Cases of EFL Secondary Students' Prompt Engineering Pathways to Complete a Writing Task with ChatGPT

Cases of EFL Secondary Students' Prompt Engineering Pathways to Complete a Writing Task with ChatGPT
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Original Paper
ChatGPT is a state-of-the-art (SOTA) chatbot. Although it has potential to support English as a foreign language (EFL) students' writing, to effectively collaborate with it, a student must learn to engineer prompts, that is, the skill of crafting appropriate instructions so that ChatGPT produces desired outputs. However, writing an appropriate prompt for ChatGPT is not straightforward for non-technical users who suffer a trial-and-error process. This paper examines the content of EFL students' ChatGPT prompts when completing a writing task and explores patterns in the quality and quantity of the prompts. The data come from iPad screen recordings of secondary school EFL students who used ChatGPT and other SOTA chatbots for the first time to complete the same writing task. The paper presents a case study of four distinct pathways that illustrate the trial-and-error process and show different combinations of prompt content and quantity. The cases contribute evidence for the need to provide prompt engineering education in the context of the EFL writing classroom, if students are to move beyond an individual trial-and-error process, learning a greater variety of prompt content and more sophisticated prompts to support their writing.

Summary Notes

Mastering Prompt Engineering: A Must-Have Skill for AI Engineers in Big Companies

In the fast-paced world of artificial intelligence (AI), where advanced models like ChatGPT are becoming standard, a critical skill is making its mark for AI engineers — prompt engineering.
This skill involves creating precise instructions to guide AI models toward generating the desired results. For large companies aiming to maximize AI technologies, prompt engineering is not just a technical skill but a strategic advantage.

Introduction: A New Way to Interact with AI

The move from traditional rule-based AI to sophisticated neural network models has transformed our interaction with AI systems.
This evolution emphasizes the need for AI literacy, especially in prompt engineering, making it a key competency for professionals. For AI engineers in large corporations, mastering prompt engineering can elevate AI applications from adequate to exceptional.

Why Prompt Engineering Matters

Prompt engineering goes beyond simple commands; it's about engaging with AI to achieve specific and complex goals. Its importance lies in:
  • Boosting AI Performance: Effective prompts can enhance the accuracy of AI models, leading to smarter decision-making.
  • Customization and Control: Engineers can adjust AI responses to meet particular business needs, offering a competitive advantage.
  • Improving Efficiency: Optimized prompts mean less time and fewer resources are wasted, making development processes more efficient.

Strategies and Tips

For AI engineers eager to improve their prompt engineering skills, here are some actionable strategies:

Know Your AI Model

  • Understand the Model: Get to know the strengths and limitations of the AI model you're working with.
  • Use Documentation: Take advantage of documentation and community insights to learn best practices.

Crafting Better Prompts

  • Be Clear and Specific: Avoid ambiguity in your prompts to get better, more predictable responses from the AI.
  • Provide Context: Adding context can help the AI deliver more accurate answers.
  • Test and Learn: Try out various prompts and learn from the AI's responses to refine your approach.

Continuous Improvement

  • Keep Learning: Stay updated on AI and prompt engineering advancements.
  • Learn from Other Fields: Insights from areas like linguistics and psychology can improve how you communicate with AI systems.

Benefits for Large Companies

For big corporations, investing in prompt engineering expertise is crucial for several reasons:
  • Staying Ahead: Efficient use of AI can significantly outpace competitors.
  • Driving Innovation: Prompt engineering can open up new possibilities for AI applications, spurring growth.
  • Reducing Risks: Well-designed prompts reduce the chances of errors in AI interactions, avoiding costly mistakes.


As AI shapes the future of technology in large corporations, the importance of prompt engineering for AI engineers is clear. By honing this skill, engineers can unlock the full capabilities of AI models, fostering innovation, efficiency, and a competitive edge.
The path to proficiency in prompt engineering involves ongoing learning and experimentation, but the rewards for engineers and their companies are invaluable.
For AI engineers in big companies, now is the time to focus on prompt engineering — the key to advancing AI interaction and application.

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