Educational Tools,  Teaching & Learning

Generative AI, In Practice: Assignment Creation 

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Last spring, I taught an online course. In the middle of the semester, a student did not do well on one assignment and asked if I could give him another set of questions to review. I said yes.  

The assignment was a database design task that involved a business case and a dozen sample data rows – for example, a fictional medical clinic that uses Excel sheets to manage its appointments. The table in the image below contains sample data from last year.  

table with data including staff ID, doctor name, patient ID, patient name, appointment date, appointment time, surgery ID, surgery description, and operating room.

The most time-consuming aspect of creating a similar assignment was developing a new case and generating sample data which must represent as many unique cases as possible. Once the case was created, I could reuse the same questions as the previous assignment.  

I turned to Microsoft Copilot for some help.  In my prompt, I included both the learning outcomes that the assignment was to assess as well as the original assignment to allow AI to understand its context.  Then, I asked Copilot to propose a new assignment based on the information I provided. 

The first case Copilot gave me was a library management system case. It initially gave me five rows, so I asked for ten and instructed Copilot to consider different use cases and choose books suitable for a Christian school. The table in the image below is the final version. 

table with data including librarian ID, librarian name, book ID, book name, member ID, member name, borrow date, return date, shelf ID, and shelf location.

This exercise with Copilot was to create an assignment based on an existing assignment. However, I was curious and asked Copilot what information I should provide to assist me in designing a good assignment. Below is the response: 

Copilot – To help you design a good assignment, I would need the following information:

  1. Subject or Topic: What is the subject or topic of the assignment? Is it related to a specific course or field of study?
  2. Objective: What do you want the students to learn or achieve from this assignment?
  3. Format: What format should the assignment take? For example, is it a research paper, a presentation, a group project, etc.?
  4. Length: How long should the assignment be? If it’s a written assignment, how many pages or words should it be?
  5. Resources: Are there any specific resources the students should use? For example, specific textbooks, websites, or databases.
  6. Deadline: When is the assignment due? Is there a specific submission process?
  7. Grading Criteria: How will the assignment be graded? What are the key points that students should focus on to get a good grade?
  8. Level of Difficulty: What is the expected level of difficulty of the assignment? Is it designed for beginners, intermediate learners, or advanced students?
  9. Prerequisites: Are there any prerequisites for the assignment? Do students need to have certain knowledge or skills before they can start the assignment?
  10. Additional Instructions: Are there any other specific instructions or guidelines for the assignment?

Once I have this information, I can help you design an assignment that is engaging, challenging, and effective for your students. Please provide as much detail as possible to ensure the assignment is tailored to your needs.

To test it, I continued and gave Copilot the following prompt: 

Topic: CRUD design in a System Analysis and Design course. 

Objective: Use a CRUD matrix to map user permissions and responsibilities to database management for a given case scenario. 

Format: Make the assignment as a case study. Provide learners with an authentic scenario with use cases and then ask them to map out the CRUD matrix. 

Resources: Use the template provided in the Resources module of the Canvas course 

Grading: Create a rubric for grading the case study 

Submission: Submit a Word file in Canvas 

Here is the output: 

Case Scenario: You are a system analyst for a medium-sized hospital. The hospital is planning to upgrade its patient records management system. The new system will have different types of users including doctors, nurses, administrators, and patients. Each user type will have different permissions for creating, reading, updating, and deleting data.


  1. User Permissions: List the types of data each user type should be able to create, read, update, and delete. Consider data such as patient records, appointment schedules, medical histories, billing information, etc.
  2. CRUD Matrix: Based on your answer to the previous question, create a CRUD matrix that maps user permission to database operations. Use the template provided in the Resources module of the Canvas course.
  3. Case Analysis: Discuss how the CRUD matrix helps in managing user permissions and responsibilities in the context of the hospital’s patient records management system.

Submission: Please submit your answers in a Word file in Canvas. Make sure to follow the formatting guidelines provided in the Resources module of the Canvas course.

Grading: Your assignment will be graded based on the following rubric:

  • Understanding of CRUD (30%): Demonstrates a clear understanding of CRUD operations and their role in database management.
  • CRUD Matrix (40%): Accurately maps user permissions to CRUD operations in the matrix.
  • Case Analysis (30%): Provides a thoughtful analysis of how the CRUD matrix applies to the case scenario.

It is not perfect, but it is a good starting point for me to continue working on it later. 

From my interaction with Copilot for assignment creation, I have found that Generative AI is helpful in drafting assignments, especially when you can provide thorough details of what you want to assess and the context of the course.  

Questions? Comments? Drop them below, and we’ll chat!  

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