Thomas Mennella, Western New England University – Student Perceptions of ChatGPT

ChatGPT is here, so how do students feel about it?

Thomas Mennella, associate professor of biology at Western New England University, finds out the answer.

An instructor and professor in higher education for over fifteen years, Tom was an early-adopter of the flipped classroom format and is intimately involved in active learning and innovating in the classroom. Tom has given training on the flipped classroom format to faculty across the US and internationally and has presented the flipped classroom approach at regional and national conferences.  Very recently, Tom has turned his attention to ChatGPT and related AI platforms and is exploring their impact on, and integration with, the college classroom experience for students and instructors.

Student Perceptions of ChatGPT

ChatGPT, and similar AI platforms, are generative artificial intelligence chatbots that can respond to a wide variety of prompts in a comprehensive way. The explosive rate of ChatGPT adoption and its potential for improper use by students has taken Higher education by surprise. In a recent study, I familiarized my students with ChatGPT, provided them with guidelines for its use, citing and fact-checking, and I then measured if student usage of ChatGPT improved their performance on college writing assignments, and surveyed students to determine their perceptions of this tool. My findings break down into the good, the bad and the ugly.  The good: fewer than 25% of students used ChatGPT for their writing assignments even when allowed and encouraged to do so.  Also, there was no difference in student grade performance between students who used ChatGPT and students who didn’t. The bad: more and more students are familiar with ChatGPT, over 90% would consider using AI on future writing assignments, and over 80% believe that this tool should be allowed in the college classroom.  The ugly: a shockingly high percentage of students view ChatGPT as “a source of information” and/or “a search engine”.  It is neither (approximately 20-25% of the content that ChatGPT generates is factually incorrect). As students move more rapidly towards using this tool – with or without their instructors’ permission – education as an institution runs the risks of students learning bad habits on their own – misusing this technology and misunderstanding its strengths and weaknesses.  It is in education’s best interest to move rapidly to integrate ChatGPT into our classroom instruction, to coach students on its proper usage in guided and deliberate ways and to prepare them for the AI-future that is undoubtedly on the horizon.

Read More:
[Campus Technology] –  Why Banning ChatGPT in Class Is a Mistake
[BRN] – Is ChatGPT Redefining Plagiarism? We Need New Rules For Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due