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Definition of conclusion

  • consequence
  • determination

Examples of conclusion in a Sentence

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'conclusion.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin conclusion-, conclusio , from concludere — see conclude

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Phrases Containing conclusion

  • bring to a conclusion
  • bring to conclusion
  • foregone conclusion
  • draw a conclusion
  • reach its conclusion
  • in conclusion
  • reach a conclusion
  • come to the conclusion

Dictionary Entries Near conclusion



Cite this Entry

“Conclusion.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary , Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/conclusion. Accessed 1 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

Kids definition of conclusion, legal definition, legal definition of conclusion, more from merriam-webster on conclusion.

Nglish: Translation of conclusion for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of conclusion for Arabic Speakers

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the end or close; final part.

the last main division of a discourse, usually containing a summing up of the points and a statement of opinion or decisions reached.

a result, issue, or outcome; settlement or arrangement: The restitution payment was one of the conclusions of the negotiations.

final decision: The judge has reached his conclusion.

a reasoned deduction or inference.

Logic . a proposition concluded or inferred from the premises of an argument.

the effect of an act by which the person performing the act is bound not to do anything inconsistent therewith; an estoppel.

the end of a pleading or conveyance.

Grammar . apodosis .

Idioms about conclusion

in conclusion , finally: In conclusion, I would like to thank you for your attention.

try conclusions with , to engage oneself in a struggle for victory or mastery over, as a person or an impediment.

Origin of conclusion

Synonym study for conclusion, other words for conclusion, opposites for conclusion, other words from conclusion.

  • con·clu·sion·al, adjective
  • con·clu·sion·al·ly, adverb
  • non·con·clu·sion, noun
  • pre·con·clu·sion, noun

Words Nearby conclusion

  • concomitance

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use conclusion in a sentence

The conclusions were drawn by the majority staff under committee Chairman Peter DeFazio.

It has been a difficult journey for her, but fortunately it has a happy conclusion .

The real conclusion , yet again, is that getting the most bang out of your altitude buck is complicated and highly individual.

Westlake has disputed the conclusions and details of a legislative report that corroborated three women’s complaints that he made unwanted sexual advances.

Local research into police stops has reached similar conclusions.

Was there an investigation of people at DOJ before they arrived at that conclusion ?

Editorial and political cartoon pages from throughout the world almost unanimously came to the same conclusion .

Following this line of reasoning to its logical conclusion , the way to achieve world peace is to give everyone atomic bombs.

In that sense, the last Report was mildly unsatisfying as a conclusion , in that it left so much unresolved.

Magnum came into being as a cooperative only two years after the conclusion of World War II.

And the others, not knowing that he had that day repented, sat at their distance and tried to form no conclusion .

The conclusion is reached that, despite these drawbacks, the Jesuit mission in Canada has made a hopeful beginning.

The interest of the story is now at an end; but much yet remains before the conclusion .

How would the involuntary accusation have been embittered, had he known that the Empress drew the same conclusion !

I made the experiment two years ago, and all my experience since has corroborated the conclusion then arrived at.

British Dictionary definitions for conclusion

/ ( kənˈkluːʒən ) /

end or termination

the last main division of a speech, lecture, essay, etc

the outcome or result of an act, process, event, etc (esp in the phrase a foregone conclusion )

a final decision or judgment; resolution (esp in the phrase come to a conclusion )

a statement that purports to follow from another or others (the premises ) by means of an argument

a statement that does validly follow from given premises

an admission or statement binding on the party making it; estoppel

the close of a pleading or of a conveyance

in conclusion lastly; to sum up

jump to conclusions to come to a conclusion prematurely, without sufficient thought or on incomplete evidence

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Other Idioms and Phrases with conclusion

see foregone conclusion; jump to a conclusion.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

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Definition of conclusion noun from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary

  • formulate/advance a theory/hypothesis
  • build/construct/create/develop a simple/theoretical/mathematical model
  • develop/establish/provide/use a theoretical/conceptual framework/an algorithm
  • advance/argue/develop the thesis that…
  • explore an idea/a concept/a hypothesis
  • make a prediction/an inference
  • base a prediction/your calculations on something
  • investigate/evaluate/accept/challenge/reject a theory/hypothesis/model
  • design an experiment/a questionnaire/a study/a test
  • do research/an experiment/an analysis
  • make observations/calculations
  • take/record measurements
  • carry out/conduct/perform an experiment/a test/a longitudinal study/observations/clinical trials
  • run an experiment/a simulation/clinical trials
  • repeat an experiment/a test/an analysis
  • replicate a study/the results/the findings
  • observe/study/examine/investigate/assess a pattern/a process/a behavior
  • fund/support the research/project/study
  • seek/provide/get/secure funding for research
  • collect/gather/extract data/information
  • yield data/evidence/similar findings/the same results
  • analyze/examine the data/soil samples/a specimen
  • consider/compare/interpret the results/findings
  • fit the data/model
  • confirm/support/verify a prediction/a hypothesis/the results/the findings
  • prove a conjecture/hypothesis/theorem
  • draw/make/reach the same conclusions
  • read/review the records/literature
  • describe/report an experiment/a study
  • present/publish/summarize the results/findings
  • present/publish/read/review/cite a paper in a scientific journal
  • article, paper, report, study, survey
  • author, researcher, scientist
  • reasonably, safely
  • arrive at, come to, draw, reach
  • reinforce, support
  • be based on, derive from
  • definitive, firm
  • logical, valid
  • evidence, proof
  • evidence, findings, result

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The Oxford Learner’s Thesaurus explains the difference between groups of similar words. Try it for free as part of the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary app

conclusion is what


What this handout is about.

This handout will explain the functions of conclusions, offer strategies for writing effective ones, help you evaluate conclusions you’ve drafted, and suggest approaches to avoid.

About conclusions

Introductions and conclusions can be difficult to write, but they’re worth investing time in. They can have a significant influence on a reader’s experience of your paper.

Just as your introduction acts as a bridge that transports your readers from their own lives into the “place” of your analysis, your conclusion can provide a bridge to help your readers make the transition back to their daily lives. Such a conclusion will help them see why all your analysis and information should matter to them after they put the paper down.

Your conclusion is your chance to have the last word on the subject. The conclusion allows you to have the final say on the issues you have raised in your paper, to synthesize your thoughts, to demonstrate the importance of your ideas, and to propel your reader to a new view of the subject. It is also your opportunity to make a good final impression and to end on a positive note.

Your conclusion can go beyond the confines of the assignment. The conclusion pushes beyond the boundaries of the prompt and allows you to consider broader issues, make new connections, and elaborate on the significance of your findings.

Your conclusion should make your readers glad they read your paper. Your conclusion gives your reader something to take away that will help them see things differently or appreciate your topic in personally relevant ways. It can suggest broader implications that will not only interest your reader, but also enrich your reader’s life in some way. It is your gift to the reader.

Strategies for writing an effective conclusion

One or more of the following strategies may help you write an effective conclusion:

  • Play the “So What” Game. If you’re stuck and feel like your conclusion isn’t saying anything new or interesting, ask a friend to read it with you. Whenever you make a statement from your conclusion, ask the friend to say, “So what?” or “Why should anybody care?” Then ponder that question and answer it. Here’s how it might go: You: Basically, I’m just saying that education was important to Douglass. Friend: So what? You: Well, it was important because it was a key to him feeling like a free and equal citizen. Friend: Why should anybody care? You: That’s important because plantation owners tried to keep slaves from being educated so that they could maintain control. When Douglass obtained an education, he undermined that control personally. You can also use this strategy on your own, asking yourself “So What?” as you develop your ideas or your draft.
  • Return to the theme or themes in the introduction. This strategy brings the reader full circle. For example, if you begin by describing a scenario, you can end with the same scenario as proof that your essay is helpful in creating a new understanding. You may also refer to the introductory paragraph by using key words or parallel concepts and images that you also used in the introduction.
  • Synthesize, don’t summarize. Include a brief summary of the paper’s main points, but don’t simply repeat things that were in your paper. Instead, show your reader how the points you made and the support and examples you used fit together. Pull it all together.
  • Include a provocative insight or quotation from the research or reading you did for your paper.
  • Propose a course of action, a solution to an issue, or questions for further study. This can redirect your reader’s thought process and help them to apply your info and ideas to their own life or to see the broader implications.
  • Point to broader implications. For example, if your paper examines the Greensboro sit-ins or another event in the Civil Rights Movement, you could point out its impact on the Civil Rights Movement as a whole. A paper about the style of writer Virginia Woolf could point to her influence on other writers or on later feminists.

Strategies to avoid

  • Beginning with an unnecessary, overused phrase such as “in conclusion,” “in summary,” or “in closing.” Although these phrases can work in speeches, they come across as wooden and trite in writing.
  • Stating the thesis for the very first time in the conclusion.
  • Introducing a new idea or subtopic in your conclusion.
  • Ending with a rephrased thesis statement without any substantive changes.
  • Making sentimental, emotional appeals that are out of character with the rest of an analytical paper.
  • Including evidence (quotations, statistics, etc.) that should be in the body of the paper.

Four kinds of ineffective conclusions

  • The “That’s My Story and I’m Sticking to It” Conclusion. This conclusion just restates the thesis and is usually painfully short. It does not push the ideas forward. People write this kind of conclusion when they can’t think of anything else to say. Example: In conclusion, Frederick Douglass was, as we have seen, a pioneer in American education, proving that education was a major force for social change with regard to slavery.
  • The “Sherlock Holmes” Conclusion. Sometimes writers will state the thesis for the very first time in the conclusion. You might be tempted to use this strategy if you don’t want to give everything away too early in your paper. You may think it would be more dramatic to keep the reader in the dark until the end and then “wow” them with your main idea, as in a Sherlock Holmes mystery. The reader, however, does not expect a mystery, but an analytical discussion of your topic in an academic style, with the main argument (thesis) stated up front. Example: (After a paper that lists numerous incidents from the book but never says what these incidents reveal about Douglass and his views on education): So, as the evidence above demonstrates, Douglass saw education as a way to undermine the slaveholders’ power and also an important step toward freedom.
  • The “America the Beautiful”/”I Am Woman”/”We Shall Overcome” Conclusion. This kind of conclusion usually draws on emotion to make its appeal, but while this emotion and even sentimentality may be very heartfelt, it is usually out of character with the rest of an analytical paper. A more sophisticated commentary, rather than emotional praise, would be a more fitting tribute to the topic. Example: Because of the efforts of fine Americans like Frederick Douglass, countless others have seen the shining beacon of light that is education. His example was a torch that lit the way for others. Frederick Douglass was truly an American hero.
  • The “Grab Bag” Conclusion. This kind of conclusion includes extra information that the writer found or thought of but couldn’t integrate into the main paper. You may find it hard to leave out details that you discovered after hours of research and thought, but adding random facts and bits of evidence at the end of an otherwise-well-organized essay can just create confusion. Example: In addition to being an educational pioneer, Frederick Douglass provides an interesting case study for masculinity in the American South. He also offers historians an interesting glimpse into slave resistance when he confronts Covey, the overseer. His relationships with female relatives reveal the importance of family in the slave community.

Works consulted

We consulted these works while writing this handout. This is not a comprehensive list of resources on the handout’s topic, and we encourage you to do your own research to find additional publications. Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your own reference list, as it may not match the citation style you are using. For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial . We revise these tips periodically and welcome feedback.

Douglass, Frederick. 1995. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself. New York: Dover.

Hamilton College. n.d. “Conclusions.” Writing Center. Accessed June 14, 2019. https://www.hamilton.edu//academics/centers/writing/writing-resources/conclusions .

Holewa, Randa. 2004. “Strategies for Writing a Conclusion.” LEO: Literacy Education Online. Last updated February 19, 2004. https://leo.stcloudstate.edu/acadwrite/conclude.html.

You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout and attribute the source: The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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Home / Guides / Writing Guides / Parts of a Paper / How to Write a Conclusion

How to Write a Conclusion


In this lesson, you will learn how to write a conclusion that follows from your argument.

Guide Overview

  • Writing conclusions
  • What goes into a conclusion?
  • Call to action
  • Restate your claim

Which do you pick?

  • What shouldn’t go in a conclusion
  • End product: a strong conclusion
  • Lesson conclusion

Writing Conclusions

When you write an argument, you need to make sure your reader walks away knowing exactly what your claim is and why it is correct. You can reinforce your claim one last time by writing a conclusion that supports your argument.​

For example, consider the following claim:

Animal testing is harmful to the animals tested on and is unnecessary.

What Goes into a Conclusion?

Your conclusion is the last thing your audience reads. It should relate back to your argument and leave your reader with something to think about.

Your conclusion may include:

  • A “so what” that explains why your argument is important
  • A call to action related to your claim
  • A restatement of your thesis or claim

Including a “so what?” in your conclusion helps your readers to see why your claim is important. ​It tells readers why your argument is relevant to their lives. You can add a “so what?” to your conclusion by returning to your original claim and asking, “so what?” “why is this idea important? ” Include the answer in your conclusion.

To support the claim that animal testing is wrong, you might say the following:

Animal rights is of concern to many people, but we often fail to consider whether the products we use were tested on animals or were made in a way that harms animals. As such, some animal lovers may not realize they are using products made in a way they fundamentally disagree.

Call to Action

A call to action rallies your readers to do something in response to your claim. If you are writing an argument about how climate change is caused by people, include a call to action at the end, asking your readers to make changes and fight back. A call to action helps readers to not only reflect on your claim, but also to walk away and do something with the information you’ve given them.

Going back to the example of your claim that animal testing is wrong, you might say the following:

Ending animal testing is as simple as purchasing products from companies that refuse to test their products on animals, and boycotting brands that do animal testing. For those hoping to take a larger stance against animal testing, writing letters or calling government representatives to express dissatisfaction with the practice can make a difference, as can participating in protests.

Restate Your Claim

The conclusion is the last thing your audience reads. This is a great place to restate your thesis and remind readers of what you are arguing and why. But remember, you don’t want to restate your thesis exactly, find a new way of saying it that ties in some of the evidence you’ve shared.

Here, you want to restate your claim that animal testing is wrong in different words. For example:

“The evidence above suggests that animal testing, known to be detrimental to animals, is also avoidable”
“While animal testing is widely known to harm animals, the myth that it is the best way of testing products has been dispelled through the evidence presented above.

Your conclusion can be made up of any or all of these three elements. You may want to restate your claim and tell your readers why it is important. Or, you could give your readers the “so what?” as part of a call to action.

Exactly what you include in your conclusion is up to you, but it should always relate to your claim and leave readers with something to think about.​

What Shouldn’t Go in a Conclusion

And remember, your conclusion should never introduce new information or claims. According to Chris Erat from the Clarkson Writing Center:

An effective conclusion allows the reader to reflect on the thesis statement after reading the supporting evidence.

End Product: A Strong Conclusion

Based on the points we’ve reviewed, a final conclusion about our animal testing claim may look like this:

Animal rights is of concern to many people, but we often fail to consider whether the products we use were tested on animals or were made in a way that harms animals. As such, some animal lovers may not realize they are using products made in a way they fundamentally disagree. Ending animal testing is as simple as purchasing products from companies that refuse to test their products on animals, and boycotting brands that do animal testing. For those hoping to take a larger stance against animal testing, writing letters or calling government representatives to express dissatisfaction with the practice can make a difference, as can participating in protests. While animal testing is widely known to harm animals, the myth that it is the best way of testing products has been dispelled through the evidence presented above.

Lesson Conclusion

In this lesson, you learned how to write a conclusion that leaves your reader with something to think about.

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Writing a paper: conclusions, writing a conclusion.

A conclusion is an important part of the paper; it provides closure for the reader while reminding the reader of the contents and importance of the paper. It accomplishes this by stepping back from the specifics in order to view the bigger picture of the document. In other words, it is reminding the reader of the main argument. For most course papers, it is usually one paragraph that simply and succinctly restates the main ideas and arguments, pulling everything together to help clarify the thesis of the paper. A conclusion does not introduce new ideas; instead, it should clarify the intent and importance of the paper. It can also suggest possible future research on the topic.

An Easy Checklist for Writing a Conclusion

It is important to remind the reader of the thesis of the paper so he is reminded of the argument and solutions you proposed.
Think of the main points as puzzle pieces, and the conclusion is where they all fit together to create a bigger picture. The reader should walk away with the bigger picture in mind.
Make sure that the paper places its findings in the context of real social change.
Make sure the reader has a distinct sense that the paper has come to an end. It is important to not leave the reader hanging. (You don’t want her to have flip-the-page syndrome, where the reader turns the page, expecting the paper to continue. The paper should naturally come to an end.)
No new ideas should be introduced in the conclusion. It is simply a review of the material that is already present in the paper. The only new idea would be the suggesting of a direction for future research.

Conclusion Example

As addressed in my analysis of recent research, the advantages of a later starting time for high school students significantly outweigh the disadvantages. A later starting time would allow teens more time to sleep--something that is important for their physical and mental health--and ultimately improve their academic performance and behavior. The added transportation costs that result from this change can be absorbed through energy savings. The beneficial effects on the students’ academic performance and behavior validate this decision, but its effect on student motivation is still unknown. I would encourage an in-depth look at the reactions of students to such a change. This sort of study would help determine the actual effects of a later start time on the time management and sleep habits of students.

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Cambridge Dictionary

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Meaning of conclusion – Learner’s Dictionary

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conclusion noun ( OPINION )

  • a logical conclusion
  • I came to the conclusion that I wasn't wanted .
  • He's come to the conclusion that there's nothing he can do about it.
  • I've come to the conclusion that this is a complete waste of time .
  • So you thought I was leaving , did you? What led you to that conclusion?

conclusion noun ( END )

Conclusion noun ( arrangement ).

(Definition of conclusion from the Cambridge Learner's Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

Translations of conclusion

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Word of the Day

null and void

having no legal force

Sitting on the fence (Newspaper idioms)

Sitting on the fence (Newspaper idioms)

conclusion is what

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So much is at stake in writing a conclusion. This is, after all, your last chance to persuade your readers to your point of view, to impress yourself upon them as a writer and thinker. And the impression you create in your conclusion will shape the impression that stays with your readers after they've finished the essay.

The end of an essay should therefore convey a sense of completeness and closure as well as a sense of the lingering possibilities of the topic, its larger meaning, its implications: the final paragraph should close the discussion without closing it off.

To establish a sense of closure, you might do one or more of the following:

  • Conclude by linking the last paragraph to the first, perhaps by reiterating a word or phrase you used at the beginning.
  • Conclude with a sentence composed mainly of one-syllable words. Simple language can help create an effect of understated drama.
  • Conclude with a sentence that's compound or parallel in structure; such sentences can establish a sense of balance or order that may feel just right at the end of a complex discussion.

To close the discussion without closing it off, you might do one or more of the following:

  • Conclude with a quotation from or reference to a primary or secondary source, one that amplifies your main point or puts it in a different perspective. A quotation from, say, the novel or poem you're writing about can add texture and specificity to your discussion; a critic or scholar can help confirm or complicate your final point. For example, you might conclude an essay on the idea of home in James Joyce's short story collection,  Dubliners , with information about Joyce's own complex feelings towards Dublin, his home. Or you might end with a biographer's statement about Joyce's attitude toward Dublin, which could illuminate his characters' responses to the city. Just be cautious, especially about using secondary material: make sure that you get the last word.
  • Conclude by setting your discussion into a different, perhaps larger, context. For example, you might end an essay on nineteenth-century muckraking journalism by linking it to a current news magazine program like  60 Minutes .
  • Conclude by redefining one of the key terms of your argument. For example, an essay on Marx's treatment of the conflict between wage labor and capital might begin with Marx's claim that the "capitalist economy is . . . a gigantic enterprise of dehumanization "; the essay might end by suggesting that Marxist analysis is itself dehumanizing because it construes everything in economic -- rather than moral or ethical-- terms.
  • Conclude by considering the implications of your argument (or analysis or discussion). What does your argument imply, or involve, or suggest? For example, an essay on the novel  Ambiguous Adventure , by the Senegalese writer Cheikh Hamidou Kane, might open with the idea that the protagonist's development suggests Kane's belief in the need to integrate Western materialism and Sufi spirituality in modern Senegal. The conclusion might make the new but related point that the novel on the whole suggests that such an integration is (or isn't) possible.

Finally, some advice on how not to end an essay:

  • Don't simply summarize your essay. A brief summary of your argument may be useful, especially if your essay is long--more than ten pages or so. But shorter essays tend not to require a restatement of your main ideas.
  • Avoid phrases like "in conclusion," "to conclude," "in summary," and "to sum up." These phrases can be useful--even welcome--in oral presentations. But readers can see, by the tell-tale compression of the pages, when an essay is about to end. You'll irritate your audience if you belabor the obvious.
  • Resist the urge to apologize. If you've immersed yourself in your subject, you now know a good deal more about it than you can possibly include in a five- or ten- or 20-page essay. As a result, by the time you've finished writing, you may be having some doubts about what you've produced. (And if you haven't immersed yourself in your subject, you may be feeling even more doubtful about your essay as you approach the conclusion.) Repress those doubts. Don't undercut your authority by saying things like, "this is just one approach to the subject; there may be other, better approaches. . ."

Copyright 1998, Pat Bellanca, for the Writing Center at Harvard University

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Definition of 'conclusion'

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March 26, 2024 - Baltimore Key Bridge collapses after ship collision

By Helen Regan , Kathleen Magramo , Antoinette Radford, Alisha Ebrahimji , Maureen Chowdhury , Rachel Ramirez , Elise Hammond , Aditi Sangal , Tori B. Powell , Piper Hudspeth Blackburn and Kathleen Magramo , CNN

Our live coverage of the Baltimore bridge collapse has moved here .

Crew member on DALI said everyone on board was safe hours after bridge collapse, official says

From CNN’s Amy Simonson

A crew member on the DALI cargo ship sent a message hours after the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed Tuesday saying everybody on board was safe, according to Apostleship of the Sea director Andy Middleton.

Middleton, who spent time with the captain of the DALI Monday, told CNN’s Laura Coates he reached out to a crew member after hearing about the incident Tuesday morning. 

He said there were 22 members aboard the ship from India who were setting sail earlier Tuesday morning and were heading toward Sri Lanka.

“I was able to reach out to a crew member very early this morning around 5:30 (a.m. ET) or 6 (a.m. ET) and get a message to them asking if they were OK,” he said. “That crew member responded within just a few minutes advising that the crew was safe, and everybody that [was] on board was safe.”

Middleton was told by the ship's captain Monday that the vessel was going to take a longer route to avoid risks along the Yemen coast.

“When I was out with the captain yesterday, we were talking while we were driving, and he advised that they were sailing down and around the tip of South Africa in order to avoid the incidents that are going on off the Yemen coast, and it was a safer way to go,” he said.

Middleton said the  Apostleship of the Sea  is a ministry to seafarers with members that spend time in the port and on the vessels as a friendly face to the seafarers that visit the Port of Baltimore, “taking care of their needs to make sure that they're reminded of their God-given human dignity when they're here in Baltimore.”

Search operation ends in "heartbreaking conclusion," Maryland governor says. Here's the latest

From CNN staff

The Dali container vessel after striking the Francis Scott Key Bridge that collapsed into the Patapsco River in Baltimore, Maryland, on Tuesday, March 26.

Six people, who were believed to be part of a road construction crew, are presumed dead after Baltimore's Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed early Tuesday morning. The collapse came after a 984-foot cargo ship hit the bridge's pillar.

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore told reporters Tuesday evening it's a "really heartbreaking conclusion to a challenging day."

Late Tuesday, it was discovered that two of the construction workers who went missing after the bridge collapsed were from Guatemala , the country's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said late Tuesday.

Here's what you should know to get up to speed:

  • The victims: Eight people were on the bridge  when it fell, according to officials. At least two people were rescued — one was taken to the hospital and was later  discharged , fire official and the medical center said.
  • The incident: Video shows the moment the entire bridge structure falls into the water, as the ship hits one of the bridge's pillars. CNN analysis shows that the  ships lights flickered  and it veered off course before it hit the bridge. Maryland Gov. Wes Moore said the crew on the ship were able to issue a "mayday" before colliding into the bridge, which allowed the authorities to stop incoming traffic from going onto the bridge.
  • Response efforts: Earlier, dive teams from various state and local agencies were brought in to assist in search-and-rescue operations, according to Maryland State Police Secretary Col. Roland L. Butler Jr.. The mission started with 50 personnel and continued to grow before the Coast Guard announced Tuesday evening that it was suspending its active search-and-rescue operation and transitioning to a "different phase."
  • The investigation: Authorities are still working to establish exactly how the crash occurred. The National Transportation Safety Board will look into  how the bridge was built  and investigate the structure itself. It will "take time to dig through" whether the bridge had ever been  flagged for any safety deficiencies , NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy said.
  • Rebuilding the bridge: US Sen. Chris Van Hollen said the path to rebuilding the bridge will be "long and expensive." Senior White House adviser Tom Perez told reporters Tuesday “it’s too early” to tell how long it will take to rebuild the bridge. President Joe Biden said Tuesday he wants the federal government to bear the full cost of rebuilding the collapsed bridge, noting that it will not wait for the company who owns the container ship DALI to shoulder the costs. Funding could come from the Federal Highway Administration as well as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, but it may require additional funding from Congress.

2 of the missing construction workers from bridge collapse were from Guatemala, foreign ministry says

From CNN’s Allison Gordon, Flora Charner and Amy Simonson

Two of the construction workers missing from the bridge collapse in Baltimore were from Guatemala, the country's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement late Tuesday.

Those missing included a 26-year-old originally from San Luis, Petén. The other is a 35-year-old from Camotán, Chiquimula, the statement said.

The ministry said both were part of a work team “repairing the asphalt on the bridge at the time of the accident.”

The statement did not name the two people missing, but it said the country’s consul general in Maryland “went to the area where the families of those affected are located,” where he hopes to be able to meet with the brothers of both missing people.

The consulate   also issued a statement Tuesday saying its consul general in Maryland "remains in contact with local authorities," and also confirmed that two of those missing "were of Guatemalan origin.”

Six people, who were believed to be part of a road construction crew, are presumed dead after Baltimore's Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed early Tuesday morning when a cargo ship hit the bridge's pillar.

State and federal officials have not released information about the identities of any of the six missing workers.

Underwater mapping of bridge collapse area to begin Wednesday, Baltimore fire chief says

From CNN's Jennifer Henderson

Search operations near the Key Bridge collapse have shut down for the night due to dangerous conditions, but the process of underwater mapping with many local, state and federal dive teams will begin Wednesday, Baltimore City Fire Chief James Wallace told CNN’s Anderson Cooper Tuesday night.

Wallace said the portion of the Patapsco River is “tidal influenced, so it goes through tide cycles just like the open waters of the Chesapeake Bay does.”

The water depths in the area under the bridge vary from 40 feet to more than 60 feet, Wallace said. The deeper the divers go, the colder the temperatures they encounter, and the visibility is zero, he added.

 Wallace said when crews arrived Tuesday morning, the surface water temperatures of the Patapsco River were about 47 degrees with an air temperature of 44-45 degrees.

Here's what you should know about the historic Francis Scott Key Bridge

The Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed early Tuesday after a massive container ship lost power and crashed into the iconic Baltimore bridge, sending people and vehicles into the frigid Patapsco River.

Six people, believed to be part of a road construction crew, are presumed dead and the Coast Guard has ended its active search and rescue mission.

Here's what you should know about the historic bridge:

  • How old?: The Francis Scott Key Bridge, also referred to as just the Key Bridge, opened to traffic in March 1977 and is the final link in the Baltimore Beltway, according to the Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA.) It crosses over the 50-foot-deep Patapsco River, where former US attorney Francis Scott Key found inspiration to write the lyrics to the Star Spangled Banner, the MDTA says.
  • How long?: The bridge was 1.6 miles long when standing, MDTA reports.
  • Traffic volume: More than 30,000 people commuted daily on the bridge, according to Maryland Gov. Wes Moore.
  • How much did it cost?: The bridge cost $60.3 million to build, MDTA says. Since its collapse, President Joe Biden said he’s committed to helping rebuild the bridge as soon as possible.
  • About the port: Baltimore ranks as the ninth biggest US port for international cargo. It handled a record 52.3 million tons, valued at $80.8 billion, in 2023. According to the Maryland state government, the port supports 15,330 direct jobs and 139,180 jobs in related services.
  • About the ship: The bridge collapsed after a container vessel called Dali collided with one of its supports. Dali is operated by Singapore-based Synergy Group but had been chartered to carry cargo by Danish shipping giant Maersk . The ship is about 984 feet long , according to MarineTraffic data. That’s the length of almost three football fields.

Baltimore woman says bridge collapse was "like a piece of family dissolved"

From CNN's Kit Maher

For longtime Baltimore resident, Ceely, who opted not to share her last name, seeing footage of the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse  Tuesday was deeply personal.

“I was very heavy-hearted,” Ceely told CNN. “Very tearful, thinking about the families whose loved ones may be in the water and just remembering when the bridge was constructed, and it was just like a piece of family dissolved.”

Ceely was at a prayer group Tuesday morning when she saw the news. She recalled being afraid when she first crossed the bridge while in Ford Maverick in 1975, but grew to like it because it saved time on the road.

“It was a main artery just like a blood line. It was a main artery to the other side of town. It was awesome. It beat going through the city all the time,” she said.

Elder Rashad A. Singletary , a senior pastor who led Tuesday night’s vigil at Mt. Olive Baptist Church told CNN that many church members watched the bridge's construction.

"It’s a part of the community. A lot of our individuals in our congregation drive that bridge to go to work, and so now it’s really a life changing moment,” he said.

"Heartbreaking conclusion to a challenging day," Maryland governor says as Coast Guard ended search operation

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

People look out toward the Francis Scott Key Bridge following its collapse in Baltimore, Maryland on March 26.

More than 18 hours after the collapse of the Baltimore bridge, Maryland Gov. Wes Moore said it was a heartbreaking conclusion after the Coast Guard ended the search-and-rescue operation for the six people who were on the bridge when it collapsed.

It's a "really heartbreaking conclusion to a challenging day," he said.

"We put every single asset possible — air, land and sea" to find the missing people, he told reporters on Tuesday evening. "While even though we're moving on now to a recovery mission, we're still fully committed to making sure that we're going to use every single asset to now bring a sense of closure to the families," the governor added.

6 people presumed dead after Baltimore bridge collapse, Coast Guard says. Here's what we know

As the sun sets in Baltimore, six people are presumed dead after a major bridge collapsed overnight Tuesday, according to the Coast Guard. The Francis Scott Key Bridge came down around 1:30 a.m. ET after a cargo ship collided with it.

The Coast Guard said it has ended its active search-and-rescue operation for the missing construction workers who were on the bridge when it collapsed.

  • What we know: Eight people were on the bridge when it fell, according to officials. At least two people were rescued — one was taken to the hospital and has been discharged . The Coast Guard has been searching for six other people. But, around 7:30 p.m. ET, the Coast Guard said it has transitioned to a “different phase” of operation, now it did “not believe we are going to find any of these individuals alive,” Rear Adm. Shannon Gilreath said.
  • About the ship: The bridge collapsed after a container vessel called Dali collided with one of its supports. The vessel is operated by Singapore-based Synergy Group but had been chartered to carry cargo by Danish shipping giant Maersk . The US Embassy in Singapore has been in contact with the country’s Maritime and Port Authority, a State Department spokesperson said.
  • The investigation: The National Transportation Safety Board is leading the investigation into the collapse. A team of 24 experts will dig into nautical operations, vessel operations, safety history records, owners, operators, company policy and any safety management systems or programs, said NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy. A voyage data recorder will be critical to the investigation, she added. 
  • Vehicles on the bridge: Officials are also working to verify the numbers of how many cars and people were on the bridge, Homendy said. Gov. Wes Moore said the quick work of authorities in closing the bridge had saved lives . Radio traffic captured how authorities stopped traffic and worked to clear the bridge seconds before the impact . Maryland State Police Secretary Col. Roland L. Butler Jr. said there is a “ distinct possibility ” more vehicles were on the bridge, but authorities have not found any evidence to support that.
  • Looking ahead: NTSB will look into how the bridge was built and investigate the structure itself, including if it was flagged for any safety deficiencies , Homendy said. The federal government has also directed its resources to help with search and rescue, to reopen the port and rebuild the bridge, Vice President Kamala Harris said . Earlier, President Joe Biden said t he federal government will pay to fix the bridge.
  • The economy: Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg warned the collapse will have a serious impact on supply chains . Until the channel is reopened, ships will likely already be changing course for other East Coast ports. Ocean carriers are already being diverted from the Port of Baltimore, where the bridge collapsed, to the Port of Virginia to “keep trade moving."

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What Is an End-of-Life Doula?

This emerging field of support honors death and dying for people and pets..

Posted March 31, 2024 | Reviewed by Ray Parker

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  • Find counselling to help manage stress
  • A new field of coaching supports individuals and families with death and dying.
  • An end-of-life doula can be called in before and during hospice or palliative care to guide.
  • They facilitate conversations about death wishes, create a peaceful environment, and offer grief counseling.
  • Pet ceremonies can create a healthy, positive relationship with the dying process for children and families.


While my family sits with our ailing father in the difficult time between life and death, my niece, Lindsey offered invaluable insight as a former hospice nurse. Her calm and open demeaner about the dying process, brought a palpable ease to the room. Upon hearing about her hospice experiences, I wanted to understand the role of a "death doula" and this new field of support.

"The appellation ‘end-of-life doula’ (EOLD) is increasingly used as an umbrella term to identify lay people, primarily women, who provide a diversity of non-medical supports—social, emotional, practical, and spiritual —for people nearing the end of life, including those close to them" (Krawzik and Rush, 2020). The term doula is derived from the Greek word "doule," which means helper or maidservant. Families hire death coaches to facilitate, guide, and emotionally support the dying process.

Nancy Telzerow, an end-of-life doula based in Ohio, says that she provides "a bridge to allay fears, communicate expectations, and gently walk individuals towards grace and peace with the dying journey, all while the spiritual veils are thin and close at heart.” Telzerow advised me to talk with my father continually, even when I am not physically with him. She suggested I share my excitement about his reunion with our loved ones who have passed. My Dad nodded and smiled when I mentioned that when we see an Irish flag wave, we will think of him.

The services provided by an EOLD may include:

1. Providing education and guidance regarding "do not resuscitate" orders and healthcare power of attorneys.

2. Creating an environment that allows for an open discussion about the dying process.

3. Supporting the patient's preferences in terms of environment and visitation.

4. Working alongside hospice and palliative care to ensure patient comfort.

5. Respecting the individual's faith practices and offering spiritual support.

6. Sitting with the patient and family during the final moments.

7. Providing supplemental grief counseling.

8. Assisting with funeral arrangements and exploring ways to share the individual's life and legacy following death.

Another EOLD, Ra Johnlynn, considers the window between life and death as a sacred opportunity. She notes that, similar to baby’s birth, “Only a select few are invited to witness and join the miracle.” Johnlynn sees her role as connecting the subtle energies and emotions of the individual and their family by creating a safe, grounded, reflective, and nurturing environment. She believes that just like time spent bonding with a newborn, this liminal time allows us to be more fully present with the soul or enduring essence of the person.

Nothing else matters, and there is nothing to be done except to sit with the presence inherent in each passing moment of passing. Johnlynn helps families welcome death with honor and reverence, trusting that the individual, whether awake or asleep, knows what is happening. In this way, she shares, “The beauty of death is reframed as a transformational teacher for all involved.”

Joyce’s Story

Joyce knew she was dying. Her 74-year-old body was rapidly deteriorating as the cancer spread. She was terrified to die. Her family found her anxiety unsettling, and in a hope for peace and, at the very least, acceptance, they called in Ivana Ustaritz, a death doula based in Boston.

At the initial meeting, Ustaritz explained to Joyce's daughter that her job would be to ease Joyce's anxiety, advocate for her wants and needs, and support the family in this challenging transition.

At first, Ustaritz rubbed Joyce's feet and hands with essential oils, encouraging her system to relax. Ustaritz asked gentle questions, allowing Joyce to express her fears. Ustaritz supported Joyce in connecting her impending death with the beautiful threads of life including the faith she had always carried deep within. Some days, Ustaritz would invite the connection through the breath. The air Joyce breathes automatically comes and goes, filling her body. Ustaritz says,

conclusion is what

"To sit with death, we sit in stillness. Here, everything settles into the presence beyond emotions. It is. We meet each inhale as we do life and each exhale as we do death. The pauses in between are where there is no difference."

Pet Passing

Ra Johnlynn, GoldEarthEnergetics/Used with Permission

Johnlynn also offers support to families as an end-of-life ceremonialist for pets , helping navigate the loss and grief. She believes that emotions are simplified with our pets because there is no “story” or pretense in the relationship. We more easily support their passing as a natural process. This shift in perspective invites the question, “How would you support your pet in having their very best last days with you? What could that look like?”

Johnlynn assisted one particular family in honoring their precious dog, prior to her passing. She facilitated two initial sessions with the parents and children to discuss death and where everyone thought the dog's soul and body would rest. The family shared stories about their furry friend. They talked about their dog's favorite treats, toys, and spots in the home, so that each family member could consciously gift these to their pet in her final days.

Together, they decided on a resting place for the dog and how they would honor her body by creating an outdoor memorial. In a follow-up session, the family joined Johnlynn in celebrating both life and after-life so that it was not anything feared. All emotions were allowed and expressed. The family pictured the pet's crossing as a welcome to heaven, and they memorialized the passage with flowers, crystals, songs, memories, tears, and hugs.

Johnlynn believes these pet ceremonies can help individuals develop a healthier relationship with death as a fluid, connecting, and intuitive process. “When we learn to support the transition with our pets in positive ways, we can apply that understanding to human death so we can receive the medicinal teachings of the death field more readily.”

I am so grateful to learn these perspectives while I honor the gifts of my beloved Dad’s life and death journeys.

Krawczyk, M & Rush, M. Describing the end-of-life doula role and practices care: perspectives from four countries. Journal of Palliative Care and Social Practice, 2020; 14:263235242097322.

Thank you to Lisa McCarthy who lovingly shared Joyce's story and the gifts Ivana provides. Thank you to all my doula friends who graciously offered their care and wisdom for me, my family, and this article.


Cheralyn Leeby, Ph.D., LMFT, has over 30 years of training and experience as a Florida Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She is an adjunct professor at the University of North Florida, Brooks College of Health, Department of Behavioral Health.

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Tractors lined up in a city street, blocking it

Crucial European Green Deal package staggers to legislative conclusion

Key policies to make Europe climate-neutral by 2050 are being weakened by looming elections and farmer protests

The European Green Deal is limping to the legislative finish line as elections loom and farmers continue to stage fierce protests across the continent.

The policy package, launched with fanfare by the European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, five years ago, is supposed to make Europe climate-neutral by 2050. But with elections in June, and polls suggesting some countries may take a swing to the right, the EU is gutting some of its key policies aimed at cutting pollution and protecting the environment.

On Monday, the European Council cancelled a vote on a law to restore nature after eight member states withdrew their support. The next day, it approved a proposal from the commission to cut some green strings on farming subsidies, which make up a third of the EU’s budget. At the same time, member states called on Brussels to weaken an existing law to tackle deforestation in countries from which Europe sources crops.

“It is hard,” said Virginijus Sinkevičius, the EU’s environment commissioner, who pointed to elections and farming protests as reasons for resistance to the final policy packages of the green deal. “But I do trust we will go through the finish line together with all member states.”

Not all of the environmental backsliding is about agriculture. An economy-wide law to tackle environmental abuses in supply chains barely passed this month after member states watered it down to cover a fraction of the companies for which it was proposed.

Farming has proved to be the most resistant sector to new rules. Agriculture pumps out at least 11% of all planet-heating gases emitted in the EU , many of which damage the heart and lungs when inhaled, and are a main driver of the destruction of wildlife.

While the continent’s emissions have stayed more or less steady for the last 15 years, efforts to rein in the damage to human health and the environment – or to make farmers and their customers pay for some of the pollution – have been met with fierce resistance. Honking lines of tractors, flaming bales of hay and stinking piles of manure have regularly blocked the streets of European capitals over the last few months as farmers have fought rules they say they can’t afford to follow. Green policies, as well as Ukrainian grain imports and a proposed free trade deal with South American countries, have borne the brunt of their anger.

Buoyed up by public support and appeased by politicians fearful of a rightward lurch amid rural voters, farmers have secured concession after concession from European leaders. They are, however, likely to pay a price for their success. Europe’s farms and fisheries are already suffering from a climate that has become more violent, and soils and waterways that have grown less supportive of life. In just one example of the unusual ways this is affecting daily life, people now steal more olive oil from Spanish supermarkets than any other food as droughts and recurring heatwaves ruin harvests and send prices of the “liquid gold” soaring.

Climate scientists say the picture for the planet is not all gloomy. Most of the policies that make up the European Green Deal, which has withstood the coronavirus pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, have already passed – though often in a weakened form after lobbying from industries and member states. The continent has some of the highest environmental standards in the world and has been able to encourage businesses to transition, even without the vast subsidies for clean technology available in the US or China.

The biggest threat to its success now lies with the possible collapse of the nature restoration laws , the fate of which hangs in the air. The proposal is one of the pillars of the green deal and it is unclear if Belgium, which holds the rotating presidency of the European Council, will be able to find a majority among member states in the coming weeks to provide what should have been a rubber stamp for an already watered-down proposal.

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Speaking at a meeting of ministers on Monday, the Irish climate and transport minister, Eamon Ryan, said retreating at this stage would be “disastrous” for nature and for public confidence in European institutions. “To allow this to go now means we’re going into a European election where we say the European system is not working, we do not protect nature, we do not take climate seriously.”

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Paul Krugman

Obamacare Is in Grave Danger, Again

A stethoscope sitting on a countertop.

By Paul Krugman

Opinion Columnist

Are you better off than you would have been 14 years ago? If you’re one of the millions of Americans who have an existing medical condition and don’t have a job that comes with health benefits, the answer is, overwhelmingly, yes.

Why? Because before the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare — signed into law on March 23, 2010 , although many of its provisions didn’t kick in until 2014 — you probably wouldn’t have been able to get health insurance. Today you can, thanks to provisions in the law that prevent insurers from discriminating based on medical history and that subsidize insurance premiums for many Americans. (These subsidies also provide healthy people with an incentive to purchase insurance, improving the risk pool.)

And President Biden strengthened the program, notably by extending provisions eliminating the cliff that cut off subsidies for many middle-class Americans.

But in the near future, you may well lose that hard-won access. In 2017, Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress tried to eviscerate the A.C.A. and almost succeeded in passing a bill that the Congressional Budget Office estimated would have left 22 million more Americans uninsured by 2026. There’s every reason to believe that if the G.O.P. wins control of Congress and the White House in November, it will once again try to bring back the bad old days of health coverage. And it will probably succeed, since it failed in 2017 only thanks to a principled stand by John McCain — something unlikely to happen in today’s Republican Party, where slavish obedience to Trump has become almost universal.

Before I get to the politics, let’s talk about what Obamacare has achieved.

During the Obama era, voices on the right made many dire predictions about its effects. They claimed that the law wouldn’t really expand coverage and that it would be a fiscal disaster and a job killer .

None of these predictions came true. The percentage of Americans without health insurance has fallen by almost half since 2010. Federal spending on health programs, far from exploding, has grown much more slowly than forecast. Back in 2010, the budget office expected outlays on major mandatory health programs to reach 10 percent of G.D.P. by the mid 2030s and “ continue to increase thereafter ”; it now expects that number to be less than 7 percent . As for jobs, the employment rate among Americans in their prime working years is at its highest level in more than two decades.

And Obamacare, initially a political liability for Democrats, is now quite popular . Indeed, the narrowly failed Republican attempt to gut the law probably played a large role in Democratic success in the 2018 midterm elections .

So why is this success story in grave danger?

First, it’s important to remember that Trump, aside from his venomous attitude toward immigrants and his protectionist instincts, has shown that he neither knows nor cares much about the details of policy. Last week he posted a screed about how an “INVASION” of migrants is “KILLING SOCIAL SECURITY AND MEDICARE,” which is both the opposite of the truth and a demonstration that he has little idea how even the biggest, most important government programs work.

When he was in office, Trump was putty in the hands of right-wing economic ideologues, who actually know how to write legislation that serves their objectives; practically his only major budgetary initiatives were a tax cut for the wealthy and corporations, which passed, and the attempted gutting of Obamacare, which fell just short.

And what we know is that even though Trump likes to portray himself as a populist, right-wing economic ideology still rules among congressional Republicans, who are as eager as ever to effectively destroy Obamacare. Last week the Republican Study Committee, which includes a majority of G.O.P. members of the House of Representatives, released a budget proposal that teed up many of the 2017 “reforms” that would have caused millions of Americans to lose health coverage. (It also called for down-the-road cuts in Social Security and Medicare.)

What I found striking about the budget proposal was how its authors deal with the fact that none of the dire predictions right-wingers made about Obamacare have come true. The answer is that they simply pretend that the bad things they predicted, which didn’t happen, did. I was struck, for example, by the assertion that Obamacare “dramatically escalated the unsustainable rise in American health care spending.” Indeed, in 2010, total U.S. health care spending was 17.2 percent of G.D.P. By 2022 that number had risen to … 17.3 percent of G.D.P.

So the reality of Obamacare’s success won’t deter Republicans who want to destroy it. If anything, the law’s success only increases their determination to kill it, because it shows that, contrary to their ideology, government actually can make Americans’ lives better.

And Trump will go along — he’ll egg them on — because making Americans’ lives better isn’t his primary objective.

Ultimately, right-wingers would like to rip up America’s whole safety net. But they’ll probably start with Obamacare; if they sweep this year, I won’t be surprised if the program is effectively gone by 2026.

The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. We’d like to hear what you think about this or any of our articles. Here are some tips . And here’s our email: [email protected] .

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Paul Krugman has been an Opinion columnist since 2000 and is also a distinguished professor at the City University of New York Graduate Center. He won the 2008 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for his work on international trade and economic geography. @ PaulKrugman

Is a robot writing your kids’ essays? We asked educators to weigh in on the growing role of AI in classrooms.

Educators weigh in on the growing role of ai and chatgpt in classrooms..

Kara Baskin talked to several educators about what kind of AI use they’re seeing in classrooms and how they’re monitoring it.

Remember writing essays in high school? Chances are you had to look up stuff in an encyclopedia — an actual one, not Wikipedia — or else connect to AOL via a modem bigger than your parents’ Taurus station wagon.

Now, of course, there’s artificial intelligence. According to new research from Pew, about 1 in 5 US teens who’ve heard of ChatGPT have used it for schoolwork. Kids in upper grades are more apt to have used the chatbot: About a quarter of 11th- and 12th-graders who know about ChatGPT have tried it.

For the uninitiated, ChatGPT arrived on the scene in late 2022, and educators continue to grapple with the ethics surrounding its growing popularity. Essentially, it generates free, human-like responses based on commands. (I’m sure this sentence will look antiquated in about six months, like when people described the internet as the “information superhighway.”)


I used ChatGPT to plug in this prompt: “Write an essay on ‘The Scarlet Letter.’” Within moments, ChatGPT created an essay as thorough as anything I’d labored over in AP English.

Is this cheating? Is it just part of our strange new world? I talked to several educators about what they’re seeing in classrooms and how they’re monitoring it. Before you berate your child over how you wrote essays with a No. 2 pencil, here are some things to consider.

Adapting to new technology isn’t immoral. “We have to recalibrate our sense of what’s acceptable. There was a time when every teacher said: ‘Oh, it’s cheating to use Wikipedia.’ And guess what? We got used to it, we decided it’s reputable enough, and we cite Wikipedia all the time,” says Noah Giansiracusa, an associate math professor at Bentley University who hosts the podcast “ AI in Academia: Navigating the Future .”

“There’s a calibration period where a technology is new and untested. It’s good to be cautious and to treat it with trepidation. Then, over time, the norms kind of adapt,” he says — just like new-fangled graphing calculators or the internet in days of yore.

“I think the current conversation around AI should not be centered on an issue with plagiarism. It should be centered on how AI will alter methods for learning and expressing oneself. ‘Catching’ students who use fully AI-generated products ... implies a ‘gotcha’ atmosphere,” says Jim Nagle, a history teacher at Bedford High School. “Since AI is already a huge part of our day-to-day lives, it’s no surprise our students are making it a part of their academic tool kit. Teachers and students should be at the forefront of discussions about responsible and ethical use.”

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Teachers and parents could use AI to think about education at a higher level. Really, learning is about more than regurgitating information — or it should be, anyway. But regurgitation is what AI does best.

“If our system is just for students to write a bunch of essays and then grade the results? Something’s missing. We need to really talk about their purpose and what they’re getting out of this, and maybe think about different forms of assignments and grading,” Giansiracusa says.

After all, while AI aggregates and organizes ideas, the quality of its responses depends on the users’ prompts. Instead of recoiling from it, use it as a conversation-starter.

“What parents and teachers can do is to start the conversation with kids: ‘What are we trying to learn here? Is it even something that ChatGPT could answer? Why did your assignment not convince you that you need to do this thinking on your own when a tool can do it for you?’” says Houman Harouni , a lecturer on education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Harouni urges parents to read an essay written by ChatGPT alongside their student. Was it good? What could be done better? Did it feel like a short cut?

“What they’re going to remember is that you had that conversation with them; that someone thought, at some point in their lives, that taking a shortcut is not the best way ... especially if you do it with the tool right in front of you, because you have something real to talk about,” he says.

Harouni hopes teachers think about its implications, too. Consider math: So much grunt work has been eliminated by calculators and computers. Yet kids are still tested as in days of old, when perhaps they could expand their learning to be assessed in ways that are more personal and human-centric, leaving the rote stuff to AI.

“We could take this moment of confusion and loss of certainty seriously, at least in some small pockets, and start thinking about what a different kind of school would look like. Five years from now, we might have the beginnings of some very interesting exploration. Five years from now, you and I might be talking about schools wherein teaching and learning is happening in a very self-directed way, in a way that’s more based on … igniting the kid’s interest and seeing where they go and supporting them to go deeper and to go wider,” Harouni says.

Teachers have the chance to offer assignments with more intentionality.

“Really think about the purpose of the assignments. Don’t just think of the outcome and the deliverable: ‘I need a student to produce a document.’ Why are we getting students to write? Why are we doing all these things in the first place? If teachers are more mindful, and maybe parents can also be more mindful, I think it pushes us away from this dangerous trap of thinking about in terms of ‘cheating,’ which, to me, is a really slippery path,” Giansiracusa says.

AI can boost confidence and reduce procrastination. Sometimes, a robot can do something better than a human, such as writing a dreaded resume and cover letter. And that’s OK; it’s useful, even.

“Often, students avoid applying to internships because they’re just overwhelmed at the thought of writing a cover letter, or they’re afraid their resume isn’t good enough. I think that tools like this can help them feel more confident. They may be more likely to do it sooner and have more organized and better applications,” says Kristin Casasanto, director of post-graduate planning at Olin College of Engineering.

Casasanto says that AI is also useful for de-stressing during interview prep.

“Students can use generative AI to plug in a job description and say, ‘Come up with a list of interview questions based on the job description,’ which will give them an idea of what may be asked, and they can even then say, ‘Here’s my resume. Give me answers to these questions based on my skills and experience.’ They’re going to really build their confidence around that,” Casasanto says.

Plus, when students use AI for basics, it frees up more time to meet with career counselors about substantive issues.

“It will help us as far as scalability. … Career services staff can then utilize our personal time in much more meaningful ways with students,” Casasanto says.

We need to remember: These kids grew up during a pandemic. We can’t expect kids to resist technology when they’ve been forced to learn in new ways since COVID hit.

“Now we’re seeing pandemic-era high school students come into college. They’ve been channeled through Google Classroom their whole career,” says Katherine Jewell, a history professor at Fitchburg State University.

“They need to have technology management and information literacy built into the curriculum,” Jewell says.

Jewell recently graded a paper on the history of college sports. It was obvious which papers were written by AI: They didn’t address the question. In her syllabus, Jewell defines plagiarism as “any attempt by a student to represent the work of another, including computers, as their own.”

This means that AI qualifies, but she also has an open mind, given students’ circumstances.

“My students want to do the right thing, for the most part. They don’t want to get away with stuff. I understand why they turned to these tools; I really do. I try to reassure them that I’m here to help them learn systems. I’m focusing much more on the learning process. I incentivize them to improve, and I acknowledge: ‘You don’t know how to do this the first time out of the gate,’” Jewell says. “I try to incentivize them so that they’re improving their confidence in their abilities, so they don’t feel the need to turn to these tools.”

Understand the forces that make kids resort to AI in the first place . Clubs, sports, homework: Kids are busy and under pressure. Why not do what’s easy?

“Kids are so overscheduled in their day-to-day lives. I think there’s so much enormous pressure on these kids, whether it’s self-inflicted, parent-inflicted, or school-culture inflicted. It’s on them to maximize their schedule. They’ve learned that AI can be a way to take an assignment that would take five hours and cut it down to one,” says a teacher at a competitive high school outside Boston who asked to remain anonymous.

Recently, this teacher says, “I got papers back that were just so robotic and so cold. I had to tell [students]: ‘I understand that you tried to use a tool to help you. I’m not going to penalize you, but what I am going to penalize you for is that you didn’t actually answer the prompt.”

Afterward, more students felt safe to come forward to say they’d used AI. This teacher hopes that age restrictions become implemented for these programs, similar to apps such as Snapchat. Educationally and developmentally, they say, high-schoolers are still finding their voice — a voice that could be easily thwarted by a robot.

“Part of high school writing is to figure out who you are, and what is your voice as a writer. And I think, developmentally, that takes all of high school to figure out,” they say.

And AI can’t replicate voice and personality — for now, at least.

Kara Baskin can be reached at [email protected] . Follow her @kcbaskin .


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