ChatGPT shakes up higher education

A recent study conducted by BestColleges reported that 22% of students have used AI tools like ChatGPT to complete homework assignments.

The study stated that of the 1,000 students included in the survey, 43% reported using ChatGPT or a similar application, and half of those students reported using the same program to complete homework assignments.

The study also stated that 57% of students considered the use of AI tools in homework assignments as cheating or plagiarism.

Lyss Welding, a writer and analyst for the BestColleges Data Center, said the way colleges adapt to AI tools and the shifting technological landscape may define the future of higher education.

Welding said with the shift to more online and asynchronous learning, some have begun to question the value of a college degree. She said with AI tools now available to the masses, colleges will have to work to remain relevant.

“I think another perspective of it is that technology is always changing and always updating, and an educator’s role is to incorporate that into the classroom,” Welding said.

The study reported that of students who have used AI tools on homework, 50% said they used AI on certain parts of an assignment while completing the rest themselves. Thirty percent said they use AI to complete the majority of their assignment while revising as necessary, and 17% said they use AI to complete an assignment in its entirety with no edits.

Sara Kellogg, associate dean of students, said the Office of Student Conduct’s process concerning suspected misconduct does not change with ChatGPT. She said faculty who suspect academic misconduct should refer cases to the office, which reviews the cases and applies classification and charges where necessary.

Kellogg said the university has only dealt with a few referrals for the use of AI so far. She said in most cases, faculty have provided clear evidence for their suspicion and students have admitted the use to their faculty.

Michael Bugeja, a distinguished professor for the Greenlee School of Journalism and Mass Communication, said society is currently going through a dramatic shift in both education and knowledge.

Bugeja has also previously written about the impacts of AI in the Iowa Capital Dispatch and Poynter. In Poynter, Bugeja argues that AI tools may bring about the death of the term paper.

In his commentary for the Iowa Capital Dispatch, Bugeja states, “Artificial intelligence operates on theft,” arguing that the prevalence of chatbots will transform education and consumerism.

Bugeja said since 2003, education has been influenced by technological innovation, which functions to surveil and sell to the general public. He said as more AI infiltrates higher education, many will trade the value of knowledge for the convenience of using AI tools.

“Then we’ll have another class of people who understand the value of knowledge,” Bugeja said. “Now in a college setting, they will all graduate at the same time–because we no longer distinguish between convenience and knowledge, because technology has infiltrated us.”

Bugeja said as the two classes enter the workforce, those who recognize the value of knowledge will have a stark advantage over those who value convenience.

Welding said one potential benefit of AI tools in academic settings is that they can encourage instructors and students to approach assignments more critically. She said AI can be a helpful tool depending on the nature of the coursework.

“For students who might get tripped up on writing their reports for reasons that aren’t because of their insight or the special knowledge that they’re bringing, a tool like ChatGPT and other tools that already exist just help students clean up their work or find the errors in their work,” Welding said.

Welding pointed out the survey found 40% of students said the use of AI defeats the purpose of education. She said while 40% is not a majority, it is a significant figure that represents a growing concern over the value of a college education.

“I think the bottom line is that prospective college students need to see a return on their investment when it comes to going to college, and how schools deal with AI is going to be part of that,” Welding said.