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Exploring Perspectives: Teacher and Student Sentiments on AI in Education

Updated: May 6

With the new developments in artificial intelligence, educators and students must question this new tool's potential consequences and successes.

Photo: Xavier Oates

By Monica Dao

When you decide to cook something yourself, that takes physical, human steps. You can go to the grocery store or a farmer’s market and pick up the food you would like to cook. You then have to clean your food, chop it up, and cook. Once you’re finished plating it, you can then, enjoy it. You’ve accomplished something yourself. You could have gone the easy route and bought fast food, but there is a simple, empowering joy about making your food yourself. This is how Jeff Goodman, a teacher for over 30 years, explained how artificial intelligence is taking the empowerment of working on things yourself from humans. In this new age of technology, humans are constantly learning and reteaching themselves how to maneuver and adapt to their new environment. Nowadays, the academic world faces its latest challenge, artificial intelligence. 

Discussing the use of new technologies has always been around. For an extreme example, after the creation of the atomic bomb, humankind needed to discuss the benefits and consequences of such a new technology. The same goes for artificial intelligence, especially in an academic environment.

Artificial intelligence works by combining large data sets with intuitive processing algorithms. It has developed into many different websites such as ChatGPT, Jasper, Midjourney, Synthesia and many others. These websites can write, solve mathematics, generate images, create videos and much more. These actions could be done manually by humans, but they have become shortcuts to help us or hinder us. 

Kelly Rhodes

Kelly Rhodes, the librarian of Appalachian State University’s Communication Department, expresses her wariness to the use of artificial intelligence saying, “I think it

can be very exciting, but we do have a responsibility to be talking about it.” 

In this conversation with Margaret Parker, a senior majoring in Public Relations, she believes that artificial intelligence should not be banned because, for her, it serves as a place to organize her thoughts, such as an information breakdown or a template for an assignment.

From other students, there have been mixed responses. Jillian Zeller, another senior majoring in Public Relations, said, “I do use AI but as a generator of ideas for different campaigns.” She explained that she often bounces ideas off ChatGPT, but her end product is always hers. Anne Spencer Pratt, a senior majoring in Biology, expresses “I don’t really see how it could assist me. Ban is a strong word, but we as students didn’t use it in the past, so why now? We use university for learning not artificial intelligence.” Within the student body, their belief in artificial intelligence depends on their majors and how it can or can’t be applied to their specific curriculum. 

Teachers need help with how to adapt to AI and what they should do about it. “AI is a tool. And like all tools, it changes our relationship to each other, to the world,” said Goodman. Teachers worry about what the adoption of AI means for educational responsibilities and academic integrity. According to data from Forbes Advisor, 65% of teachers worry about plagiarism in essays, 62% worry about reduced human interaction, 42% worry about data privacy, 30% worry about loss of jobs, 30% worry about unequal access to AI resources and 23% worry about the automation of manual tasks. “[AI] would be at odds with my profession and my personal experience,” Rhodes ended her statement with. 

However, in another statistic from Forbes Advisor, 61% of teachers do believe that students should be taught a comprehensive, ethical use of AI in their educational work. Alongside that statistic, Veera Korhornen’s data says that 54% of Americans believe that schools should be teaching students how to use AI. Therefore, the majority of Americans and educators believe that AI should be accepted and discussed rather than banned.

“89% of students admit to using OpenAI’s ChatGPT for homework,” says Education NC Organization. Their statistic goes further stating that “48% of students admitted to using ChatGPT for an at-home test or quiz, 53% had it write an essay and 22% had it write an outline for a paper.” Teachers worry about the potential of cheating and plagiarism that students could use AI for but are attempting to try and harness AI for good.

In another statistic from Forbes Advisor, 60% of educators have integrated AI into their classrooms, leaving 35% have not and 5% were either not sure or preferred not to say. Teachers can use AI to improve and streamline their classroom responsibilities by using AI-based tools such as AI-powered educational games, adaptive learning platforms, automated grading and feedback systems, chatbots for student support and intelligent tutoring systems. 

For many educators, the question of artificial intelligence causes uncertainty. Even Matthew Hefner, an environmental data scientist for The Research Institute of Environment, Energy and Economics, said, “I think it’s wise to take precautionary measures. And, you know, to ask these questions and have these conversations. I don’t know what the best course of action is.”

Goodman has integrated AI into his classroom by using it to make thought-provoking, critical questions. For instance, if he wanted to teach his Elementary Education Science Methods class about heat transfer, he would ask AI to generate 10 open-ended questions about it. 6 out of 10 may be up to par with what his expectations are, but from there, he can become inspired to make the rest of the questions. Goodman’s beliefs are to use creativity and be empowered to finish achievements yourself to keep our humanity. He introduces those beliefs while he uses AI in the classroom. 

Let's imagine your students in your class really love Nascar … now, type, ‘generate 10 higher order thinking skills, open-ended questions for fifth graders about heat transfer that have to do with Nascar.’ And suddenly, it's like, …  ‘how would you redesign brakes, so that they would better dissipate the heat,’” said Goodman. “Transfer your ideas. … It was teaching them to both use it creatively, but also to discern what makes a good question. What makes a bad question, and also ultimately to internalize.”

In all, what matters most to Goodman is the experience and making of whatever you’re doing instead of letting a machine do it for you. It takes away from your enjoyment, learning and empowerment. 

According to Harvard studies and commentary, the school says to stop ignoring that artificial intelligence exists and start using it to classroom advantages in the same ways that Goodman did, such as “use AI alongside your students, teach students how to use ChatGPT tool questions and use generative AI tools to spark the imagination.”

Despite all the concerns about AI and how it may translate into cheating, loss of human interaction, job loss, etc. Educators are still confident in its benefits and learning how to use it constructively. People recognize that although this innovative technological advancement may pose challenges to our ethical and empowered work practices, artificial intelligence is here to stay. Educators and students must discuss how it can and should be used.

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