GenAI writing assistants – a guide to navigating Grammarly and other tools

Many writing assistants and writing support tools are now available that utilise GenAI to provide some or all of their features. Like any other GenAI tool, it’s essential to think critically about how these tools can be used appropriately and effectively in learning and assessment. This article provides guidance for staff and students on how to navigate GenAI-enabled writing assistants.

Commonly used AI-enabled writing assistants include Grammarly, MS Copilot, Wordtune and otter.ai. Some platforms like Grammarly allow the GenAI component to be disabled, so that the other writing assistance functions such as spelling and grammar checking can still be used. Other platforms integrate AI into all features.

NB: Links to Grammarly are used in this article, but guidance applies to any AI writing assistant platforms. Consult the documentation of any platforms used for specific features and directions.

Guidance for staff

  • Provide explicit guidance to your students on whether and how use of GenAI tools, including writing assistants, is appropriate in your assessment context
  • Focus on features and functions not specific platforms – while some platforms may be more common than others, there will always be a broad range of products on the market. Focusing on what features are and aren’t appropriate in your context is the most sustainable and effective approach.
  • Disambiguate GenAI functions from other writing assistance functions – ensure your focus is on limiting features of concern rather than rote banning of platforms so that students can still access appropriate support tools
  • Ensure your advice is linked to the learning outcomes for your unit – avoid unnecessarily limiting student access to tools that support functions that are not explicitly assessed by your unit learning outcomes, such as spelling and grammar
  • Consider professional context – use of writing assistance (whether human or AI) is a common professional practice in many industries and it may be appropriate to support students in building this as a professional skill
  • Escalation of assessment tasks for investigation as a potential breach of academic integrity based solely on the TurnItIn AI indicator score is not recommended – look for other contextual indicators as evidence that academic integrity may have been breached

Assessment provisions

  • Students who require access to writing support tools as part of their Study Access Plans should not be denied access to these tools to avoid breaching our obligations under the Disability Discrimination Act. You should provide advice to students on whether the GenAI feature must be disabled for your unit. If this cannot be accommodated in your unit, you must meet the access need in another way – the student may be able to identify an alternative tool that meets the same access need, or you can offer an alternative reasonable adjustment such as modified marking approaches – see the ADCET advisory below for further guidance.
  • If your unit utilises online supervised exams, use of writing assistants and enabling/disabling of GenAI features can be specified in the protocols for your exam and managed effectively by the exam supervisor – simply advise the DigEd team when we request your exam information each trimester.

Guidance for students

  • Follow the advice provided by your unit coordinator, and remember the principles of academic integrity always apply regardless of context or tools
  • Review the features of any platforms or tools you use to ensure you are familiar with them and can make decisions that align with your UC’s advice and the Student Academic Integrity Policy
  • Disable the GenAI feature – unless your UC has explicitly advised otherwise, you should assume use of GenAI tools is not permitted
  • If GenAI use is permitted in your assessment, cite the use of GenAI in your work as an ethical practice – some tools such as Grammarly provide prompts that make it simple to cite the use of GenAI
  • Document your writing process to ensure you can demonstrate the authenticity of your work
  • Consider managing your use of a writing assistant in a separate workflow, such as drafting in one document and pasting into another to utilise spelling and grammar assistance

Further reading