What are teachers and students saying about AI and education?
Posted: July 27, 2023 | Word Count: 876
When ChatGPT came on to the scene, it and similar generative AI platforms immediately began sparking heated debates among educators, students and parents about its potential to disrupt education.
A recent study from global learning platform Quizlet found that high school and college teachers and students (aged 14-22) who have used ChatGPT or a similar AI technology agree that it is an effective study tool, with students in particular responding that it helps them to better understand the material and study faster and more efficiently.
Generative AI will be on the minds of students and teachers as they prepare to head back to the classroom this fall. With this technology top of mind, here are some things to consider this school year.
Students study smarter, not harder, with AI
Those that claim the use of AI in the classroom hinders students’ academic potential can think again. Students who spend three or more hours a night on an average weeknight during the school year studying gave credit to ChatGPT and similar AI technologies’ ability to streamline studying by generating helpful resources like study guides. Other popular uses among students included conducting research and summarizing or synthesizing information. Twenty-six percent of students in this group also said that teachers have encouraged them to use AI-generated technology like ChatGPT while they study, whereas students who reported less than two hours of studying on an average weeknight during the school year were less likely to have a teacher recommend using this technology.
UC Berkeley student Sam Clement gives AI-generated learning a thumbs up, saying, “It feels like an extension of my brain, or a supplementary boost to my own thinking abilities.” He added, “Platforms like ChatGPT make studying engaging by allowing me to probe concepts over and over until I understand. It can feel like unlimited office hours, something invaluable to busy college students.”
Students also reported that AI-generated technology has had a positive impact on their mental health, with 73% claiming it helps reduce stress and anxiety, and 57% claiming it decreases their workload.
Teachers give it an “A”
High school and college teachers that have used ChatGPT and similar AI technologies for school cite the top four uses as research, generating lesson plans, summarizing or synthesizing information and generating classroom materials like tests and assignments. Nearly half of teachers agreed that the vast capabilities of AI have made their workload more manageable.
Maureen Lamb, Dean of Educational Technology and Innovative Pedagogy and a member of the Latin faculty at The Ethel Walker School, says, “The notion that tools like Google Bard and ChatGPT are essentially shortcuts focuses on the output rather than what we want the technology to help us achieve. It’s the same question teachers ask ourselves when creating assessments and exams. ‘What skill or concept do I want my students to demonstrate?’ If ChatGPT can provide a teacher with a lesson plan for the day or generate an essay prompt, then great. It gives teachers more opportunity to refine our teaching approach and challenge students appropriate to their unique needs.”
Students and teachers embrace AI in the classroom
Some students and teachers are already working together to set ground rules for using platforms based in generative AI at school and while studying at home. Thirty-seven percent of student respondents have had teachers or instructors talk to them about the proper use of AI technology as it relates to course work, and 60% of teachers say that students are proactively approaching them about using these platforms to enhance their studies. Teachers that have been approached by students about using ChatGPT or similar technologies say their students are either asking for permission to use AI-powered platforms, examples of proper use cases or instructions on how to use AI technologies.
Lamb, who embraces the use and exploration of new technologies in her classroom, says, “A strong and trusting classroom community was something we struggled to find learning virtually during the pandemic. We need to think about technology in the classroom now like we did then.” She adds, “AI should think with us, not for us. Now, more than ever, we should encourage students to trust the power of their own voices. While AI-generated technology is a powerful tool in our toolbox, human voices still hold a huge creative advantage.”
AI can help create equitable learning environments
Students and teachers see a future with limitless potential when learning and AI come together — 42% of all respondents categorized their attitude toward AI technology in education positively. Respondents that disagree with bans on the use of AI technology in schools say that it expands access to information, assists with studying and enhances creativity and critical thinking. Forty-eight percent of teachers predict that ChatGPT and similar AI technology will help students recover from learning loss that was caused by the pandemic.
“Personally, I love the technology and don’t think that its benefits to the classroom have been fully discovered yet,” Clement added. “AI-generated technology allows students to find learning solutions that work for them, and applies what works for them to any and every problem or concept they could need. Teaching students the proper way to use this technology will be key, but I for one am very optimistic about its future.”