Designing assessments to mitigate the use of AI writing tools

As with all assessment design, revisions based on the availability of AI tools, it’s important to align the assessment with your learning objectives: what is the assessment activity measuring, and does this fit with the learning outcomes for the course?  

Below are a few strategies based on faculty experiences and current research, to address the use of AI in assessments and assignments including approaches for mitigating AI use. These strategies aim to promote fair, authentic, and inclusive assessment practices, in which students’ knowledge and skills can be accurately assessed. 

Some instructors may wish to design assessments that can help mitigate use of generative AI, to promote fairness and help ensure assessments reflect students’ own knowledge and skills. Some assessment strategies that are designed to promote academic integrity more broadly may also be effective for helping to reduce students’ ability to use generative AI on assignments. 

A strategy that could be explored to address the issue of students using AI is by creating more personalized, contextualized, or authentic assessments. For example, students could be asked to discuss their own individual experiences or views on course topics, or to provide a specifically disciplinary or course-informed response to real or fictional case studies. You could also design assessments that connect to specific points discussed in class, on discussion boards, and the like, or to other courses students may have taken before. 

classroom with chemistry written on the board

Another approach to mitigating the use of generative AI in assignment and assessment design is to incorporate in-class or otherwise synchronous assignments, either written or oral, or change your current grade weighting to emphasize these (Weissman 2023). For example, in-class essays could work in larger classes, and in a small class one might meet with students to discuss course readings and/or drafts of essays in progress by students. Social annotation (via tools such as can also offer opportunities to have students engage with course content and one another in the online classroom. 


Roberto Nickel used in CLAS 1P95 Myths of the Greek and Roman Gods to replace 25 seminars in his large 500 person first year class. Read the case study for more information.

Martin Danahay used in his third year Victorian Anthology course to teach textual analysis. Read the case study for more information.

While completing all assignments in class may not be feasible, integrating specific parts of assignments into classroom activity can help you monitor student work more closely and reduce the use of generative AI tools. For instance, you can have students reflect on the development of an assignment or work collaboratively in groups to solve specific problems related to their assignments. 

By incorporating these elements into classroom activities, you can ensure that students are developing their critical thinking and writing skills while promoting academic integrity. This approach may also allow you to offer a submit, revise, resubmit cycle during which feedback is provided for students as they are developing their work, fostering a more engaging and collaborative learning environment. 

Building on the submit, revise, resubmit cycle with opportunities for feedback and connection, assessments could scaffold towards higher level learning objectives. Assignments could build upon each other providing guidance towards a final culminating project. This provides the instructor (or TA) the opportunity to monitor progress and facilitate making learning visible.


Read about Maureen Connolly’s culminating assignment design for her fourth-year course on Adaptive Physical Activity Programming

Brock University was the first in Canada to have its twenty experiential education definitions confirmed in Senate.  

Because of the dynamic and complex nature of experiential education each student’s learning experience is unique, emerging as their experience unfolds. For these reasons, assessments related to experiential learning are often iterative and reflective in nature asking students to draw upon connections between their experience and course content. You can explore more information on the role of reflection in Brock’s Experiential Education Handbook. Such assessments based on experience, reflection, and connection can act as a mitigant to the use of generative AI. 

Learn more about the pedagogy and course design of Experiential Education. 


Pauli Gardner used Video Reflections to document experiential components of HLSC 3P96 – Developing Healthy Communities

The term “disposable assignment” is often used to describe an assignment that a student completes and is seen by only the instructor/TA during the grading process. Often students hate completing them and faculty hate grading them. 

Creating assignments that provide value to students and the broader community beyond the confines of the classroom are often foundational in open pedagogy. Instead of throwing away an assignment after it has been graded, what if the assignment actually showcased student learning and brought value to the world? 

Some examples include the incorporation of Wikipedia editing or collaborative textbook creation 

Open Pedagogy Examples 

Browse the Open Pedagogy Notebook for a rich resource of other examples 

Universal Design for Learning Action and Expression means providing choice in what students learn and what they know do and value

Currently, most AI tools that generate text work through textual inputs, though some are developing the capacity to generate texts from images. For example, GPT-4 from OpenAI has the capacity to generate text based on images, though this functionality has not yet been released publicly. One strategy to mitigate their use, at least for now, could be to ask students to respond to non-textual resources, such as images, diagrams, or videos. 

On the other hand, you could also design assessments that allow students to express their learning using methods other than writing. For example, depending on the course learning goals students could be asked to create a mind map, a timeline, an infographic, a video, etc. (Note that the landscape is changing quickly, though, and some of these artifacts may be able to be produced by AI tools very soon, if not already.) Students could also be asked to do presentations in class with Q&A, whether individually or in groups. Though they might use an AI text generator to develop part of what they present, they will still need to understand the material enough to effectively present it and answer questions from other students. 

Using different assignment modes can help to support inclusive learning environments. Offering students a choice among modes can be helpful for supporting diverse learners, and adheres to Universal Design for Learning guidelines by providing multiple means for students to express their learning. This can also address the issue that such assessments, and platforms used for them, may not be equally accessible to all students. 


Julie Stevens used Podcast debates in her large 4th year SPMA course.

Maureen Connolly uses Board Games in many of her KINE courses.

Jocelyn Murtell used Mind Maps in a large first year RECL course.

Many instructors may be considering reverting to seated written midterm and final exams.
Consider scaffolding higher order critical thinking questions. Consider having students reference learning that happened in class, drawing upon applications of theory and reflections that connect to personal experience. Even multiple choice questions can be constructed to assess more in depth knowledge beyond rote memorization.
Contact CPI if you would like support in designing your exam.

The avalanche of Generated AI tools has a few instructors considering re-introducing  “old school” methods like surprise oral exams or handwritten exams with limited time frames. If you find yourself down this path, please remember the importance of accessibility and trauma-informed practices.

Humanizing learning is more important than ever. Talk to your students. Listen to what they have to say. Share why your course is relevant and explain the rationale for your assessment design. Take the opportunity to seek early to mid-term formative feedback so you can adjust your course as it progresses.

Reach out to CPI to discuss your course design at any time.

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Applying Blooms Taxonomy to alternative online assessment. Pressbooks.

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Demonstrating knowledge: Designing assessments that cultivate integrity. Academic Integrity at UBC. (2022, September 9).

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Greek and Roman Myths case study. Pressbooks.

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Instructor perspective: After week 8, consolidate! Pressbooks.

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Smith, D. A. (2023). It’s Time to Recognize Wikipedia as a Health Information Resource. Journal of Consumer Health on the Internet, 27(2), 210–220.

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Suggestions for assignment and assessment design – UBC Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology. (2023, August 7). UBC Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology.

Teaching textual analysis using Pressbooks.

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Weissman, J. (2023). ChatGPT is a plague upon education (opinion). Inside Higher Ed | Higher Education News, Events and Jobs.

White, D. (2019, December 12). Assignment | Open Pedagogy Notebook.

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