Framework for the Future:

Building AI Literacy in Higher Education

Integrating generative artificial intelligence (AI) in higher education has sparked excitement and enthusiasm alongside widespread debate and controversy. The simultaneous rapid adoption of and movements to ban generative AI have underscored gaps in how educators and students understand and leverage such technology. This deficiency in AI literacy is evidenced by emerging practices such as using AI tools to detect and ‘humanize’ AI-generated content, which leads to rash decision-making, where educational stakeholders might misuse AI tools—thinking they enhance learning—or prohibit their use and miss potential benefits due to misconceptions. Thus, an AI literacy framework tailored for higher education is needed to equip educational stakeholders with the necessary skills for critical evaluation and effective utilization of AI.

The framework proposed in this paper builds on Selber’s (2004) framework for digital literacies by adapting it to the complexities of AI in a post-digital age. Following Selber’s categorization, we divided AI literacy into functional, critical, and rhetorical dimensions. Our adaptation redefines these categories within the context of common academic uses of generative AI. It outlines specific, actionable steps for each category to advance competencies in the three literacy categories. This action-oriented approach can foster AI literacy by encouraging stakeholders to actively engage with and critically reflect upon their use of AI.


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