AI Prompting and Thinking
This module explores the links between AI prompting and thinking. It focuses in particular on learning to compose prompts that rely on and further your own thinking. It also gives you opportunities to practice and develop your own strategies for AI prompting. You can access the text and key pieces of the module below. You can also use a Canvas module to be imported into course sites.
After completing the module you should
- Understand the differences between human and machine intelligence
- Understand the role of prompting in developing thinking
- Learn to engage in a healthy process of AI prompting
- Practice AI prompting strategies
- Reflect on the ways AI can further research and thinking
Intelligence: the ability to understand concepts and to process information; intelligence can also include the ability to move between short- and long-term thinking, intuition, flexibility, and social and emotional ways of knowing and interacting.
Prompting: the process of querying AI chatbots for information; prompting benefits from direct instruction that provides useful context.
Iteration: ongoing processes; for AI, the process of prompting, evaluating, and reprompting should play out through an iterative approach.
FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions; this genre works well at capturing key aspects of knowledge and making them available for others.
We will begin with a reading and a quiz. As you read, think about the examples discussed and how they relate to the kinds of intellectual work you typically engage in. The module also contains a video with guidance on using prompting to think through topics. There is an exercise asking you to practice and reflect on your own prompting. And there is an opportunity for you to develop your own strategies for prompting, and then share them as an FAQ. Select the Next arrow below to get started.
Reading and Quiz
In this activity, we will explore the concerns associated with AI taking over thinking.
Begin by reading the article at this link:
After you have read the piece, complete the quiz below.
In the example using chess tournaments, the authors point out that the most successful playing configurations were:
humans playing chess
computers playing chess
humans using computers playing chess (correct answer)
The authors characterize the kinds of thinking that humans do as:
authentic intelligence (correct answer)
The authors suggest that humans differ from machines because humans are:
All of the above (correct answer)
For this activity, you will watch a video, and then complete an exercise. Begin by watching the video below:
After you have watched the video, compete this exercise. After you complete the exercise, you can submit your work below.
- Choose a research topic. As you choose, look for an option that will allow you to learn more about both the methods needed to conduct the research and about the topic itself. In the video example, the user looks for guidance about how to conduct research on Instagram and about the topic of writing on Instagram. Look for a similar combination: e.g., literary analysis and haiku, interview research and local transit, polymer modeling and three-d printing, etc.
- Look for guidance using AI. Open an AI chatbot (e.g., ChatGPT, Bing, Claude, etc), and enter a simple prompt asking for help with your research. Read over the output. Enter more specific prompts that tell the AI more about your research needs, the level of expertise required for the project, the audience for the project, and other contextual information. Experiment as well with breaking up and combining your requests–asking for details on research methods and the topic separately. Be persistent and creative.
- Capture the results of your chat session. You can either copy the link to the session or download the transcript.
- Reflect on the experience. Respond to this assignment by posting a brief reflection with three components:
- Reflect on your prompting process. What strategies did you employ? What worked well? What were some of the shortcomings?
- Reflect on your thinking. How did the AI influence your thinking? What background knowledge did you bring to the project? What might you say to someone who was concerned about AI replacing human’s abilities to think?
- Add your transcript. Paste into your reflection either the link to or the transcript of your chat session.
Submit the assignment using the options established by your instructor.
Reflect and Share
This activity will prompt you to reflect on and share your experiences with AI prompting and thinking. Complete the following steps:
- Search online for tip sheets, videos, or other guidance related to AI prompting. Look for strategies that are not covered in this module. Also look for ways that advice may have evolved as AI has become more refined. Take notes and develop a list of five or more tips or strategies for prompting AI.
- Go to an AI Chatbot (e.g., ChatGPT, Bing, Claude, etc.) and prompt the AI to help develop a similar list of prompting strategies. Use your own list and background knowledge to refine the output. Between your own knowledge and the AI output, develop a list of five or more prompting strategies.
- Expand with examples. Ask the chatbot and use your own knowledge to expand the list with examples that illustrate the prompting strategies.
- Connect with thinking. Check to see whether the examples list any aspects of thinking related to prompting. If not, rework the prompts and use your own knowledge to add information related to thinking for each item.
- Create an FAQ. When satisfied, ask the AI to format the list and examples into an FAQ with five of more items. You FAQ should 1) be useful for college students getting started with AI prompting and 2) speak to the ways that prompting can be related to thinking.
To complete this module, submit your FAQ using the options established by your instructor