AI news
January 16, 2024

A Guide to Conversational AI for Academics and Students

What are the implications of ChatGPT for Higher Education?

Dr Ron Strand
by 
Dr Ron Strand

Much of the discussion about AI in academia this past year seemed to revolve around the negative aspects of AI. This statement is anecdotal, based on my experience. By negative aspects, I mean things like plagiarism possibilities and other forms of cheating by students, various ethical concerns, the often misleading answers provided by chatbots, and so on.

ChatGPT for Higher Education

So I was pleased to run across the book ChatGPT for Higher Education and Professional Development: A Guide to Conversational AI by Stephen Atlas, a professor at the University of Rhode Island.

The book can be downloaded for free from https://digitalcommons.uri.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1547&context=cba_facpubs

Generally, his approach is to work through the many ways ChatGPT can be used in higher education, both by students and teachers. While not ignoring the potential problems with the technology, the main focus of the book is how to use it.

AI Generated Summary

I ran across a new free tool the other day, Pensieve. A play on the words pensive, or thoughtful, and sieve, as in mind like a sieve. It can be found at https://pensieve-app.springworks.in/. You load a PDF into the app and ask it questions about the content. ChatGPT for Higher Education is 120 pages, and Pensieve handled it without a problem. The Q and A I had with the book is in the sections below.

What is the best use of ChatGPT in higher education?

One of the key uses of ChatGPT in higher education is brainstorming and writing help. The model can be trained to understand the specific style and formatting requirements of an assignment or paper and can provide suggestions and corrections to improve the clarity and coherence of the writing. This can be especially helpful for non-native speakers or students who struggle with writing. Additionally, ChatGPT can be used to generate text, summaries, and outlines, which can help students and educators save time and improve the quality of their writing.

What are the implications of ChatGPT for Higher Education?

The implications of ChatGPT in higher education are vast and varied. ChatGPT can be used to improve writing, communication, and individualized learning in higher education. It can be fine-tuned with a dataset of input-output pairs to generate more accurate responses.

Examples of how ChatGPT can be used for writing assistance include generating summaries, outlines, and suggestions for improving clarity and coherence. Examples of how ChatGPT can be used for communication include providing personalized feedback on student performance and facilitating discussions.

However, there are also potential risks associated with the use of ChatGPT in higher education, such as the risk of plagiarism if students use the tool to generate work that is not their own. Educators must ensure that the use of ChatGPT aligns with societal values and concerns, including issues such as privacy, fairness, and accountability.

Additionally, educators should provide training and support to students on how to use ChatGPT responsibly and ensure that its use aligns with the learning objectives of the course while enhancing student learning and engagement.

Should professors be concerned about students using ChatGPT to plagiarize assignments?

Yes, professors should be concerned about students using ChatGPT to plagiarize assignments. While ChatGPT can be a valuable tool for generating ideas and facilitating discussions, it can also be used to cheat by holding work and ideas that students did not generate as their own. This is a growing concern among educators, and some schools have responded by blocking access to the tool. However, the author argues that banning ChatGPT is not the right move.

Instead, institutions should embrace ChatGPT as a personalized teaching aid to unlock student creativity and prepare students to work with AI systems as adults. To reduce the risk of plagiarism when using ChatGPT, a number of measures can be taken. One effective approach is to educate students about the proper use of the tool, including the importance of disclosing sources when appropriate.

This can be done through workshops, training sessions, or incorporating information about academic integrity and plagiarism into the curriculum. Another way to reduce the risk of plagiarism using ChatGPT is to encourage students to think critically and independently when using the tool. This can be done by providing prompts that require students to analyze, interpret, and evaluate information rather than simply regurgitate the information provided by the tool.

Institutions must have clear policies and procedures in place for addressing plagiarism and ensure that students are aware of these policies and the potential consequences of violating them. This can include sanctions such as failing an assignment or course, or even expulsion in severe cases. Proper attribution is crucial when utilizing ChatGPT or any other language model. We must acknowledge the source of information and give credit to the creators of models.

It is important to ensure proper attribution and transparency when using ChatGPT in any context including research papers, presentations, online content, etc. Educators should also prepare for the implications of AI use, including ChatGPT on society and potential job market changes.

In conclusion, while ChatGPT can be a valuable teaching tool and research aid in higher education, it is important to take steps to reduce the risk of plagiarism and ensure that students are using the tool responsibly and ethically. Educators should embrace ChatGPT as a personalized teaching aid to unlock student creativity and prepare students to work with AI systems as adults.

How can ChatGPT be used to adapt course content to students’ learning styles?

ChatGPT can be used to adapt course content to students’ learning styles by providing personalized instruction based on their learning styles. For example, a student could ask ChatGPT to explain a concept in a way that is easy for them to understand, and ChatGPT would respond with an explanation that is tailored to the student’s learning style. This can help students who may struggle with traditional teaching methods or who have different learning preferences.

Additionally, ChatGPT can provide individualized feedback on a student’s performance, allowing them to focus on areas for improvement and improve their overall performance. By providing students with tailored content and instruction based on their performance and preferences, ChatGPT can help improve student engagement, motivation, and learning outcomes. However, it is important to note that personalization should be combined with other teaching methods and strategies for a more comprehensive approach to education.

Can ChaptGPT Create Analogies to help students better understand difficult concepts?

Yes, ChatGPT can be used by students to create analogies that make concepts easier to understand. Students can ask ChatGPT to provide an analogy for a difficult concept, and the model can generate a response that is tailored to the student’s level of understanding and learning style. This can help students who may struggle with traditional teaching methods or who have different learning preferences.

Additionally, ChatGPT can provide individualized feedback on a student’s performance, allowing them to focus on areas for improvement and improve their overall understanding of the concept. By providing students with tailored content and instruction based on their performance and preferences, ChatGPT can help improve student engagement, motivation, and learning outcomes.

How can ChatGPT and other language models be used to improve grammar and punctuation in student writing?

ChatGPT and other language models can be used to improve grammar and punctuation in student writing by providing automated feedback on common grammar mistakes, such as subject-verb agreement or sentence structure. These models can be trained on a large dataset of text with correct grammar and spelling and then used to analyze student writing and flag any errors.

Additionally, pre-trained models that have already been trained on large datasets of text can be fine-tuned on a smaller dataset of student writing to improve their performance and accuracy. This can help students identify and correct their own errors, improving their writing skills over time. However, it’s important to remember that these models should be used in conjunction with human judgment and expertise.

Give It a Try

If you’re interested in this subject, I encourage you to download the book. Thanks to Dr. Atlas for doing this work and making it available as a free resource.

Also, give Pensieve a try. It is potentially a good study aid and a resource for writers. It’s also free. I have no affiliation with the product and do not endorse it. This is solely for your information.