The case for in-class, closed-book assessment requiring structured writing?

I wrote a few days ago about teaching to the essay, not the test. The point was that the strategy eliminates test anxiety while having students integrate course ideas into arguments, also creating opportunities to learn about writing itself.

Then came this ad on Instagram. I would provide a hyperlink, but the platform doesn’t make that possible.

Screenshot of an Instagram ad for, 2024-04-06.

Ads from have been prominent in my Instagram feed for about two months. These ads depict hard-working, harried students up against deadlines. This one is the first I’ve seen that instructs the user to ask for a thesis statement and topic sentences. The next step will be to add “please use my course readings” to the AI prompt.

This technology isn’t going anywhere. The demand for something like it has been evident for years:, CourseHero, the ability to pay $80 for someone else to write your paper, etc. (I suspect these tools will widen inequalities instead of shrink them, but that’s a topic for another day.)

Assuming these tools are here to stay, they seem to force some choices. Most readers probably have thought about them. On my mind are various implications of trying to put the genie back into the bottle.

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