Modern AI is a constantly evolving, data-based, form of intelligence that, with the development of human like characteristics and hitherto unseen precision, has taken the professional world by storm. However, as modern AIs scan arrays of research and data with breathtaking speed, the question arises of whether such a vast and adaptable tool makes research-based assessments negligible. In this piece, two Integrated Natural Science students provide their view on whether modern AIs supersede the rationale behind coursework examination.
Andrew Miltiadou (he/him) – AI undermines the need for coursework.
The number of ChatGPT users has skyrocketed since its initial release at the end of 2022, with an estimated 100 million active users and over 1 billion 1monthly visits. So why is this such an issue for schools and universities? Although the technological advancements shown by ChatGPT are staggering, there are major concerns over the effects on education, as the accessibility of such a powerful tool has led to increasing cases of undetected student plagiarism.
taking time to understand primary literature builds an understanding for the content
The main purpose of coursework is to test a student’s ability to think critically and proactively to complete a set task. They must motivate themselves to conduct research and critically evaluate complex literature. The emergence of ChatGPT undermines this rationale as students can simply just ask AI to form arguments and conduct topical research. Although tedious and draining, taking time to understand primary literature builds an understanding for the content, qualities undermined by AI that prevents the main job a student has, learning. AI prohibits students from grasping the intricacies and rationale behind a topic, defeating the purpose of doing coursework in the first place.
So yes, ChatGPT is a powerful and promising tool, but it needs to be treated as such, a tool. Its accessibility to students can be detrimental in the long term, making results from coursework uninformative and could subsequently promote laziness for the next generation of students.
Harriet Sharp (she/her) – AI should be embraced as a tool to complete coursework.
In a classically metronomic briefing for my SLS exams, one new slide entitled ‘artificial intelligence’ caught my attention. Our exams were all online and a month-long, where we were encouraged to use lecture recordings, research papers, and many more – but not AI. Doing GCSEs, I’m sure you’ve heard someone say, ‘I could just google this!’. University coursework permits students to utilise the vast range of knowledge and tools available at our fingertips, and to be marked on our application and understanding rather than our ability to memorise, so why shouldn’t AI bolster our toolbox?
AI could also provide access to understanding science, without the obstacle of money
I haven’t used AI to write any of my essays, but its ability to act as a highly specific search engine has helped with some coding projects that I, otherwise, would’ve spent hours on. With the inaccessibility of some research papers to those who don’t have the privilege of an ‘institute login’, or the cost of a tutor or websites such as Chegg, AI could also provide access to understanding science, without the obstacle of money. This ability to collate information quickly and increased accessibility can only enhance students’ work, making it a vital resource and empowering students to focus even more on understanding and application of their knowledge.
AI is a valuable tool accessible to students worldwide, and although it may not be encouraged, trying to police its use seems impossible. As AI rapidly develops, threatening to eradicate jobs and industries, does it not make sense to learn to use AI, rather than reject it? Utilising this efficient tool and learning with it can only enhance students’ work, perhaps leading to quicker progression in their studies and students should be educated in how to use it for their benefit. Coursework should be changed to suit this, rather than being used against it – perhaps it should be treated similarly to research papers, where you cite the AI as a source. Embracing this technology is the only way to allow education and exams to move forward and empowers an exciting future!
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