Nicholas Tampio, professor of political science: Learn to think for yourself
As a professor, I believe the purpose of a college class is to teach students to think: to read scholarship, ask questions, formulate a thesis, collect and analyze data, draft an essay, take feedback from the instructor and other students, and write a final draft.
Students could get fine grades if they used ChatGPT to “write” their papers. But they will have missed a chance to enter a dialogue with two profound thinkers about a topic that could reshape American higher education and society.
The point of learning to write is not simply intellectual self-discovery. My students go on to careers in journalism, law, science, academia and business. Their employers often ask them to research and write about a topic.
Few employers will likely hire someone to use large language models that rely on an algorithm scraping databases filled with errors and biases. Already, a lawyer has gotten in trouble for using ChatGPT to craft a motion filled with fabricated cases. Employees succeed when they can research a topic and write intelligently about it.
Artificial intelligence is a tool that defeats a purpose of a college education – to learn how to think, and write, for oneself.
Patricia A. Young, professor of education: ChatGPT doesn’t promote advanced thinking
College students who are operating from a convenience or entitlement mentality – one in which they think, “I am entitled to use whatever technology is available to me” – will naturally gravitate toward using ChatGPT with or without their professor’s permission. Using ChatGPT and submitting a course assignment as your own creation is called AI-assisted plagiarism.
Some professors allow the use of ChatGPT as long as students cite ChatGPT as the source. As a researcher who specializes in the use of technology in education, I believe this practice needs to be thought through. Does this mean that ChatGPT would need to cite its sources, so that students could cite ChatGPT as a type of secondary source according to APA style, a standard academic style of citing papers? What Pandora’s box are we opening? Some users report that ChatGPT never reveals its sources anyway.
The proliferation of free AI means students won’t have to think much while writing – just engage in a high level of copy and paste. We used to call that plagiarism. With AI-assisted plagiarism, this brings in the potential for a new era of academic misconduct.
The concern will come when students take higher-level courses or land a job and lack the literacy skills to perform on an exceptional level. We will have created a generation of functionally illiterate adults who lack the capacity to engage in advanced thinking – like critiquing, comparing or contrasting information.
Yes, students can and should use smart tools, but we need to hypothesize and measure the costs to human ingenuity and the future of the human race.