Spotlight on SOTL: Blessing and a curse: The intersections of artificial intelligence and education
This article is based on the following research article:
Rudolph, J., Tan, S., & Tan, S. (2023). ChatGPT: Bullshit spewer or the end of traditional assessments in higher education?. Journal of Applied Learning and Teaching, 6(1). DOI: https://doi.org/10.37074/jalt.2023.6.1.9
As we emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us in the postsecondary education sector were looking forward to a return to normalcy in our teaching and learning environments. Then, BAM! We were hit with ChatGPT and other generative artificial intelligence (AI) technologies that changed the way that we approach teaching and assessment in postsecondary institutions. This article, published in January 2023, claims to be among the first peer-reviewed articles exploring ChatGPT and its implications in higher education. In this summary, we focus on the recommendations for instructors and institutions.
What did the researchers do and find?
The authors (Rudolph, Tan & Tan) reviewed literature on the topic of ChatGPT in postsecondary education, but because of the novelty of the topic, there were only two published peer-reviewed journal articles and eight pre-print papers available to review. In addition, they reviewed a variety of other sources, including academic books, book chapters, conference proceedings, blogs and website articles, and newspaper articles. As part of the introduction of the article, the authors helpfully provided a brief history of ChatGPT and OpenAI (the parent company of ChatGPT).
Next, Rudolph et al. discuss implications for ChatGPT in education. Notably, they examine the protentional value of ChatGPT as an intelligent tutoring system as an effective tool for personalizing instruction for students.
Another opportunity for using AI is to shift from assessment of learning to assessment as and for learning. In other words, moving away from assignments that simply demonstrates one’s knowledge and learning, to developing assessments that allow student to learn along the way.
They authors encourage instructors to think about AI tools as a mainstay in students’ lives, like calculators and computers. And rather than taking a policing approach to the use of ChatGPT and other AI tools, instructors should build in student education and cultivation of trusting relationships that encourages student-centric pedagogy.
How might you use this research in your teaching?
The article ends with recommendations for instructors, students, and institutions. For instructors, one way to avoid students submitting assessments that are generated by AI is to assess students in-person using pen and paper, presentations, and oral exams. Recognizing these assessment approaches are not always feasible, instructors could also ask students to write about topics that genuinely interest them where their own voices come through, and to include personal experiences and perspectives in their writing, which cannot be easily replicated by AI. The authors also ask instructors to consider incorporating AI tools into teaching and assessment, such as using AI tools to solve real-world problems related to the course content.
For students, the authors encourage students to “be aware of academic integrity policies and understand the consequences of academic misconduct”, and to “read widely and voraciously to improve critical and creative thinking” (p. 356).
Finally, for institutions, the authors recommend that education around digital literacy is critical in today’s world and should be included in the university curriculum. As part of this, institutions can “encourage, support and share research on AI tools’ effects on learning and teaching” (p. 356).
Fortunately, at McMaster University there are resources and teams working to help navigate the emergence of AI tools in the postsecondary context. The Task Force on Generative Artificial Intelligence in Teaching and Learning has a website noting their terms of reference and overall purpose – to provide strategic guidance and actionable recommendations for educators planning for fall courses. In addition, the Task Force published Provisional Guidelines on the Use of Generative AI at the beginning of June 2023. We invite you to explore the website and the guidelines, and to revisit it periodically to stay abreast of emerging information.
Stay tuned for the next Spotlight on SoTL coming to the MacPherson Memo on August 2nd.Spotlight on SOTL, Updates