Thinking about the AI

AI Impacts on Teaching and Scholarship

Blog posts about artificial intelligence are everywhere you look. To help you make sense of all the noise, we are writing another one :). This one will focus on you, University of Richmond faculty, who are curious how artificial intelligence will impact your teaching and scholarship. We’ll be focused exclusively on language artificial intelligence, if you are interested in other kinds of AI feel free to reach out to our technology consultant Andrew Bell to chat!

Large language models (LLMs) are AI systems that are trained to generate human-like language. They are trained using massive datasets of text (imagine being able to read 9 million word books once a day for an entire lifetime / 80 years, that’s how much text these models are trained on). They learn to recognize and generate words and phrases in the same way that humans do. This allows them to understand generate new content based on specific inputs or prompts. 

These LLMs are applied in a number of different applications and services. The one that you might have heard about is chatGPT but there are countless others like (specifically for helping the writing process) or (a service for helping read dense academic papers). For this blog post we’ll focus primarily on chatGPT. chatGPT, created by openAI, is a conversational chatbot that is sensationally good a generating human-like text. This has raised concerns within the education domain about academic integrity and whether writing is something our students will offload to artificial intelligence. 

Faculty Hub Recommendation #1: Develop a policy for AI use in your course and communicate it to your students

Article IV of the University of Richmond’s Honor code requires student’s pledge that they “have neither received nor given unauthorized assistance during the completion of [their] work”. Artificially intelligence generated text certainly could be considered unauthorized assistance but our recommendation is to determine a specific policy for AI generated text and then communicate that policy with your students. Whether it is a specific syllabi policy or a conversation in class, we recommend articulating a specific vision  for what your expectations are. 

  • Sample AI Policy Statements from Faculty Hub (link)
  • Ethan Mollick of Wharton Business School policy (link)


Faculty Hub Recommendation #2: Gain a better understanding of what LLMs can and can’t do for your discipline

Because these models are only as good as the text they are trained on, the impacts are dependent on what discipline you teach / research in. For instance, most court proceedings and scholarship is freely available and therefore likely part of the corpus that models like GPT-3 (backbone on chatGPT) are trained on. That’s in contrast to some humanities disciplines like modern literature whose primary literature and scholarship are copywrited and/or behind paywalls. This will primarily impact how ‘knowledge’ the models are (whether or not the resulting text is actually rooted an any sort of truth or just BS). We encourage you to investigate the abilities of chatGPT or if you aren’t interested in creating an account, schedule a consultation with the Faculty Hub and we can facilitate that investigate with you. 

Faculty Hub Recommendation #3: Identify processes / tasks that might benefit from AI assistance 

It is important to note that we are just at the beginning to understand the utility of these LLMs. There is still a lot of uncertainty about the impact they have. We have identified a few ways chatGPT can improve various processes that are a part of faculty workflows. Below are a few ideas but we encourage you to reach out to use to learn more about how it might impact your specific workflows:

  • Brainstorming and workshopping essay prompts: tell chatGPT what topics you are covering and then ask it to propose essay prompts 
  • Summarizing articles, arguments and evidence: While chatGPT makes mistakes when producing new content, it excels at summarizing text. 
  • Develop ideas for future directions of projects
  • Read primary literature more quickly – use to read papers outside your field faster
  • Avoid blank paper inertia
  • Use chatGPT as a personal coding assistant for new coding projects

Those are our three specific recommendations for thinking about AI impacts on teaching and scholarship. Likely there will be more as the tools and service quickly evolve over the next few months. Please reach out to use at if you have any questions!

Fall 2022 Wrap Up

We hope your fall semester is wrapping up nicely. We’d like to take this opportunity to share with you some of the great things happening in the Faculty Hub that you might have missed this past semester.

The Faculty Hub space is seeing more and more activity this semester as a ‘return to campus’ trend continues. Looking for meeting space or just a quiet place to deliver a zoom conference talk? From faculty conferences to departmental meetings, the Faculty Hub space on the third floor of Boatwright Library has lots of great options for your next meeting. Reach out to Jane Bise to learn more about ways you can utilize the Faculty Hub space.

Our fourth semester of Morning Blend, a weekly opportunity to learn something new, welcomed a number of campus partners to the Faculty Hub. We were joined by Laura Knouse, Associate Professor of Psychology, for a session on Healthy Boundaries, and Samantha Guss, Social Sciences Librarian, spoke about citation management (yay for Zotero)! Director of Grant Support, Jeanine Larson, also helped us demystify the grant writing process. Faculty Hub staff led many other great sessions like “First Day of Class” and “How to Take Advantage of UR’s Digital Pedagogy Toolbox.” You can find the full archive of the fall 2022 Morning Blend sessions here.

We also started a new coaching program for faculty wishing to work one on one with a faculty colleague or Faculty Hub staff. This semester that program has engaged faculty on wide ranging topics from: building code for a data science project to getting feedback on a new book proposal. If you are interested in engaging with the coaching program next semester, reach out to Kitty Maynard to learn more.

Faculty Hub staff facilitated 17 courses assessments his fall (an all-time semester high for us – woot!). This service helps faculty better understand the student experience in their classes and promotes student metacognition. Interested in using this service in one of your spring 2023 courses? Schedule a facilitated course assessment here, or reach out to Kylie Korsnack to learn more.

This fall we offered a variety of opportunities for faculty to explore and deepen their knowledge of inclusive pedagogies. We hosted our colleague Carlos Hurtado initiative for a workshop on strategies to promote a sense of belonging in the classroom, and we co-sponsored a session on Understanding the Hidden Curriculum with guest speaker, Rachel Gable. New this semester, we launched the Inclusive Pedagogy Cohort 2.0: Students as Partners as an expansion to the Inclusive Pedagogy Cohort initiative that has existed in the Provost’s Office since 2018. This new group consists of six faculty members and five students (Student Inclusive Pedagogy Consultants employed by the Faculty Hub) who are working together to explore the possibility of creating a student-faculty partnership program focused on inclusive pedagogy. Please reach out to Kylie Korsnack if you would like more information about any of these workshops or programs.

Creating time and space to learn more about our faculty scholarship is one of the goals of our Faculty Hub Talk series. This semester over lunch we learned more about the scholarship of our colleagues: Matthew Oware and Julie McConnell. We also heard about the inspiring projects by last year’s Faculty Fellows David Brandenberger, Monti Datta, and Julietta Singh. In addition to hearing about the scholarly efforts of our own faculty, we also welcomed nationally-known Helen Sword for a session on Writing Productively – it can be viewed here.

In collaboration with our faculty partners on the Faculty Technology Committee, we awarded three Digital Pedagogy grants this past semester. 3D scanning (creating a digital three-dimensional model of a physical object) were central to two awards: Lizzie Baughan was awarded funds for iPads with 3D scanning ability, and Sandy Williams was awarded funds for an EinScan H scanner for large scale scanning projects. These applications were funded through a one-time funding opportunity for equipment. As part of our recurring software funding process we approved Lauren Henley’s exploration of an AI powered discussion board tool (Packback) that promotes student learning through deeper engagement. If interested in applying for a Digital Pedagogy grant, email Andrew Bell to learn more.

Getting Formative Feedback on Student Learning

Now that we’re all settling into the rhythms of the semester, it might be a good moment to schedule a Facilitated Course Assessment (FAC). An FAC is a great way to gather some informal, formative feedback from your students about how your course is going.

This Faculty Hub service is facilitated as a dialogue between students and a Faculty Hub consultant. FACs are designed to provide instructors with specific, extensive feedback about student learning in their course. A 25-35 minute conversation takes place without the instructor present, which ensures student anonymity, creating an opportunity for open, honest dialogue about the learning experience. Read the Faculty Hub’s overview of facilitated course assessments for more information.

Read the Full Mid-September Update

Supporting Teachers & Scholars

Greetings from the team here at the Faculty Hub! We hope that the first weeks of classes have been going smoothly for you. We’ve enjoyed connecting and re-connecting with you as you’ve returned to campus, and we look forward to supporting you as teacher-scholars as the academic year progresses. Because we recognize both the joys and challenges that come with being a teacher-scholar, this newsletter highlights two teaching-related resources (support for challenging moments in the classroom and teaching squares) and a new service for your scholarship (academic writing coaching).

Read the September Faculty Hub Newsletter

A New Semester

We at the Faculty Hub are sending you best wishes for a smooth and successful first week of classes. As you return to the rhythm of the academic year, we thought we’d share a few options, ideas, and programs to help start the academic year with your well-being in mind.

The Faculty Hub Welcome Back Breakfast 

On Wednesday, August 24, please join us for our Welcome Back Breakfast for a bit of back-to-school sustenance. We’ll have goodies from Sub Rosa Bakery and fancy coffee to keep you going during the first week of classes. Feel free to drop by the Faculty Hub anytime between 8:30 and 11:00 a.m. (and if you can, join us for Morning Blend from 9:30-10:00 a.m.). This is a great chance to reconnect with or meet your colleagues as well as the members of Faculty Hub team–Andrew Bell, Kylie Korsnack, Jane Bise, and incoming director Kitty Maynard.

Teaching That Takes Your Well-Being Into Account

We recognize that the past few years have brought many challenges and changes in our teaching. Through these challenges, we have also learned some ways to design our courses to make them more manageable in the long term. This document offers some of the most useful tips that we’ve found thus far.

Many of the Faculty Hub programs (including the Morning Blend programs below) are intended to help you make the most of your valuable time and align your time with your priorities. Check out Time-Saving Effective Grading Workflow Strategies on August 23-24, Citation Management on September 13-14, and Boundary Setting on September 21.

Read the rest of this Back to School newsletter

Fall ’22 Preview Newsletter

I am honored to be writing the introduction for this first newsletter of the academic year, just a few weeks after I began my new position as the Director of the Faculty Hub. Since my arrival on campus, it’s become clear that the progress and accomplishments of the Faculty Hub under the leadership of Linda Boland with her dedicated and talented team of faculty developers—Kylie Korsnack, Andrew Bell, and Libby Gruner—and our coordinator—Jane Bise—have been nothing short of remarkable. Just as remarkable is the fact that the Faculty Hub was created through the efforts and engagement of University of Richmond faculty and the support of the University’s leadership.

The 2019 Teaching and Scholarship Initiative (TSI) committee report offered a vision for the Faculty Hub as “a focal point for campus-wide efforts to support student learning and scholarly and creative work through faculty development.” The visual metaphor put forward in the TSI report, that of a focal point, implies that the Faculty Hub is a place to look to for support, which it very much is. But it’s also a real place, a real point on the campus map. The Faculty Hub is your space, and we hope you’ll come here to take part in our programming, have a consultation with our staff about your scholarship or teaching, and utilize our workstations and teleconferencing spaces. The Faculty Hub is also a great place to gather with colleagues, hold committee meetings, find a quiet corner for writing or grading, or pick up a book from our lending library.

As the Faculty Hub builds on its strong foundation for faculty development on campus, we are committed to ensuring that we continue to support you effectively. I am most excited to get to know you, the faculty at University of Richmond, and to understand how the Faculty Hub can contribute to improving your professional life. I invite you to stop by the third floor of Boatwright Library at your convenience or to make an appointment to chat in person about anything that’s on your mind. We welcome your suggestions and involvement in our programs, and we’d love to find opportunities for you to come and share your expertise with your colleagues.

This newsletter provides a sneak peek of our fall programs. We’re starting the year with some offerings to support you as you return to campus, notably with upcoming Morning Blend sessions on aligning your time with your priorities. We’ve also bolstered our writing support this semester to help keep you on track with your goals. In addition, we’ll have two faculty cohorts that might be of interest—first a semester-long Inclusive Pedagogy Cohort, and next, the Digital Pedagogy Cohort, whose focus will be on experimenting on how to leverage an LMS (learning management system, i.e., Blackboard) in your classes.

For many of us, the beginning of the academic year, more than January 1 or the first day of spring, can represent a time for new beginnings. This year, in particular, the return to campus will be a time of coming together, reconnecting with colleagues and the campus community, and encountering a new generation of students—with all the promise and challenge that will bring. That being said, it’s important to acknowledge that the past few years have altered our annual rhythm dramatically and have brought change, stress, grief, and loss. Many of us are experiencing those mixed emotions as we prepare for this new academic year, and I hope that we will all tread lightly and gently as we return to campus with a renewed sense of the importance of connection and community support.

Kitty Maynard

Director of the Teaching and Scholarship Hub

Read the full newsletter here to catch up on upcoming events and check out some useful resources.

May Newsletter

From the digging up of tulip bulbs to the reduced density of yellow dust on everything outdoors, there are plenty of signs that spring term is ending. As we transition from the academic year to summer, I’m remembering the past few weeks of celebratory events, from inauguration activities to research symposia and retirement parties, with the accomplishments of students, faculty, and staff continually recognized and celebrated. Each event marked a transition and provided a necessary pause for reflection and the creation of new memories.

One of the most memorable events of my spring term also served as a timely reminder of why we do what we do as faculty. This year, I was honored to attend the end-of-year celebration of the Department of Theatre and Dance – a wonderfully entertaining and memorable evening that included a costumed coronavirus (Johann Stegmeir) chasing a classroom teacher dressed in full personal protective gear (Anne Van Gelder), accompanied by pursuit and escape music and lighting! Interspersed with departmental awards and costume changes with comedic skits (Johann and Anne), several graduating students gave memorable and heartwarming speeches about their experiences at UR, describing the guidance, education, sense of community, and developmental support they experienced along the way. It was a poignant reminder, as we find all across campus, of who we are when we chant “we are…UR” – we are a caring and committed group of talented artists and scholars who can, alone and together, have remarkable impact on students’ lives. Messaging like this about the positive experiences of our students occurs throughout the year, but it becomes more meaningful when we hear it from the students who are themselves in transition, and reflecting on their last four years—the students who will graduate next weekend.

Sometimes we don’t hear those messages clearly, though, as we are in the midst of our own transitions, or are too busy to reflect. It can be helpful, then, to remember that these transitions are part of the academic year cycle and to try to find the necessary time to reflect, to remember, and even, if necessary, to re-boot.

Unfortunately, re-booting isn’t as simple as selecting the “restart” button on your computer when it becomes stuck or frozen. Re-booting is going to be a series of actions over time to address pace, routines, and priorities. Some delays may occur until prior commitments are resolved but, when the time is right, re-booting allows greater intentionality and better integration of well-being into our lives. Re-booting is a necessary practice to avoid errors and malfunction when you finally re-start your computer. Likewise, a re-boot seems particularly important in the transition to summer 2022 and we encourage you to reach out to the Faculty Hub as part of your re-boot when the time is right for you. Some of the opportunities in this newsletter may speak to your interests and we always welcome your feedback about supporting teaching and scholarship when the time is right for you.

Best wishes for your transition to summer,

Linda Boland
Associate Provost for Faculty, Director of the Teaching and Scholarship Hub, and Professor of Biology

Read the full newsletter here to catch up on upcoming events and check out some useful resources.

April Newsletter

A big part of what we do in the Faculty Hub is encouraging and facilitating faculty learning together. This month, we wrap up some of our semester-based and academic year-based faculty cohorts including those focusing on inclusive pedagogy (two groups this year!), digital pedagogy (one each semester), and professional development for early career faculty. These are just some of the groups that meet regularly with and within the Faculty Hub. Faculty who have participated in the cohorts will be present to connect with other faculty at the upcoming Celebration of Teaching on Thursday, April 14 at 3:30 p.m. We invite all instructors to join the festivities! RSVP here. Please also let us know if you have a small group that we can help support. For example, some faculty have been gathering in the Faculty Hub to write together. More information about writing space is available in this newsletter. Also, a small group has been gathering from time to time over the past two academic years, to explore alternative assessment practices, including ungrading – a process that capitalizes on the benefits of formative feedback to guide learning and with adherence to a growth mindset. To understand why some faculty find this to be a transformational teaching and learning experience, please see Libby Gruner’s article in The Conversation and reach out to the Faculty Hub if you would like to learn more! In these and other activities, our goal has been to facilitate faculty-faculty learning and community building while also offering individualized faculty professional development support. In this month’s newsletter, we invite you to explore the opportunities and services we offer; as always, please reach out to us if you have unmet needs that we can discuss with you.

The Faculty Hub Team

Read the full newsletter here to catch up on upcoming events and check out some useful resources.

March Newsletter

March has long been a favorite month of mine, partly because of the excitement of March Madness, the NCAA’s marketing term for the final tournament that crowns championship teams in men’s and women’s basketball. March Madness is the pageantry of a three-week event of “one-and-done” games with non-stop media coverage. The “madness” is the amazing, last-second winning shots, the underdogs sometimes coming out on top, and the incredible individual performances and teamwork. It is, despite all the analytics and prognostications, a period of unpredictability, and it repeatedly exposes raw human emotions, from extreme exhilaration to intense disappointment.

Madness was also a subject of study of the late neurologist Oliver Sacks (1933-2015), a passionate optimist and humanist who turned clinical case studies into narratives that reflect underlying positive aspects of the human condition. Sacks’s stories about madness juxtaposed disturbances of the mind with features that many would consider desirable, such as explosive energy and creativity. His writings remind us that we experience positive and negative at the same time: successes alongside disappointments, winning shots as well as the ones that don’t make it.

The time period after spring break has always felt like madness to me as we begin a sprint to the finish with numerous projects to supervise, theses to review, letters of recommendation to write, and celebrations to attend. This year, I want the madness of March to retain a sense of optimism so that we appreciate how hard we have worked individually and collectively and how far we have come. Shining moments for students will abound and there will also be many opportunities to recognize the achievements of the faculty in the next two months. Beginning with the annual Faculty Accomplishments Reception this week and including a new Celebration of Teaching next month, congratulatory events remain important for supporting one another. Beyond the culminating works we will celebrate, we also recognize that the shining moments surface daily in all of the ways that faculty work impacts others – on the stage, in classrooms, studios, and labs, and for those who read, view, or experience our work. As the semester continues, the Faculty Hub hopes to learn more about the sources of your explosive energy and creativity and ways that we can support you as you continually grow as a teacher and scholar. Our March newsletter highlights some of the opportunities we are offering, and we look forward to helping you navigate the madness!

Linda Boland
Associate Provost for Faculty, Director of the Teaching and Scholarship Hub, and Professor of Biology

Read the full newsletter here to catch up on upcoming events and check out some useful resources.

February Newsletter

Welcome to February, that short, bleak, month into which we pack the celebration of two presidents, four hundred years of Black History, and the hearts and flowers of romantic love. It’s the longest stretch of the semester without a break, and if you began the semester already tired, as I did, it may all just seem like too much.

The Faculty Hub held two sessions on sustainable teaching recently, and we listened as we also discussed recovering our joy and purpose, boundary-setting, and finding efficiencies. What we heard is what you probably already know: that the past five semesters have both created and exposed enormous challenges to our conventional teaching practices. We simply cannot go on as before and be either equitable or sustainable.

So we invite you to think with us as we focus this month on the twin challenges—and promises—of equity and sustainability. On February 11, we welcome Dr. Bedelia Richards, founder of RaceTalk LLC and Associate Professor of Sociology, for a facilitated conversation on creating an inclusive environment in the classroom. Learn more and register here. Dr. Richards draws on her research and teaching practice to offer sustainable and effective practices for building trust and supporting all students, especially those with marginalized identities. We are also happy to welcome Dr. Janelle Peifer, Assistant Professor of Psychology, as our newest Faculty Hub Associate. You can read more about Dr. Peifer elsewhere in this newsletter; she’ll be working with us to facilitate conversations on building affective capacity for avoiding and dealing with microaggressions. Both faculty and students have been asking for these conversations and we are delighted to be able to offer them.

We also invite you to continue to think with us about how to make our own practices more sustainable. Whether that’s “bundling” Zoom appointments and working from home sometimes to avoid a commute, or streamlining assessments and feedback to be both more timely and more efficient, we’d love to talk about solutions that work. You may also find some of them in our Morning Blend archive—a sustainable approach to faculty development, with 10-15 minute recorded presentations and tip sheets on a variety of topics for you to access on your own time. (Or, of course, join us live on Thursday at 9 am (over Zoom) or Friday at 10:30 in the Hub for the newest offerings!)

Finally, sustainability is a matter of equity: we cannot serve our students if we don’t take care of ourselves, and of the environment around us. And our students deserve to see us setting boundaries and taking care, so that they, too, learn these important skills for themselves. I hope we can work together, not only during this short month but every month, to raise our awareness of how sustainability and equity are linked—to slow down, take a deep breath, and focus on what really matters.

Libby Gruner
Coordinator for Faculty Development in Teaching, Faculty Hub, and Professor of English 

Read the full newsletter here to catch up on upcoming events and check out some useful resources.