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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Training (and restraining) an AI writing coach

AI can help students improve their writing, if it's "restrained" from doing too much, say Carnegie Mellon English professors. Suguru Ishizaki and David Kaufer are piloting myScribe to help students turn thoughts into sentences, writes Jeffrey R. Young on EdSurge


The “Notes to Prose” tool "can take loose bullet points or stray thoughts typed by a student and turn them into sentences or draft paragraphs," writes Young.


“A bottleneck of writing is sentence generation — getting ideas into sentences,” Ishizaki says.


Novice writers start polishing their sentences when they should working on the quality of their thinking, says Kaufer.


At first, Chat GPT was adding new ideas and facts to the text, the professors say. Getting it to do less was a challenge. Now, their myScribe bot draws only "from the student's notes rather than a wider dataset."


Stacie Rohrbach, an associate design professor, saw "lots of AI-generated text" this year, she told Young. “And the ideas get lost. The sentences are framed correctly, but it ends up being gibberish.”

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mcra99
May 26

Had a parent who quipped that spelling really didn’t matter, especially in math and science. Afterall, she said, we have spell check.


I asked her what if the spell check guy were to suddenly die. She stared at me for a good 10 seconds.


I have many students who make no attempt to look up words either for the correct spellings or for their meanings. No consistency with capitalization or punctuation. It's all an after thought. I make other corrections with explanations, etc.; yet, many students ignore them and make the same mistakes over and over. When I ask if my corrections made sense, I get a shrug and a "That's how I write."


AI will make it worse.


I…

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m_t_anderson
May 26

Whatever happened to (1) write down what you know or want to say, (2) organize those into an outline, and (3) write the damn thing? Follow JJ's advice, read a lot, write a lot, and it ain't difficult.

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Heresolong
Heresolong
May 26

Ah, the miracle of AI. Curriculum Directors (CDs, which translates in my head into "people who don't know anything about your subject but think that all teaching is the same") like to say things like "Could you use AI to make that easier?". Case in point:


We have students, lots of them, without a solid grounding in basic mathematics. As we teach them Algebra, Geometry, and Algebra 2 we are forced to deal with students who can't figure out what half of 7 is. Fair enough, you teach the students you have, but I would also like to know what is being done at the lower levels to make sure that the problem is fixed. Meanwhile, the CD proposes t…


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mcra99
May 26
Replying to

"...we are forced to deal with students who can't figure out what half of 7 is. Fair enough, you teach the students you have, but I would also like to know what is being done at the lower levels to make sure that the problem is fixed."


Believe me, we are trying. Many students are poor listeners and can't remember from one day to the next. We practice doing just that - half of odd numbers. Everyone can do it by the end of the lesson. The next day, many can't replicate what they learned the day before. Worse, the same students, can't recognize that 8 is half of 16 or hesitate for five to seven seconds when tellin…


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