How I am Using ChatGPT in Marketing Courses

Last semester, I discovered that my students were using AI paraphrasing software to evade plagiarism detection on their case study submissions, rendering obsolete. Two weeks later, OpenAI launched ChatGPT, breaking open my comfortable world as an educator and leaving me breathless with both excitement and fear.

Businesses – the employers of my students – have been adopting generative AI with impressive speed. Although some organizations have privacy concerns and have restricted its use, at least temporarily (e.g., J.P. Morgan), most have embraced it almost overnight. It quickly became clear to me that if my students cannot demonstrate value-added over the AI tsunami, they would be unemployed.

Like most of us, I have been trying to figure out what ChatGPT and other AI tools mean for both learning and assessment. Fran asked me to offer a couple of thoughts from my own experiences in using ChatGPT in my classes this semester.

First, a couple of the key insights I took away from the recent faculty development day focused on ChatGPT were:

  1. Understand what it is that you are teaching in your particular course, and for the rest, let students use the tools available to them. Derek Bruff told us the story of his ornithology colleague and the bird song app. If identifying bird songs is core to what I am teaching students in my class, then they can’t use the bird song app. For the rest of us, download away!
  2. Can ChatGPT be a leveler? Whether it’s marginalized first-generation undergrad college students, or more privileged international grad students from countries and languages around the world, my colleague Jennifer Griffiths wondered whether the ability to ask ChatGPT to write in different “voices” might help students see that the voices they bring to their education process are all equally valuable – just different. All of a sudden, being a native-born English speaker or the child of educated parents does not necessarily have to confer an enormous advantage; perhaps hard work, curiosity, and insightful critical thinking will be the differentiators.

What have I done with ChatGPT this semester?

  1. In my classes, I have given students assignments early in the semester in which they MUST use ChatGPT to generate a response. And then they must analyze its output and apply it to a specific company problem. Yes, this means the heavy lifting of writing is done for them, and for my many international students (and for me who has to grade their work), this has been a breath of fresh air. And they do not need to memorize the key elements of the new tactical marketing mix, because ChatGPT gives them a start. But they still need to think critically because they need to apply what ChatGPT has given them to the practical business problem at hand, and I am able to grade them for their critical thinking rather than their English writing.
  2. In my marketing research class, we are experimenting real-time with ChatGPT. We are generating spontaneous prompts in class to see what we think about the bot’s response. We are working on refining prompts and asking deeper questions. We have used the bot to help us generate semester project ideas, generate and refine focus group questions, and analyze and rewrite survey questions.

We have even experimented with in-class assignments, in which half the class works in pairs on their own, and the other half works in pairs using ChatGPT. We are starting to understand when the bot is helpful, and when it’s not. And what its limitations are. There are even teams of students doing their entire semester projects researching how students and professors are using ChatGPT, how local businesses are using it, and how consumers perceive ads that are generated using AI.

What will all this do for students’ learning? I don’t know, but I know I have no choice. Their employers are all using ChatGPT and they will be expecting students to know how to use it as well. Students are seeing in real time that if an AI can do what they used to be hired to do, they will not have a job. Transformation is not an option; it is a requirement.

Thoughts on Assessment

I have to admit I have not at all figured out the assessment piece, and I am dreading really thinking about it. I am fortunate to be in a discipline and teaching courses which lend themselves to applied projects. I have told the students that the availability of tools like ChatGPT means I expect them to use them, and will be raising my assessment standards to entirely new levels accordingly. In their submissions, I find myself completely revisiting the bar lines I have used in past semesters. So far, so good.

I have also done away (permanently) with graded case study submissions. Case studies are a cornerstone of business education, and for me this was initially a very frightening thought. However, the point of grading case studies was always to make sure that students actually read them and thought about them before class. The point is not to teach them how to write a case study response (no one actually ever writes case study responses in business!); the point is to teach them how to analyze a business problem and use theory to identify and analyze potential solutions.

Instead, I am now trying to leverage students’ innate competitiveness to have them post their case study responses transparently in Canvas (using the discussion board feature that requires them to post first, before they can view others’ posts). In this age of AI paraphrasing software, is meaningless, so I won’t grade their initial posts. But I will grade the quality of the feedback they give to their classmates and I will challenge them orally in class. Will they read and think about the case study problems if they know their responses are not graded? Will oral challenges and peer pressure be sufficient motivators to think, analyze and communicate critically? Check back with me next semester. I don’t know, but it has to be better than spending my semester playing traffic cop with AI paraphrasing software.


I am still figuring out what I am doing as I try to learn all I possibly can in this brave new AI world. But what I do know for certain is that the world is exploding around us, and we have to change with it, or we and our students will not succeed.