The 2023-2024 school year has started, which marks the second academic year in which educators are figuring out how to contend with ChatGPT.
To find out how educators believe ChatGPT affects students’ learning ability, and what they are doing to monitor or deter its use, in September, Intelligent.com surveyed 228 current high school teachers and college professors.
- 50% of educators are resorting to handwritten assignments to combat ChatGPT use
- 6 in 10 believe ChatGPT can help students learn; many indicate tool is a mixed blessing
- More than 1 in 4 say their school has no ChatGPT policy in place
- Older educators less likely to see benefits to ChatGPT
Two-Thirds of Educators Are Changing Written Assignments to Combat ChatGPT Use
Sixty-six percent of educators say they are currently or planning to make changes to the ways students complete written assignments in order to make it more difficult for them to use ChatGPT.
Of this group, 76% are requiring or will require handwritten essays, 65% are or will have students type assignments in class with no wifi access, and 87% are or will have students complete oral assessments along with written assignments.
Many Say ChatGPT Can Still Help Students Learn
Despite the majority expressing a desire to combat students from using ChatGPT for written assignments, many seem to view the AI tool as a mixed blessing. Responses imply that educators believe ChatGPT can help students study concepts from class but shouldn’t replace critical thinking skills.
Sixty-three percent say ChatGPT ‘somewhat’ (36%) or ‘greatly helps’ (27%) students’ ability to learn, while 24% say it ‘somewhat’ (19%) or ‘greatly hurts’ (5%) students’ ability to learn. Thirteen percent say it does not affect students’ ability to learn.
Write-in responses on this topic included:
- “It is a double-edged sword. It can help to generate ideas but students mistake that it can generate content wholesale.”
- “ChatGPT can support learning by offering information but could potentially hinder critical thinking if relied on excessively.”
- “It can be useful for developing concepts from courses into a thoughtful learning activity.”
- “I believe that students surrender their critical thinking skills to ChatGPT – it gives the impression that it has deductive reasoning but gives very rote answers.”
“It’s important to remember that ChatGPT will evolve and is only one of many large language models that can generate text or find resources,” says Professor and Higher Education Advisor Diane Gayeski. “Since AI tools will certainly be used in most professional contexts, it makes sense for teachers and professors to introduce their use as well as their limitations, just as they have with other ‘automated’ aids like spreadsheets.
“Some professors fear that students will merely use ChatGPT to create their essays, and neither learn appropriate research and writing conventions nor master the content,” Gayeski continues. “There have always been ways to cheat, especially if assignments are very general.
“For instance, a student can buy a well-written essay comparing various models of leadership based on important theorists from any number of websites. However, what can’t be bought nor generated by an AI tool is content that specifically relates to material presented in class, such as their textbook, assigned readings, or case studies.
“It also can’t generate content that requires the student to reflect on their own experiences and values. What these tools CAN do, however, is to provide a good start for a topic and eliminate the common problem of just freezing up staring at a blank screen. It can comment on drafts and find some common errors, saving the teacher many hours of commenting on typos or grammatical mistakes,” explains Gayeski.
Older Teachers Less Likely to See Benefits to ChatGPT
There was a notable difference in educators’ opinions of ChatGPT by age group. Only 48% of those aged 45 and up say ChatGPT ‘somewhat’ (33%) or ‘greatly helps’ (15%) students to learn, while 70% of those aged 25-44 say ChatGPT ‘somewhat’ (38%) or ‘greatly helps’ (32%) students’ learning ability.
More Than 1 in 4 Schools Do Not Have ChatGPT Policies in Place
When asked if their school has policies in place regarding student use of ChatGPT, 66% say their school does, 29% say their school does not, and 5% were unsure.
Additionally, 63% of educators say they have used AI detection tools to try to uncover if students are using ChatGPT for assignments. Among this group, 94% say they found the tools ‘somewhat’ (45%) or ‘very effective’ (49%) while 6% found them ‘not very effective.’
Of the group who did not find AI detection tools ‘very effective,’ 68% say the tools have failed to detect when students used AI on an assignment, while 47% say the tools have falsely detected AI use when the students’ work was original.
“I recommend that educators keep an eye on some of the tools that are specifically designed to improve student writing and research,” advises Gayeski. “For example, Grammarly is an application that can work within applications like Word or Google Docs to find errors and suggest stronger writing styles. It can be adjusted for various levels of audiences and tones, which can teach students how word and structure choices should be made depending on their purpose.
“Scite.ai is another powerful tool that finds references related to each other and points out whether the references support or refute the arguments of each other. This saves hundreds of hours of students having to go through each citation in an article that they are using to find related research and more importantly, it shows them if a piece of research they are using has some counter-arguments.
“I require my students to use these tools to conduct their research and support their writing of other business-related documents such as proposals for PR campaigns or text for social media. We reflect on how their various prompts have changed the output, and where using AI tools took them longer to incorporate than just doing the writing themselves. And of course, we also fact-check!
“There are many resources for educators to incorporate AI into their pedagogy, and these tools can create more personalized and engaging activities that can meet the multiple needs of learners,” she finishes.
This survey was commissioned by Intelligent.com and conducted online by the survey platform Pollfish. It was launched on September 6, 2023. 228 respondents completed the full survey.
To qualify for the survey all participants had to be aged 25 or older, employed for wages in the education sector with at least 11 employees at their workplace, have a household income of at least $25,000 per year, and at least a university degree.
Respondents were then screened to include only teachers and professors who work with students at the high school, undergraduate, or graduate level and have been teaching for at least one year.
To avoid bias Pollfish employs Random Device Engagement (RDE) to ensure both random and organic surveying. Learn more about Pollfish’s survey methodology or contact [email protected] for more information.