How to use ChatGPT as a learning tool


As technology advances, psychologists may find new opportunities in the field and in education. But introducing new technologies like artificial intelligence (AI)—the simulation of human intelligence by computers—can feel daunting. For psychology educators in particular, the rapid advent of AI software called ChatGPT (and its updated version, GPT-4) has introduced new challenges — but experts say it has great potential to help students learn and prepare in new ways. Careers after college.

Launched in November 2022 by Open AI Company, ChatGPT is a chatbot software that integrates online information and conveys it in a conversational way. Like a search engine, ChatGPT can write Shakespeare-style poetry, give dating advice, and—especially for teachers—answer quizzes and write essays. Early reviews of GPT-4, OpenAI’s next major language model, indicate an increase in the software’s capabilities.

A New York Times An article from earlier this year showed instances of cheating with ChatGPT in college courses and how teachers are developing curricula to prevent academic dishonesty. Some schools are banning the technology entirely: Earlier this year, the New York City Department of Education banned the use of ChatGPT over concerns it could disrupt student learning (Huang, K. New York Times, January 16, 2023).

Some teachers, however, see ChatGPT as an opportunity rather than a threat. as if LA Times In the year Published in early 2023, psychologist Angela Duckworth, Ph.D., argues that bots should not be banned, saying that it and similar technologies are here to stay — and teachers should learn how to incorporate them into the curriculum (Los Angeles Times, January 19, 2023).

Many psychology teachers are experimenting with the software, realizing that ChatGPT is a useful tool for the real world where critical thinking is more important than rote memorization.

Just as we have a choice to use calculators in statistics class, here we have a choice to support or to flee. Kathy Hirsch-Pasek, Ph.D., is a professor of psychology at Temple University in Philadelphia. “We now know that people can learn using calculators, so the question is: How can we foster critical thinking while embracing what ChatGPT can do?”

Integrating any new tool into a classroom should be done judiciously, and ChatGPT is no exception. Instructors must consider ethics, plagiarism, and fairness as they do when integrating other technologies into their courses. But with the right approach, ChatGPT can be a useful — and, some psychologists argue, revolutionary — tool to prepare students for their future careers. Here are some insights from psychology educators about using ChatGPT to help students learn.

[From APA Style: How to cite ChatGPT]

Consider course goals

Each psychology course has different learning objectives. When deciding whether and how to incorporate ChatGPT into your course, consider your goals as your instructor. “There will be classrooms where using GPT is inappropriate for teaching, but in other settings, it can be a valuable learning tool,” he said. Daniel OppenheimerPhD, is a professor of psychology at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

Ask yourself: What are you trying to teach your students, and what skills are you hoping to measure? It may help to think of ChatGPT as a calculator. If you’re teaching simple addition, a calculator can get in the way of learning. But in a calculus course, the same tool can free up cognitive resources to help students work on the advanced skills they need to learn.

“Now that we have calculators, we can do math better and faster,” he said. Jaclyn Siegel, PhD, Postdoctoral Research Scholar and Adjunct Faculty Professor of Psychology at San Diego State University. “It’s hard to imagine the same situation happening in psychology, but maybe because we have basic facts at hand, we can think creatively.”

Likewise, if you’re teaching an introductory class, ChatGPT can pose a threat to students learning the basics. Spelling and grammar tools, for example, can be barriers to assessing whether students can write. But if your goal is to encourage good ideas, “other tools make essays easier to read and help teachers understand if students understand the material,” Oppenheimer said.

In departments where you have determined that using ChatGPT is impractical, it may sometimes be appropriate to use online proctors or programs that restrict access to ChatGPT.

Encourage critical thinking

ChatGPT provides quick and easy access to information, which you may find inappropriate in certain educational situations. But finding ways to incorporate AI tools into your course can help prepare students for the real world, where they need to apply concepts rather than simply memorize facts. Oppenheimer said, “We want to train students to think like psychologists instead of knowing what psychologists know.”

Bots can be better used to help students think more deeply about topics they already know, he said Gary Lupyan, PhD, professor of psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “Like talking to a colleague, it can be a valuable interactive partner in an area you know a lot about, so you can critically evaluate the suggestion without blindly copying it,” he said.

For example, Oppenheimer teaches a course on human intelligence and stupidity, in which he encourages students to compare text generated by GPT with text created by humans. Hirsch Pasek requires her honors psychology students to use ChatGPT for a first draft and to edit the second draft with critiques, corrections, and additions. “A great essay is not only about the synthesis of information, but also about the ability to support a thesis,” she says. “ChatGPT teaches students to ask better questions and then defend those questions, helping them become real scientists.”

ChatGPT can be used to stimulate classroom or laboratory discussion James W. Pennebaker, PhD, is a professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. For example, you can ask the bot why one theory is better than another. Then, ask again why the second theory is better. “Students can learn to appreciate other arguments and see both sides honestly before forming an opinion,” he said.

Using ChatGPT in your course not only encourages critical thinking about class concepts, but also empowers your students to learn through technology in a technology-centric world. Oppenheimer says, “We need to think about the world we are preparing our students to enter and what kinds of thinking habits we want to develop in them so that they can successfully represent the discipline of psychology. “This means knowing how to incorporate new technologies that you use in the real world into classroom practices.”

Be aware of the damage

All technologies raise concerns about academic dishonesty. If your students have access to computers during the exam, they theoretically have access to chatgpt. Note that because of how chatgpt integrates data, it can easily answer test questions. Avoiding multiple-choice tests can help solve the problem, but open-ended assessments can be difficult to grade, especially with large classes.

Lupyan cautions against overcorrecting your test questions to cheat the system. If you try to design tests with questions that ChatGPT can’t answer, you may miss questions that your students need to learn. “Synthesis and comparison are the kinds of questions you want to ask students, and the kinds of things these models are great at,” he said.

Implementing visible practices to reduce all forms of fraud may be more beneficial, Oppenheimer said. Be clear about your expectations for the class and encourage students to engage with the lesson. Breaking homework and papers together over time can make cheating more difficult, especially if you regularly give feedback that you want students to incorporate into their work. Just as important, offer support to students who struggle with the material.

At the beginning of the semester, take the time to explain why academic integrity is important to your class and beyond. “Tell them that cheating makes things easier for a while, but it’s short-lived, because they’re not really learning the skills they need in their careers,” Oppenheimer says.

Communicate expectations

As ChatGPT and other AI technologies develop, universities will develop official codes of conduct about their use. Until then, it’s up to you to implement and communicate expectations about how students can and can’t use these tools in your classroom. In the syllabus, provide specific situations when using them is acceptable and when it is not, and make sure your teaching assistants are on the same page.

If students are okay with using ChatGPT in some cases, Siegel emphasizes the importance of fairness. She teaches a large online course where she can’t keep students from using notes or searching online for answers. As a result, she conducts open-book tests and allows students to use the Internet or textbooks to answer questions. (She said it’s unfair to force students to put their cameras down during exams if students don’t have enough Internet bandwidth.)

Hunter introduces the entire class to ChatGPT so students know how to use it to prevent them from getting better grades. “Curves are based on averages, so everyone should have knowledge and access to the same tools and materials,” she said.

Try it

Before you decide how ChatGPT can help or hinder your student’s learning, spend time with it yourself. Try it out and see what it can (and can’t) do. If you’re not ready to bring technology into your course, use it for planning or management purposes. For example, Lupian recently asked ChatGPT to suggest topics for a writing grant, and Siegel used it to generate active lessons to teach about psychological research methods in a human sexual behavior course.

Whether you run a lab or teach a course, encourage your students to try it out for fun too. For example, Pennebaker students used ChatGPT to write haikus about psychological theories or rap battles between two famous scholars. “In education, the more people can get their hands dirty and play with ideas, the better they learn,” he said.

Be patient as the technology evolves. In the year In early 2023, chatgpt was intermittently unavailable due to the large number of users. Consider signing up for auto-notifications to find out when it’s available.

Navigating new technologies like ChatGPT can be time-consuming and even overwhelming, but taking steps to understand them can motivate you and your class. “I’m afraid of new things, too, but they give us a chance to grow,” Hirsch-Pasek said. “I’m all about trying to be the students we want our students to be.”

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