By Maria Radeva

Rapid technological advancement in the 21st century has influenced many sectors, including education. With over 100 million users, the new Artificial Intelligence tool ChatGPT (Generative Pre-trained Transformer) has gained significant popularity among students, teachers and researchers since its’ release in November 2022 (Council of the European Union, 2023). ChatGPT is a chatbot that uses Natural Language Processing to provide human-like answers to users’ queries and engage in natural-sounding conversations (Deng & Lin, 2022). ChatGPT is programmed to carry out complex tasks, such as writing articles, poems, essays and even original computer codes, as well as translating, summarising or expanding texts (Tate et al., 2023; Williams, 2023). Due to ChatGPT’s efficiency, students report utilising the tool for academic support and social and personal purposes (Forman et al., 2023).

The growing presence of ChatGPT in students’ lives has led to debates among educators and changes in educational practices. While some consider ChatGPT and similar AI tools the future of teaching and learning, others perceive them as a threat to developing core skills, such as problem-solving and analytical abilities (Baidoo-Anu & Ansah, 2023). As a result, several educational institutions have prohibited students from using ChatGPT (Sullivan et al., 2023; Elsen-Rooney, 2023). However, incorporating AI in higher education has shown the potential to improve student’s learning capacity and satisfaction (Opara et al., 2023; Forman et al., 2023). ChatGPT’s reported advantages and increasing influence on everyday life suggest that prohibiting its use might not be a practical approach. Instead, educators can benefit from examining ChatGPT’s impact on learning and teaching and providing regulations for its use (Baidoo-Anu & Ansah, 2023). Thus, this article will explore the benefits, drawbacks, and potential implications of utilising ChatGPT in educational settings.

Some of the ways ChatGPT can be employed to improve learning and teaching practices include:

Automated Essay Grading: Accumulating evidence suggests that educators can use ChatGPT to automate the grading process of essays, articles, and other forms of written coursework, leaving more time for different aspects of teaching (Kasneci et al., 2023). Some studies have found that deep-learning models could grade students’ essays with great accuracy and provide feedback resembling the one produced by human graders (Liang et al., 2018; Lu & Cutumisu, 2021). Therefore, educators can utilise the reports generated by such models to discern the strengths and weaknesses in students’ writing and attend to the areas where students face difficulties. This might allow teachers to target interventions more effectively (Kasneci et al., 2023).

Creating Learning Assessment: ChatGPT could assist academic staff and teachers in designing assessments (e.g., quizzes or open-ended prompts) that align with the lesson’s learning objectives and success criteria (Baidoo-Anu & Ansah, 2023). Since creating quizzes, monthly tests, and examinations is time-consuming, ChatGPT could reduce educators’ workload and improve the quality of questions by using a standard framework (Zhai, 2023).

Personalised Tutoring: Evidence suggests that ChatGPT has the potential to serve as a personal tutor to students. Cai et al. (2021) used a conversational agent based on a generative model to provide personalised math tutoring to students. The model generated feedback tailored to students’ mistakes, which Cai et al. (2021) argued could improve learning outcomes. ChatGPT has the potential to help students with their homework, assignments, projects and even math problems, enabling them to become more autonomous and self-directed learners (Mhlanga, 2023; Qadir, 2022). As ChatGPT can generate outlines for articles and other forms of writing, students can use it to help them organise ideas for their research and writing (Kasneci et al., 2023).

Interactive Learning: With the assistance of ChatGPT, teachers can design and integrate interactive classroom activities to enhance their pedagogical practices. For example, ChatGPT can create visual aids, such as presentations and worksheets, lesson plans and other educational resources. This can encourage teachers to deliver more dynamic and captivating lessons to meet students’ learning needs (Atlas, 2023; Hertf Educator, 2023). Rudolph et al. (2023) also claimed that educators could utilise ChatGPT’s features to adopt a flipped classroom approach and design creative teaching techniques. This would enable students to study in the classroom and remotely, empowering them to become independent learners. 

Despite the numerous advantages of ChatGPT, there are some concerns about its use in educational settings:

Academic integrity issues: Utilising ChatGPT can pose a challenge to academic integrity and credibility. If students fail to cite the use of ChatGPT or the sources in their assignments, this could lead to academic misconduct (Kleebayoon & Wiwanitkit, 2023; Thurzo et al., 2023). Recent studies found that sophisticated AI tools can bypass traditional plagiarism software like Turnitin. This might encourage students to submit the content produced by ChatGPT as their own (Khalil & Er, 2023). In fact, students who have used ChatGPT for their assignments are more likely to plagiarise than those who have not used the tool (Basic et al., 2023).

Masking learning deficiencies: Some researchers argue that using ChatGPT for educational purposes can hinder educators’ abilities to evaluate student performance accurately (Grassini, 2023; Sullivan et al., 2023). Educators might struggle to discern the student’s level of understanding of the learning material, resulting in the disguise of learning deficiencies. This can make it more difficult for educators to intervene early on and develop necessary intervention strategies (Grassini, 2023).

Ineffective development of core skills: Due to ChatGPT’s efficiency, students can create their work based entirely on its output without using their analytical and decision-making skills (Sok & Heng, 2023). Some researchers claim that using ChatGPT can impede the development of essential skills, such as critical thinking, problem-solving, imagination and research abilities (Kasneci et al., 2023; Sullivan, 2023). Therefore, using ChatGPT for educational purposes might negatively affect students’ academic and professional success (Sok & Heng, 2023).

Biased data: ChatGPT was trained on a large amount of raw, unpolished data, so some researchers argue against ChatGPT’s reliability and precision (Rahimi & Abadi, 2023; Sallam, 2023). The quality of ChatGPT’s outputs depends on the diversity of the data it was trained on. If the training datasets include biases, then the content produced by the tool will also be biased. Some biases include overreliance on studies on nations with high income or specific demographics (e.g., white men) and gender biases (Mbakwe et al., 2023; Lucy & Bamman, 2021).

Inaccurate information: ChatGPT is prone to producing false or misleading information, fabricating articles and using non-existing URLs and references in its responses (Gordijn & Have, 2023; Baidoo-Anu & Ansah, 2023). Furthermore, ChatGPT uses only data produced before 2021, making it difficult to rely on its answers for specific topics and recent events (Rahimi & Abadi, 2023; Hassani & Silva, 2023).

Current evidence suggests that using ChatGPT for educational purposes can have a negative impact on academic integrity, student learning and development. However, due to the influence of AI tools on students’ everyday lives, banning ChatGPT might not be a practical solution. Instead, educators should consider integrating the tool into the education system by appropriately adjusting teaching methods and strengthening the examination standards and regulations (Lo, 2023; Baidoo-Anu & Ansah, 2023). Therefore, assessment practices and institutional protocols should be developed to account for the academic integrity risks imposed by AI tools (Sok & Heng, 2023). For example, schools and educational institutions can explore digital-free options in their assignments by designing engaging activities, such as oral presentations, interviews, class debates and group discussions (Rudolph et al., 2023; Cotton et al., 2023).

Another solution might be to provide educators with AI-based plagiarism detection tools that can enable them to identify cases of academic integrity (Grassini, 2023). Furthermore, educational institutions can train educators to help them understand how to maximise and utilise the potential of ChatGPT in teaching (Kasneci et al., 2023). Students should also be taught how to use it effectively to get the maximum benefits of their learning without risking academic malpractice (Grassini, 2023; Villasenor, 2023). This could be achieved by proactively engaging with students in discussions about ChatGPT. Updating educational practices can equip students with the necessary skills to face society’s future needs (Huang, 2023).

In summary, AI tools like ChatGPT could lessen teachers’ workload and foster interactive and adaptive learning environments. This will leave educators with more resources to attend to students’ learning needs, focus on engaging in professional development, and provide personalised feedback and mentoring to each student (Cai et al., 2023). However, sophisticated AI tools like ChatGPT also pose challenges to traditional education and teaching, which can limit the development of students’ core skills (Sok & Heng, 2023). Therefore, these shortcomings should be addressed to ensure AI tools’ effective and ethical use in educational settings.

About the Blog Post Author:

Maria Radeva has been working for the University of Leeds for over two years. She supports undergraduate students in overcoming personal and learning difficulties and enhancing their learning experience in the School of Dentistry. She works closely with academic staff and institutional services to provide students with guidance on academic policy issues and referrals to specialist support services where necessary.

Maria completed her MA in Psychology in 2021 at the University of Dundee, where she undertook a Cognition module led by Dr Carolina Kuepper-Tetzel. Maria is passionate about writing, and her articles, short stories and poems have been published in The Magdalen (student-led), Psych-Talk (led by the British Psychology Society), Marketing Gazette and the Student Publication Association national magazine.

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