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ChatGPT's Influence on Higher Education

As ChatGPT takes the world by storm, some have begun to question if students in higher education will benefit from it (Photo by Grayson Morris)

ChatGPT, an artificial intelligence (AI) language model developed by OpenAI, has gained widespread popularity for its ability to generate human-like text in response to a given prompt. However, its use in higher education has raised concerns about academic integrity and the potential impact on student learning. To better understand the views of faculty members at Meredith College, The Herald interviewed Dr. Julie Schrock, Professor of Education and Professor Ashley Hogan, Creative Writing professor.

When asked about her first encounter with ChatGPT, Dr. Schrock said, "I first heard about it over the break between semesters on Twitter." Dr. Schrock also mentioned that there has been little discussion among faculty members about the AI software's existence and use at Meredith. "From my perspective, it is too new to evaluate its impact."

Professor Hogan first heard about ChatGPT in December 2022. "My understanding is that it is a computer application that uses artificial intelligence to perform searches, answer questions and create documents by taking user input and cross-checking that against public information on the internet." When asked about the potential impact of the program on higher education, Professor Hogan said, "I think it has the potential to do both [good and bad], depending on how we use it." She added, "With time, we may be able to find ways to incorporate it into our instruction and assignments as a tool that students can use in the idea- or drafting-phase of writing."

Regarding the impact of the program on their areas of work, both faculty members had similar views. Dr. Schrock said, "It has not influenced my work thus far." She added that many of her students' assignments involve analyzing what happens in classrooms, which ChatGPT cannot do. Professor Hogan mentioned that while she had experimented with inputting her assignments into the program, she found that "even if a student used ChatGPT for a writing assignment, they would have to tweak and develop the essay a great deal to end up with a strong essay."

When asked whether it is easy to tell if a student has used the software for an assignment, both faculty members agreed that they did not have enough experience to determine this. "The result I got when I experimented with the app did not read like most student writing and wasn't nearly as developed as I require," said Professor Hogan.

Both faculty members emphasized the need to explore how ChatGPT can be used as a tool to support learning, rather than how it can be used to police whether or not students are using it. "I have not, and don't intend to try, to police the use of it,” Dr. Schrock stated.

"My view is that, the stronger our AI gets, the more we will need human intelligence to understand how to use these tools ethically," said Professor Hogan, and "They aren't going anywhere, so we need to learn how we can use AI to enhance instead of replace learning."

This article was written in collaboration with OpenAI’s ChatGPT. The overall generation process involved a series of 13 questions and answers with the program, including the sending of full interview responses two times in order to generate a full article. This article also received standard content and copy edits per The Herald’s publication process.

By ChatGPT, an OpenAI software

Interviews compiled by Aminah Jenkins, Editor in Chief, and Freya Dahlgren, Associate Editor

Correction: in the print version of this article, Dr. Schrock is referred to as a member of the English Department. However, she is an Education professor.



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