The student news site of Brookline High School

The Cypress

The student news site of Brookline High School

The Cypress

The student news site of Brookline High School

The Cypress

ChatGPT: the calculator of the twenty-first century?

Teachers have varying opinions on whether Artificial Intelligence is beneficial or harmful to students’ education. While it can be used as a tool for cheating, it also can help students with less access to resources.

ChatGPT. Wolfram Alpha. Wix. Framer. The vast capabilities of these websites put Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) right under students’ fingertips. This accessibility comes with risks of academic dishonesty. Some teachers are attempting to prohibit these applications, while others are discovering how A.I. could enhance the classroom experience. But it is undeniable that this technology is going to stick around and grow for years to come.

Many teachers fear A.I. due to students’ ability to use these resources to cheat. A survey conducted by The Cypress found that 54 percent of the 28 teachers who responded think that students should be exposed to less A.I. in schools, and over 20 percent have suspected students of using A.I. to cheat at least five times this school year. However, these new technologies have been met with vastly different reactions from teachers.

English teacher Sophie Gorlin does not see a role for A.I. in English classes. She said she has had to change some of the ways she makes assignments to accommodate for the possibility that students could use A.I. dishonestly. She said the assignments she makes for students to complete outside of school have to be more complex or creative, such that an A.I. could not do the work for the student. If that is not an option for a given assignment, she said she would have to shorten the assignment so that students could complete it in class where she would know they were not using A.I.

English teacher James McGarry said a student must be a good writer independently before they can use A.I. in a responsible and beneficial way. McGarry uses an application called Draftback, which shows him the history of the document and has allowed him to catch over five students using A.I. to cheat during the 2023-2024 school year. When he suspects a student used A.I., he has a conversation with them about why they did so.

“I think often students who are doing it are doing it because they feel like they don’t have time or they’re confused on some aspect of the assignment. So talking with them about what’s going on and how we can prevent this next time is really important. And then, unfortunately, under my policies, that falls under plagiarism, so the next step is a referral to the dean,” McGarry said.

Librarians Shelley Mains and Bridget Knightly are taking a year-long class along with other teachers about how A.I. can be useful in schools. The class is called “A.I. in Education” and is offered through a program called EdTech Teacher. They both said that A.I. is not going anywhere and that teachers need to adapt to this growing technology. Knightly has also found it helps students who have less outside support with their work.

“I think it levels the playing field. You have a lot of people here during college essay time. A lot of parents help their children or hire coaches to help the students write their essays, and then, you have students here who nobody helps them. They have nobody or English isn’t their first language and they just don’t feel comfortable maybe going to a teacher. So it helps them.”

Mains also said there are some negative impacts of A.I., especially if it is the only source someone uses to write a paper. She said it can be unreliable and inaccurate.

“It amplifies existing biases and historical biases and may tell you things that may have been corrected in the last couple of years that A.I. hasn’t caught up with yet. So that can be really problematic just in terms of the information that you get,” Mains said.

Mains and Knightly want to hold classes or help teachers by sharing the possible benefits and downsides that technology can bring. Mains said she thinks this could help teachers better understand the technology and allow them to potentially incorporate it into their lessons.

“There are some really great uses for A.I. in schools, both for teachers to use it and students to use it,” Mains said. “We think there needs to be guidance about which uses are valuable for instruction and which ones are probably more to be avoided in the schools. ”

Julie James, an Alternative Choices in Education (ACE) math teacher, said she thinks it is beneficial to teach her students how to use A.I. platforms in a way that can help them in the future. James said it is useful for kids to know how to use these platforms because in college there will be more complex problems where it could be useful to have this resource.

“In my mind, it’s like teaching your child to use a calculator,” James said. “It’s another tool that’s available that you have to be a little bit smarter than the tool if you really want to get what you want out of it.”

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