by Kailey Herbrich
Artificial Intelligence is gaining momentum in educational settings, promising to revolutionize student learning and teaching in an era of rapid technological advances.
In fact, 99.4% of 509 higher education institutions in the United States say AI in education and learning will be instrumental to their institution’s competitiveness in the next three years.
Embracing these AI-driven platforms has raised questions about equity and the impact on traditional teaching methods.
A major advantage of AI in the classroom is that educators can customize instruction based on individual student needs.
Ivana Milosevic, associate professor of management, he has witnessed a lot of advantages of using AI in her own teaching.
“We can use it to create interesting exercises, and I believe it will make the class even more interactive,” she added. “I think it's just simply gonna make the learning process easier in the sense that it's gonna make it more fun. And when it is fun, it interests more people.”
College senior Isabella Dapuzzo says AI has been particularly beneficial in helping her do research and understand terms that she’ll use in her planned profession - pharmaceutical sales.
“In pharmaceutical sales, there are a lot of big science terms and most times if I plug it into AI and tell them to summarize or simplify it, it gives me a better understanding of what I’m dealing with and prepares me for applying it in my job,” she said.
Milosevic says AI allows students to explore diverse information easily.
“It can be creative,” she said. “It can give you an option that you're not thinking about necessarily, and gives you a starting point.”
Dapuzzo said that specific ability - to provide more ideas and options - has been a tool she has used frequently for long essay prompts or other assignments.
“Playing around with AI about certain subtopics to generate a bigger idea definitely promotes my thought process,” she said.
Though AI brings potential advantages, there are legitimate concerns about AI’s effect on critical thinking skills among students.
Diana Turck, high school English teacher, said her main concern is that students will lack creativity at such a critical age because the computer will do the creative thinking and critical analysis for them.
“The excessive use of this type of technology can hinder development in traditional literacy skills and critical thinking,” she adds. “If students start to rely on AI, especially this early in their education, their discussions about literature will be dependent on what the standard generated response is on the computer, rather than what their personal takeaways were.”
Accounting student Linda Artusa agrees that AI could negatively affect students' problem-solving skills, specifically in accounting.
“When AI solves the problems for them, they don’t get to practice these skills on their own, affecting their ability to use accounting concepts on tests and in real-life,” she said.
Critics additionally worry about the dehumanization of the educational experience.
Artusa already notices that her accounting courses are starting to lack personalized learning opportunities.
“My assignments are all online platforms, which can sometimes be repetitive and leaves me confused,” she said. “Most times I have to email my professor a million times asking how to solve and understand the problem.”
Turck also believes students benefit from a more hands-on learning approach that AI cannot provide or replace.
“I think, if anything, our role as a human instructor only increases, as we have to set specific standards and examples for the students to follow regarding this technology,” she said.
Schools are also facing legitimate concerns about AI’s tendency toward plagiarized work. In a creative course such as English, which relies on students interpreting literature and writing about it, Turck says AI can be a dangerous tool.
“Teachers will have to trust that students are using their own ideas for their work, which is now made harder,” she said.
As a business professor, Milosevic, on the other hand, sees plagiarism a little bit differently.
“If you said, I've used the AI here, this is what it gave, these are the issues that are valid based on that report,’ it makes you more efficient. It makes you faster,” she adds. “ So, at least in business, I think if we give credit and we accept that credit, there's really no issue.”
Milosevic agrees it's important to take a well-considered approach when integrating AI into the classroom because it comes with both opportunity and challenge.
She thinks the future of understanding AI consists of two things - realizing it still makes mistakes and that it’s not a solution for every
“It's not applicable to all industries or fields,” she said. “It's a danger for some fields if not used responsibly.”
Turck also stresses the importance of defining AI’s appropriate and also harmful applications.
“My hope is that, as time goes on, we gain more knowledge on this technology, and teachers can get a better sense of how to integrate it properly in a way that will benefit the students,” she said.