Skip to Main Content

Engineering 190W - Spring 2024 - Foresta Section

Email this link:

Hints for submitting effective prompts

To retrieve effective and appropriate content, follow these guidelines:

  • Remember that databases provide content and AI tools organize and structure what information you want generated for specific purposes
  • Clarity and specificity is imperative
  • Provide the context for the writing task
  • Consider assigning the tool a specific role to perform
  • Best results yield one task to be performed at a time
  • Submit commands into a series of steps
  • Write in complete sentences.
  • Don't expect the same answers if you frame the context or question differently

Understanding ChatGPT

As libraries respond to what has become one of the most talked about topic in higher education this year, and consider ways to adopt and adapt AI tools to improve their services and provide ways that its users can benefit from AI, the implications here will be for students.  These tools are large language models (LLM) that use natural language processing (NLP) to retrieve your information request. Specifically how Artificial Intelligence and ChatGPT can be used enabling better search retrieval of information, personalized recommendations and more efficient customer service.  There are certainly both challenges and limitations of using AI and ChatGPT. One myth is that Chat GPT is not a database of sources but it is a large source of content, not always correctly cited forcing users to fact-check and evaluate the information with reliable and verified sources and to determine which parts of the retrieved output is usable.

ChatGPT is not a database where you find passages or content.  It is an app built by OpenAI.  It uses GPT language models or natural language processing to create conversational dialogue that is humanlike or that are crafted into a chatbot so that it can respond to questions, compose different written texts including articles, social media posts, essays, messages, ads, and even code.  All this is done by analyzing user's input and then generating a response based on its understanding of the topic.  But that is where one must be careful because the assumptions may be wrong or inaccurate.  To get the most useful responses, you may want to include action verbs that define what you seeking, by inserting useful detail and context and define the potential audience for whom the document or product is needed.

ChatGPT offers writing options that may include varying degrees of completeness for:

  • grammar & punctuation
  • vocabulary
  • coherence & readability
  • transitions & structure
  • clarity
  • tone & style

You want to be careful and consistent and check out all references ChatGPT makes because they may not be legitimate or accurate.  Is it in your voice? 

Remember what a prompt is - a topic that guides your writing content.  Can be phrased as a question, statement, image, quotation, poem, example, but something that will retrieve satisfactory information for you to focus on while you write.  Prompts come in different forms, as there are different styles of writing:

  • Research
  • Descriptive
  • Expository
  • Opinion
  • Persuasive
  • Advocacy
  • Narrative


Resources on AI & Writing

There is a growing volume of literature describing the experience of utilizing AI in composition and writing.  Here are some examples: