August 10, 2023

Students and AI: Balancing assistance vs. cheating

Whether you’re an expert in using ChatGPT or aren’t the biggest fan of AI (artificial intelligence) in general, one thing is for sure: it’s transforming education. Educators are using AI for good to help write lesson plans or even grade papers. And like any new technology, our students have already started navigating it too

Just like educators are struggling with the question of whether to allow AI or not allow AI in the classroom, students also have varying opinions when it comes to using (or not using) AI to help out with schoolwork. A recent study by the nonprofit Junior Achievement found that 4 in 10 teens aged 13 to 17 arelikely to use artificial intelligence to do their schoolwork instead of doing it themselves this coming school year.” 

As educators, tuning in to how our students feel about the newest technology and social media allows us to not only connect with them on a deeper level but empower them to navigate it responsibly and positively. Keep reading to find out more about students’ thoughts about navigating AI and how educators can empower them to use it for good. 

Students using AI… Cheating or harnessing the power of technology? 

Picture this: You’re a 10th-grade student who hasn’t started their paper for an AP English class. You have a tight deadline and are struggling to balance your schoolwork with life or extracurricular activities, so you turn to ChatGPT for help. You ask ChatGPT a simple prompt: “Come up with a five-paragraph outline for my paper on the history of literature.” In seconds, it generates a powerful outline for your paper. 

Do you think your students would consider this academic dishonesty?

It turns out that students, much like educators, have their own beliefs on whether or not using AI for school is considered cheating. In fact, a recent study found that “60% of teens consider using AI for schoolwork as cheating.” And they aren’t alone.

A survey from March 2023 found that half of college students also say that using AI for schoolwork is cheating or plagiarism. Yet, this same survey also found that 1 in 5 college students use it anyway. 

Educator concerns about students using AI for school purposes

In addition to students’ thoughts about AI, a recent EdWeek Research Center survey found that nearly half of educators say AI would have a negative or very negative impact on teaching and learning in the next five years. In a written statement, the President and CEO of Junior Achievement USA shared, “The misuse of AI to do all schoolwork not only raises ethical concerns, but this behavior could also shortchange many students’ educations.”

With so many educators having these same concerns about students using AI, some schools even banned ChatGPT around its initial launch. But this ‘scare and restrict’ approach isn’t the only path schools can take. 

Experts such as Kristen DiCerbo, the chief learning officer for the nonprofit Khan Academy, and Laura Tierney, founder and CEO of The Social Institute, offer a more positive spin on how schools can navigate ChatGPT and AI and say that educators can take a proactive approach and empower students to use the AI tool in their learning, and most importantly, how to use it for good.

TSI’s Take

Experts like Dicerbo or Tierney aren’t the only ones who think schools and educators should teach students how to positively navigate ChatGPT. In our #WinAtSocial Lesson Breaking down ChatGPT and the role of artificial intelligence in our lives, we found that 34% of 5th to 8th-grade students feel schools should allow ChatGPT and teach students how to use it well

So while educators and schools may be concerned about how students will utilize AI for schoolwork this upcoming school year, it raises an important consideration. Now more than ever, we need to teach and empower our students to navigate artificial intelligence chatbots and technology for good. When we educate our students on how to navigate AI positively, we take advantage of an opportunity to help them develop modern life skills they will carry with them beyond classroom walls. 

Looking to learn even more about ChatGPT and how students are using it? Check out our tell-all playbook to learn how to encourage them to use it in positive ways, how students are using ChatGPT, and its features here

Always stay up-to-date with the latest and greatest trends online by subscribing to our newsletter where we talk about trending tech and social media news weekly! In the meantime, check out our Instagram and TikTok @thesocialinst for tips, trends, and highlights when it comes to social media.

The Social Institute (TSI) is the leader in empowering students by understanding students. Through #WinAtSocial, our gamified, peer-to-peer learning platform, we equip students, educators, and families to navigate their social world – in the classroom and beyond, online and offline – in healthy, high-character ways. Our unique, student-respected approach empowers and equips, rather than scares and restricts. We incorporate timely topics about social media, tech use, and current events that are impacting student well-being and learning. #WinAtSocial Lessons teach life skills for the modern day, capture student voice, and provide school leaders with actionable insights. Through these insights, students play an essential role in school efforts to support their own health, happiness, and future success as we enable high-impact teaching, meaningful family conversations, and a healthy school culture.