and the prompts they used to generate it.

How Students Might Use GenAI

  • Students might use GenAI as a starting point to help them generate ideas, topics, and questions. For example, GenAI could help students move from broad ideas to more specific questions that they then refine and address according to disciplinary and class context.
  • Students might use GenAI to generate examples of theses, arguments or research questions related to a specific discipline. Students can use these examples to help them formulate and develop their own work.

Goal: Learning New Concepts

Why is this important?

Courses are made up of concepts and topics that fit together to make a cohesive learning experience. Some concepts are more complex than others and, at any given time, understanding of these concepts will vary from student to student. Summative assessments can be used to gauge where students are on their learning paths. It is also helpful for students to have more than one way to explore the new concepts they are learning. You may use concept maps, additional readings, or low stakes quizzes to do this work right now. Here are some ideas of how you can use GenAI to achieve the same goals.

How Instructors Can Use GenAI

  • Encourage students to use GenAI to explore new topics as they are presented in class. As class or individual activity, you can ask students to share the prompts they used as well as the GenAI outputs. This can provide valuable insight into what the student has learned about the topic. It could also reveal useful information about how individual students learn.

How Students Might Use GenAI

  • Students might use GenAI as a study tool to get an overview of a topic along with some of the key terms. They can then check this content against other sources such as the course textbook and analyze the accuracy of the GenAI created content.
  • Students might use GenAI as a study tool to have a concept explained to them in diverse ways. They can then check this explanation against others to make connections and get a deeper understanding of the concept.

Goal: Develop Writing Skills

Why is this important?

Writing skills are important for a wide range of academic, personal, and professional reasons. They are not only a fundamental aspect of effective communication but also a key tool for expressing thoughts and conveying information. Critical thinking, problem solving, content proficiency, and language proficiency are all things that we can assess using traditional written assignments. Here are some ways to think about how these skills can be practiced and assessed with the use of GenAI tools.

How Instructors Can Use GenAI

Use GenAI tools to quickly generate several writing samples for students to critique based on the writing skills you want to assess. Some ideas for elements to critique include

  • appropriateness of tone
  • sentence structure
  • accuracy of content
  • inherent bias
  • substance of the content
  • strengths and weaknesses of the content created.
  • style and accuracy of citation

How Students Might Use Gen AI

  • Students might use GenAI to identify errors in their writing style, grammar, and spelling. It can also be used to provide feedback on essays or papers. It is likely that many students will be using GenAI tools in this way, so you may find it useful to talk to your students about how these tools work and their fallibility.


If you are planning to integrate GenAI tools into your assessment strategy, remember that for reasons of privacy and security, students cannot be required to register for tools that fall outside the VIU suite of software. While many students may have already signed up for tools like ChatGPT or will not mind doing so, you may have students in your classroom who do not want to create an account. In this situation, you will need to find alternate ways for those students to meaningfully engage in the assessments in the course.


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