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ChatGPT: The Pros and Cons of Using AI in the Classroom

The evolution of technology such as ChatGPT and artificial intelligence has always fascinated me, both personally and professionally. My background in technology is wide; my first presentation on this topic was in 2011 at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Paris, France.

I’m an early adopter of technology, and my research has also been featured on an NPR segment known as the Academic Minute. Since late 2022, I’ve been exploring and learning more about AI and ChatGPT.

What Is ChatGPT?

ChatGPT (or as it’s currently known, Chat Generative Pre-trained Transformer-4 or ChatGPT-4) is an advanced chatbot developed by OpenAI. It has been trained on a diverse dataset and can generate human-like text.

ChatGPT has numerous applications and with new uses being discovered daily. For instance, ChatGPT can perform different services such as writing assistance, translation and coding. Some people have described this tool as “like having a personal assistant to help with research and busy work.”

Related: Should Universities Embrace ChatGPT?

The Evolution of Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence has greatly evolved over the last few decades. Computer programmers used to have an adage when writing code: Garbage In, Garbage Out (GIGO). In other words, the quality of the output is determined by the quality of the information you input. 

The same principle applies to search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo, as well as our own University Library. When you’re searching for specific information, it is often necessary to refine your search terms so that the search engine will produce the results you want.

Over time, the quality of information put into AI tools like ChatGPT has improved more and more. That has allowed this AI tool to develop to the level of sophistication it has today.

Related: The Future of the Metaverse: Separating Fact from Fiction

Using ChatGPT in the Classroom: Advantages and Drawbacks

ChatGPT can be a very useful tool in the classroom. Here are some ways to use it for your academic writing and research:

  • Generating ideas and inspiration – Chat GPT can be utilized to search for specific ideas or to help you create an overview of the ideas you may have for your academic writing.
  • Offering suggestions for sentence structure and wording – ChatGPT can offer suggestions for proper grammar and spelling.
  • Summarizing complex information – With ChatGPT, you can begin with a question about very basic information, and each subsequent question you pose to GPT can add to the knowledge you receive in ChatGPT’s initial response. ChatGPT operates in real time, updating its database information as it learns new information.
  • Providing a starting point for research – If you don’t have a firm idea of what topic you want to research, then ChatGPT can provide you with some inspiration. Sometimes, random thoughts generated by ChatGPT lead to inspiring breakthroughs and creative thinking. Let ChatGPT generate ideas or suggestions, but always refine and expand upon them with your own research and insights.

However, there are also limitations and potential drawbacks to using this type of AI tool:

  • Limited knowledge – ChatGPT’s knowledge is limited to the data that has been put into it for training. It cannot provide insights on new research or developments beyond its existing data.
  • Plagiarism possibilities – ChatGPT might generate text that is too similar to its source material, leading to potential plagiarism issues. It’s important to fact-check and rephrase the generated content coming from a tool like ChatGPT.
  • Inaccuracy – ChatGPT can produce inaccurate or incorrect information, which could harm the credibility of your work.
  • Lack of critical thinking – ChatGPT can’t engage in critical thinking or provide novel insights. In academic writing, it’s essential to analyze and synthesize information from various sources. Relying too much on ChatGPT’s information will likely hinder your writing skills and critical thinking ability.

3 Tips for Using ChatGPT in Academic Writing

If you choose to use ChatGPT for academic writing, keep its pros and cons in mind and follow these tips:

  • Fact-check – Always verify the accuracy of the information generated by ChatGPT
  • Paraphrase – To avoid plagiarism, rephrase the generated content and provide proper citations.
  • Balance – Combine the use of ChatGPT with your own critical thinking and analysis to create high-quality academic papers.

    Plagiarism Checker Turnitin Now Can Detect AI-Generated Content

    When you’re writing academic papers, your work must be original. Our University uses Turnitin to detect plagiarism.

    As of April 4, 2023, selected universities – including our own – have received an extra tool in Turnitin. This tool will check your writing for the use of AI-generated content, such as the type of content written by ChatGPT. If Turnitin or your professor determines that your paper contains AI-written material, you may face adverse consequences.

    ChatGPT can be a useful tool for academic writing, but it’s important to be aware of its limitations. Use it wisely and always complement its suggestions with your own research and analysis. Good luck with your academic endeavors!

    Dr. Ronald Johnson is a professor in the Dr. Wallace E. Boston School of Business. A product of the military’s voluntary higher education system, Ron holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and management from the University of Maryland Global Campus, as well as a master’s degree in human relations and a Ph.D. in organizational leadership, both from the University of Oklahoma. Ron’s classrooms were in the United Kingdom, Germany, Saudi Arabia and Bosnia. He considers it his highest honor serving military students to help them reach their academic goals.

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