How ChatGPT Can Help Students Learn, Prevent Cheating

04 July 2023

Some educators worry students may use ChatGPT to cheat on schoolwork. The AI tool could write reports and computer codes. It could create charts that look like those done by humans. A growing number of American school systems have since blocked ChatGPT on their computers and networks.

Kui Xie and Eric Anderman are professors of educational psychology and educational technology. In their research, they have found that the main reason students cheat is their desire to do better in school. For example, some students want to get a high grade, and others want to learn all that they can about a subject.

The decision to cheat or not, they say, often relates to how schoolwork and tests are built and graded. It is not as dependent on the availability of technology to make things easier. When students can rewrite a report or retake a test, if they do not do well at first, they are less likely to cheat.

FILE - Illustration shows OpenAI and ChatGPT logos
FILE - Illustration shows OpenAI and ChatGPT logos

Xie and Anderman recently explained in The Conversation how teachers can use ChatGPT to increase their students' desire for learning and prevent cheating.

Here are their three ideas for doing that:

Treat ChatGPT as a learning partner

The professors' research shows that students are more likely to cheat when school assignments are designed in ways that push them to outperform their classmates. However, students are less likely to cheat when assignments lead them to work together and center on learning rather than getting a good grade.

Teachers can get students to treat ChatGPT as a learning partner. That can help teachers move their students away from competition and performance to teamwork and knowledge.

For example, a science teacher can assign students to work with ChatGPT to design a hydroponic vegetable garden. Students could use ChatGPT to discuss the growing requirements for vegetables and think of design ideas for a hydroponic system.

These activities are designed to improve knowledge rather than just earning a good grade.

Use ChatGPT to improve confidence

Research shows that when students feel confident they can successfully do the work, they are less likely to cheat. An important way to improve students' confidence is to provide them with many ways to be successful.

ChatGPT can provide those experiences by offering students individualized support and breaking down complex problems into smaller tasks.

Perhaps, students are asked to design a vehicle that can use gasoline more efficiently than a traditional car. Students who struggle with the project could use ChatGPT to break down the larger problem into smaller tasks. ChatGPT could suggest they first develop an overall idea for the vehicle before deciding the size of the car or what kind of fuel will be used. Teachers could also ask students to compare the steps suggested by ChatGPT with steps from other sources.

Have ChatGPT give supportive feedback

Research shows personalized feedback can improve students' self-confidence.

ChatGPT can be directed to deliver feedback using cheerful language. If a student does something incorrectly, ChatGPT may start a conversation with the student instead of just telling them they are wrong.

Here is a real conversation from ChatGPT: "Your answer is not correct, but it's completely normal to encounter occasional errors... Don't be discouraged by this small setback; you're on the right track! I'm here to support you and answer any questions you may have. You're doing great!"

This will help students feel supported and understood while receiving feedback for improvement. Teachers can easily show students how to direct ChatGPT to provide them with such feedback.

I'm Dan Novak.

Kui Xie and Eric Anderman wrote this lesson for The Conversation. Dan Novak adapted it for VOA Learning English.


Words in This Story

chart — n. information in the form of a table, diagram, etc.

professor — n. a teacher especially of the highest rank at a college or university

grade — n. a number or letter that indicates how a student performed in a class or on a test

assignment — n. a job or duty that is given to someone

classmate — n. a member of the same class in a school, college, or university

hydroponic — adj. a method of growing plants in water rather than in soil

task — n. a a piece of work that has been given to someone

efficient — adj. capable of producing desired results without wasting materials, time, or energy

feedback — n. helpful information or criticism that is given to someone to say what can be done to improve a performance, product, etc.

encounter — v. to have or experience

occasional — adj. happening or done sometimes but not often

discourage — v. to make less determined, hopeful, or confident