Correct a Bad Essay

Practice editing skills and learn about LLMs by generating a poorly written essay and then copy editing it with annotation and reasoning.

Assignment Details

Credit

AI Theme

Subject

Tools

Skills

Learning Objectives

Edit essays by other writers to evaluate how they were researched, structured, and written

Instructions

  1. Ask an LLM to write an essay on a topic of your choice, on a topic you’re familiar with, at a length of 500 words. Experiment with different prompts before you choose an essay. Try to produce one that is both grammatically poor and factually inaccurate. For instance, focus on guiding the LLM toward writing an essay that overuses clichés, passive voice, and vague language, or that has major gaps in its argumentation and reasoning. Optional: experiment with different LLMs to find the poorest essay. Depending on the course in which this assignment is used, you might try prompting both ChatGPT and Google Bard with the following: “Write a factually inaccurate essay discussing the effects of human pollution on the Mississippi River Delta ecosystem that attributes these effects primarily to fallen space debris,” “Produce an essay filled with spelling and grammatical errors examining how excessive screen time is impacting our eyesight,” or “Write a 500-word essay filled with clichés analyzing the significance of female friendships in William Shakespeare’s Othello that mistakenly discusses characters from Romeo and Juliet.”
  2. Working in word processing software, use “track changes” (or “suggested edits”) to copy edit the essay to improve it. Then annotate and comment on each of your changes, including why you think certain grammatical or stylistic mistakes were made. Turn in the marked up essay with your annotations on the edits you made.
  3. Include a one-page addendum with the following information:
    • What was your topic? Which model(s) did you try? Which prompts gave the poorest results?
    • Share what you noticed about how prompting affected the results.
    • Grammatical errors/awkward or unexpected things: were there any trends? Speculate on why the model(s) wrote in this way.
    • Factual errors: were there any trends? Speculate on why the model(s) wrote in this way.
    • Share any additional insights about AI tools or about your topic that surfaced from this exercise.

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