UDM studies ChatGPT and other AI tools

Academic institutions usually embrace the use of new technologies that can improve or streamline the learning process for both students and faculty.

However, the concept of artificial intelligence (AI) being used in the pursuit of a professional degree presents unique questions that schools and universities like Detroit Mercy are still grappling with.

One such tool, ChatGPT, is an AI chatbot that interacts in a conversational way and is capable of responding to an infinite amount of unique requests. According to OpenAi.com, “the dialogue format makes it possible for ChatGPT to answer follow-up questions, admit its mistakes, challenge incorrect premises and reject inappropriate requests.”

Practically speaking, students could use ChatGPT to write research papers, essays or any other assignment for them. It’s free and easily accessible online, creating an ethical dilemma regarding the way and extent to which it should be used, especially for universities hoping to facilitate the best learning environment possible.

“I’ve played around with ChatGPT a few times and I could definitely see how it could be looked at as an issue or a threat to the educational process if you were in charge of a university,” said Colton Graham, a senior Business major.

As has been discussed in several media outlets like The New York Times and Business Insider, ChatGPT and other AI tools have the potential to be abused by students or employees through specific prompts into completing assignments. However, these tools also have numerous benefits they could bring to those participating in higher education, if used moderately and ethically.

“I wouldn’t necessarily use AI to do my homework, however, it would probably be a helpful tool for studying or memorization before a test,” said Reece Rusniak, a senior Biology major.

Decision-makers at higher education institutions like UDM must decide how they will handle both the potential benefits and threats that AI tools bring to the educational landscape.

Earlier this month, UDM’s Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) held a roundtable, featuring faculty and professors, to discuss what they think the emer- gence of AI means to their field and hypothesize how it will impact teaching and learning.

“Much of the conversation was about the ethical use of these tools and trying to make sure that students are still receiving an educational experience in spite of the inherent challenges they present,” said L. Michael Verdusco, director of the CETL.

At the roundtable, Verdusco moderated a panel of faculty members on the discussion of AI meeting higher education, including Diego Arias (assistant professor of management, business ethics), Elena Garcia (writing program director, assistant professor of english), and Phillip Olla (associate professor, health services administration). The session included some education on AI, before moving into a more nuanced discussion of the differing impacts it can have on colleges and universities.

“I think this is really just the start of a conversation as we move forward…the faculty seem to be very open to the ideas of how this technology might be leveraged to enhance learning and the overall classroom experience,” Verdusco said.

Though AI tools like ChatGPT present a myriad of ethical questions for educators and students, higher education institutions will most likely have to adapt to these rapidly growing platforms. ChatGPT crossed one million users in its first five days after launch and currently has over 100 million registered users.

For higher education institutions, the potential benefits and detriments of AI tools like ChatGPT are undeniable.

However, members of the Detroit Mercy community and staff are working to better understand this technology and the various advantages and disadvantages they can present in the educational process. In doing so, faculty and students can work together to find the best ways of integrating AI tools in the classroom without stunting educational growth.