Artificial intelligence, especially ChatGPT, has made significant strides in recent years as it has become easier than ever to access – and transform the classroom.
“We live in a changing world, and these are tools that will be part of the mix, both for us as a faculty and for the students as they progress,” said Jacob Byl, an assistant professor in the business school. “We are in a time of uncertainty about how best to use them responsibly to prevent abuse. It’s scary but exciting to have these new tools at our disposal.”
Byl himself first integrated the use of artificial intelligence into his classes in the fall semester, when he ran the writing of submissions through a ChatGPT detector algorithm. In addition, he allowed students in his law and business classes to use the software as long as the students were transparent about the entire process behind the prompts they were using and any changes they made.
“The more exciting part is trying to responsibly incorporate it into coursework,” Byl said. “[…] What we are doing now is looking at how ChatGPT performed on these questions from this homework by looking at the ChatGPT results together as a class.”
In the context of a law class, the AI would give about 70% to 80% correct answers, with about 20% of the cases being presented by the AI, Byl said. Over the past month, the AI has learned and gotten better at recognizing that some interactions weren’t real cases.
“My goal with my students is to get them comfortable enough to see both strengths and weaknesses in using these types of products,” Byl said. “I think it’s going to be a part of their lives going forward, so learning how to use it responsibly will be important.”
In the context of economics, Byl believes that it will take time for artificial intelligence to understand the nuances of the field, but can help understand the more fundamental aspects like supply and demand curves.
Some advantages of ChatGPT for education would be that it can serve as a tool to improve writing, possibly as a research tool for sources, various topics and opportunities for investigation, and as an interactive learning experience e.g. For example, using a chatbot to simulate a conversation with a historical or fictional character, Byl said.
“I think the process of research is almost the pinnacle of academic achievement, so I figured it would be the hardest part for an AI bot to replicate in any way,” Byl said.
Some downsides to education that ChatGPT brings would be that students would not be able to develop independent thinking skills in the same way. Students could use AI to identify promising research topics, but it could discourage students from doing the research and using their thinking skills.
“It’s actually surprisingly good at summarizing an area of research in the literature and adding lines of inquiry to complement that research,” Byl said. “Not that it’s always right, but at least as far as bringing ideas goes; For my students coming up with a thesis topic, this might be one thing they consider using ChatGPT to narrow down those topics.”
Byl has been using ChatGPT as an option for students, but is willing to use it more frequently as the AI’s development progresses, while also wanting to maintain a balance to maintain those critical thinking skills.
“It’s a little bit wild west, and that’s exciting but also a little bit scary,” Byl said. “So far I’m having fun with it.”
Reporter Damon Stone can be reached at [email protected]