Updated: Oct 12
Concern is the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about AI. Teachers are trying to figure out how to adapt to a technology that abruptly upends the way they used to teach. Sticking to the old conventional method of asking students direct questions may no longer work because tools like ChatGPT can readily answer those questions. Its effect is not only felt in education. Professionals in every other field are still trying to figure out whether AI is a friend or a foe, not to mention their concern that AI will be the cause of the extinction of their jobs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that even the most vulnerable white-collar job categories — financial adviser, interpreter, paralegal — will keep growing through at least 2029. The thing everyone forgets with AI is that it can be part of the solution. AI can be used to help workers be better at the work they already have.
Human and AI Interaction
To prove this point, social scientists have just begun to explore the interaction of humans and AI in the workplace. Fabrizio Dell’Acqua, a postdoctoral research and teaching fellow at Harvard Business School and the Laboratory for Innovation Science at Harvard, in collaboration with Boston Consulting Group, recruited 758 consultants for an experiment. Some were given access to ChatGPT-4. The rest weren’t allowed to use any AI tools. Then the whole group was assigned 18 tasks for a made-up shoe company — ranging from idea generation and names for new sneakers to writing an encouraging memo to inspire employees. In his conclusion report, Dell’Acqua and his co-authors reveal that the consultants using AI did almost everything better. They were 12 percent more productive and 25 percent faster, and their work was rated 40 percent higher-quality by a human jury. Every consultant who used AI benefited, but the ones who gained the most were those previously identified as the worst performers.
The experiment also showed what happens when consultants decide to have “AI do my job for me.” The researchers created a question outside of ChatGPT’s knowledge base — which when consultants posed to ChatGPT it answered, like the confident dumb guy it sometimes is. Consultants who should have known better passed along GPT’s answer without scrutiny; it was the only task in which those working without AI outperformed their peers.
What Can We Learn For Education
Just by looking at this experiment we can infer a lot about student performance. When teachers are willing to incorporate AI into their teaching, students will benefit. In fact, underachieving students will benefit most. We can also infer that chatbots don’t have all the answers and relying on them blindly may result in incorrect responses. That should quell the fears of teachers who think that AI will upend education as we know it. If teachers assign students with projects they need to apply thought into, students cannot blindly use AI to get all the answers. AI can be a great help in performing their tasks, but it will not eliminate the need for students to apply thinking and invest effort into their project.
How Can AI Improve K-12 Education
Many studies have been conducted to determine the effectiveness of AI on student learning. In a systematic review and meta-analysis that have been conducted by professors in three Spanish universities, the authors found that AI and computational sciences had a positive impact on student performance, finding a rise in their attitude towards learning and their motivation, especially in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) areas. These findings are consistent at all educational stages.
For students, AI provides a personalized learning experience tailored to their individual preferences and needs, immediate feedback on their work and answers to their questions, as well as increased access to tutoring and other educational materials. For teachers, it can help automate some of their workload, design better interventions, and reduce burnout.
Although teachers fear that greater use of AI in the classroom will eliminate jobs for teachers or invade student privacy, the fundamental purpose of AI in schools is to improve the quality of education for students. Personalized learning powered by AI provides a unique opportunity to close learning gaps between students in lower-income schools and those in wealthier ones, as well as improve educational outcomes for all students, regardless of income. AI applications can expedite student progress and increase engagement in the classroom, by tailoring instruction to students’ learning styles and areas of weakness.
Schools frequently “teach to the middle” and design lesson plans around the average student in a class. AI educational tools allow more personalization in the classroom through dynamic adjustments to content and instruction based on students’ motivation and abilities. These applications incorporate class learning objectives, instructional approaches, and instructional content and output to create an individualized experience for each student. By increasing access to AI-powered classroom applications, including intelligent tutoring systems, intelligent digital assistants, and intelligent textbooks, students are provided with personalized learning and the expansion of educational opportunities for all. AI can also provide students with access to counseling and special education programs.
AI’s ability to make connections between disparate data sources helps identify areas where real-time interventions or additional assistance may be required. As a result, AI makes it possible to devise a tailored or individualized learning pathway for each student which is specific to them and designed to accommodate their strengths, weaknesses, talents and challenges.
How Helpful is AI For Underperforming Students
This type of help is especially beneficial for underperforming students. Many underperforming students are in danger of failing to graduate. The ability to identify and/or predict which students are in danger of dropping out — and to do so in time to make an intervention to prevent this — allows schools and colleges to marshal their limited resources in a more targeted and effective manner. AI’s ability to ingest data from a disparate set of unconnected data repositories — including learning management systems (LMS’s), student information systems (SIS’s) and records of attendance or behavioral reports — and to derive insights which can be presented as real-time alerts, is transformational for those students.
How Can AI Tools Help
As teachers are forced to transform their teaching methods towards a more thinking-based approach, AI can be a game changer for some of the more vulnerable parts of these assignments. For example, most students stumble when assigned to conduct research for a project. Students have difficulty conducting search correctly, identifying reliable resources, being able to navigate ambiguity, triangulate knowledge, and question the material that was found. There are AI-powered tools that can help them by searching the web for relevant content, offering suggestions to add new sources, crunching the content, offering a summary, extracting a list of common keywords along with all the images inside—and, to top it off, rounding up all the references to other work. This can free up students to focus on analyzing which materials will fit which parts of the project and how to analyze and synthesize everything they learned. All skills that require their executive faculty.
Managing tasks is another achilles heel that students frequently struggle with. Students get confused about how to prioritize tasks and synchronize tasks for all team members. AI can again provide great help. AI tools can build the entire schedule for students by synchronizing tasks based on task priorities and making following up on task completion much easier.
In a project, the exchange of ideas amongst team members is a crucial part of the project. Up until the advent of AI, student meeting conversations were usually lost. AI changed all that and there are AI transcription apps that can turn voice into text, letting students browse it later. This can help students be more present in their meetings and, at the same time, be able to thoroughly analyze the transcription later.
AI can also help students draft an effective presentation based on the students’ summaries of their project. To top it off, AI can also help students coach them to present their presentation in front of the class.
All this is great help for students in parts of the assignment that students stumble with most. At the end of this process, students will be using their executive faculties to come up with their conclusions and a description of their investigative methods. In fact, you can think about this entire process as a bunch of helpers (in this case it is AI helpers) that aid students by providing them with well filtered raw material that they can use to arrive at educated conclusions and recommendations for the problem they are trying to solve.