In recent months the topic of A.I in education has become increasingly prevalent due its possible implication in education — plagiarism being the most prevalent one. Startup company OpenAI introduced a long-form question-answering AI called ChatGPT that answers complex questions conversationally. GPT-3.5 was trained on massive amounts of data about code and information from the internet, including sources like Reddit discussions, to help ChatGPT learn dialogue and attain a human style of responding. Let’s outline what exactly is chatGPT, how students could possibly use it, and finally talk about the possible implications.
What is Chat GPT?
ChatGPT is a large language model (LLM). Large Language Models (LLMs) are trained with massive amounts of data to accurately predict what word comes next in a sentence. It was discovered that increasing the amount of data increased the ability of the language models to do more. ChatGPT has a remarkable ability to interact in conversational dialogue form and provide responses that can appear surprisingly human.
In simple terms chatGPT analyses data that it has from training to spew out the most accurate answer, which is determined through algorithms. Reinforcement Learning with Human Feedback (RLHF) is an additional layer of training, which helps chatGPT learn the ability to follow directions and generate satisfactory, human-like answers. I have outlined some ways students might consider using it.
ChatGPT does a good job explaining concepts that students might find unclear from the classroom. By specifying the prompt given to the A.I, the clarity of the answer could be specified. Student can also ask follow-up questions. Below I have provided example prompts to ask
- What are hash tables and how are they used?
- What is neurotransmission? (Or ask chatGPT to explain it to you like you are a 6 year old)
While the examples chatGPT gives are good and clear, they are not graphical as chatGPT is text generator not a graphical designer. For graphical stuff you should check out DALL-E.
Ask to generate problems for practice
One of my favorite use cases for chatGPT is to generate problems to solve. I know, I know…I could just ask for a solution, but I enjoy asking specific problems for specific topic.
- Generate a math problem that requires abstract mathematics to find a solution.
- Generate a coding problem that requires dynamic programming and heap sort to solve.
- Generate 5 hard equation balancing problems in chemistry.
I appreciate that chatGPT acknowledges its own faults.
At least students will know that all the information cannot be taken in face value. Some due diligence is needed and even ecouraged.
Outline, summarize, get key concepts of a paper
Asa student, I find it incredibly helpful that I can ask chatGPT to outline key ideas in a paper, I could even ask it to generate some quotes about a certain topic from the paper, and I can also summarize a paper for my annotated bibliography.
I began testing it out with a classic paper by A.Turing Computing Machinery and Intelligence from 1950. Quite frankly, chatGPT did a good job summarizing and outlining key points from the paper. It even included remarks on criticism the paper has received in order for me to be careful when using it.
I proceeded to ask for quotes in a vague manner. Saying, “List 5 important quotes from the paper.” I got back quotes that I would probably not use. I am looking for more context heavy quotes that I could analyze.
So, I was more specific second time around. I got a better result.
However, asking for page numbers was not possible. I get seeing a message that it does not have a paper so it cannot produce specific page numbers or that there are various publications and it might create confusion. I appreciate that it is trying to be as accurate as possible. I can always just use search functionality within a document. ChatGPT did the heavy lifting already.
Note that this doesn’t only have to apply for papers and journals. You can do that for books also. It does a great job with it. Don’t let anything limit you, just try out as many specific questions as you can. Use it to ask questions that pop in mind about a book and tell chatGPT to explain if that matches the themes of the book or not.
Convert notes into study guide
Iam the kind of person who jots down some quick keywords from the lecture. When I begin studying, I am not even sure what the theme was. I tried to come up with an example of some notes I would take and asked chatGPT to generate a study guide I could follow.
These are the scribbled down notes I would take.
And here is a possible study guide I would get back from my friend chatGPT.
Now that is exciting. All my poorly taken notes can be easily organized into study guides that I can then continue to fill in with links and more specific explanations. Perfect!
Note that you can just ask chatGPT to generate a study guide about a certain topic. More specific you are, the more you will get out of it. I would reccommend using syllabus from a course and ask chatGPT to generate a study guide based on that. I will probably try to do that.
Some other possibilities
The list of possibilities is virtually endless. You could just chat with chatGPT, you can ask it to summarize things, you could even ask it to generate plotlines for your next book. I listed few more possibilities that might be useful for students.
- Ask chatGPT to check you translation and let it explain what was wrong.
- Ask chatGPT to generate thesis statements, topic sentences, possible titles.
- Ask chatGPT to generate a list of papers, articles, books to use for your specific research topic. Beats scrolling around databases. I’ll do you one better: make it explain why this is a good source to use.
- Ask chatGPT to recommend movies or books to you based on a description.
- Ask chatGPT to generate ideas for what to do during your holiday.
- Ask chatGPT to recommend possible meeting times based on availability.
- Ask chatGPT to answer an email for you or list important information from the long email ( you have to specify what you want it to look for). Here is a article from medium that has this option as one of the examples:
Let’s talk limitation and pitfalls
The most common argument I hear against using chatGPT:
- ChatGPT can easily generate long papers. Students can just use this and submit it as their own.
While it is true that ChatGPT can potentially be used to cheat on writing essays, it is important to note that the ability to cheat in this manner is not unique to ChatGPT. Other tools and resources have long been used to plagiarize and cheat on written assignments. Here are few tools that are intended to help with writing, but are often used maliciously.
Writes paragraphs for you: https://tinywow.com/write/paragraph-writer
Writes essays: https://tinywow.com/write/essay-writer
Sentence rewriter: https://tinywow.com/write/sentence-rewriter
For a more comprehensive list of A.I tools that help with writing can be found here: https://tinywow.com/tools/write
It is important to remember that these tools are not inherently bad and were not designed for cheating purposes. They are intended to enhance the learning experience and improve the quality of work when used correctly. ChatGPT is a tool to aid in the writing process and can be used in various other ways as I have pointed out above.
By using these tools in a responsible way, students can improve their writing abilities and develop a better understanding of the subject matter. It is essential to remind students that the use of these tools should always be in accordance with academic integrity guidelines and should never be used to plagiarize or cheat. Argubly it is benefical to immedately get a list of 20 sources for your research instead of spending hours playing around with keywords. I can specify and request certain keywords and topics from chatGPT already.
In the end of the day it comes down how motivated the students are, how much they are inspired to improve, and how much benefit they see in improving. I never wanted to improve my writing until I began to see benefit in everyday interactions where literary intelligence sets me apart from the crowd. And that intelligence only comes through practicing writing and reading more.
Quick notes for using ChatGPT
While I was playing around and thinking of possible use cases for students, I realized the importance of being specific. I could ask it to write an essay about artificial intelligence; however, it wouldn’t be as interesting as I would want it to be. If I specify paragraphs I want, the writing style I look for, and even allow it to use idioms or anecdotes, the essay becomes far more exciting.
Be specific when you write prompts for chatGPT. You will get much more out of it.
Check out these articels about chatGPT:
Sources used for ideas and explanations
Some good sources according to chatGPT: