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How can students effectively use AI?

How can students effectively use AI?

4 min read
  • Phones & technology

In a short time, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has emerged as a transformative force in many areas. But what does it hold for education?

Students are bound to use AI, whether we adopt it formally in classroom or not. This inevitability presents an opportunity for educators to guide students towards an effective and efficient use of AI, ensuring that it serves as a stepping stone in their learning journey rather than a stumbling block.

Can we detect the use of AI?

First, let’s address the fact that you may not actually be able to tell when your students are using AI. Detecting it isn’t as easy as it seems; in fact, even experts struggle to. In a recent study, editors from the “top linguistics journals” mostly failed to identify AI use in writing, with only a 38.9% success rate.

Even technology may not be able to help you. In another study, researchers from a range of universities around the world found that tools used to check for AI use in student assignments were only 68% accurate, with the researchers concluding that they were neither “accurate nor reliable”.

The lack of effective tools in identifying the use of AI leaves educators with, we believe, only three options:

  1. A ban on AI – While it may seem like the best option at first, in reality, this won’t work and can’t be enforced. It would also mean missing out on the benefits of AI such as a personalised learning experience, or training your students in a useful skill.
  2. Encouraging the use of AI – We must be wary on encouraging AI. Despite the apparent positives, there’s still a lot we don’t know about AI, so it may not be wise to be overly dependent. Encouraging AI without proper guidance can lead to misuse.
  3. Adapting to the use of AI – By adapting to AI, we must provide guidance on how to avoid making mistakes and how to use it.

Considering these factors, it’s important to understand the extent to which AI can aid students in their education and ensure they are getting the most out of it that they can.

So, can AI help students learn and achieve?

The common consensus is that if we use AI well, it can actually be positive. So, how can AI help students?

Research found that when artists adopted the use of AI art tools in their work, they produced twice as much and got 25% higher ratings in their work. This suggests that AI could be a positive force and can be used to create positive results in education.

Furthermore, research has suggested that one of the most effective and helpful uses of AI for students is its ability to provide immediate and tailored feedback, which can significantly improve student comprehension and retention of knowledge.

But this isn’t the only role AI can play for students – if you want to find out more about the ways students can use AI within the classroom, have a read of our blog 7 approaches to using AI in the classroom (with prompts).

Our advice for better quality student prompts for AI

‌So, how do we ensure students get the most out of AI tools? It all lies in the prompts. Here are some useful tips for your students to engage more effectively with AI:

  1. Understand your audience – A detailed understanding of your audience can significantly enhance the effectiveness of your prompts. Consider their age, subject, preferred spelling (English vs American), and their background. This helps in creating a more personalised learning experience.
  2. Define the AI’s role as an expert – Clearly define the role of AI as an expert. Detail its identity, responsibilities and expertise. The more specific you are, the better the AI can assist.
  3. Be clear about the task – Provide a clear outline of the task. This should include the intended learning outcome, specific instructions, and the desired output size. Also, provide any supporting materials or resources that the AI can refer to.
  4. Ask follow-up questions – Encourage interaction by asking follow-up questions. This facilitates a deeper understanding and refinement of the AI’s responses.
  5. Explain the importance of the task – Interestingly, research has suggested that telling the AI that the task is “really important” and that it “better be sure” about its output encourages better results and a more positive learning experience. You can even get better results by telling the AI to “take a deep breath”.
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A word of caution on AI

This blog explores how students can maximise the use of AI. How they can use it better. Essentially, how to use it effectively.

What it doesn’t cover is when they should and shouldn’t use it. Clearly, delegating one’s thinking to AI and using it to copy and paste answers is a firm red line that shouldn’t be crossed. But beyond that, a whole world of ethics and potential scenarios that need to be navigated exist.

We will cover this in coming blogs, along with suggested AI policies that various schools are adopting for their students and will update this blog with a link to those posts once they are published.

Final thoughts

It’s crucial to remember that while AI offers a myriad of advantages in the educational sphere, its use must be well-guided and thoughtful. The ability to detect AI use in assignments may not be fool-proof yet, but AI’s potential to aid students in their learning journey has plenty of potential. However, this tool should not replace hard work or critical thinking. Instead, it should serve as a support for students to refine and develop their own ideas. Hopefully following the above suggestions can help students to do so.

About the editor

Bradley Busch

Bradley Busch

Bradley Busch is a Chartered Psychologist and a leading expert on illuminating Cognitive Science research in education. As Director at InnerDrive, his work focuses on translating complex psychological research in a way that is accessible and helpful. He has delivered thousands of workshops for educators and students, helping improve how they think, learn and perform. Bradley is also a prolific writer: he co-authored four books including Teaching & Learning Illuminated and The Science of Learning, as well as regularly featuring in publications such as The Guardian and The Telegraph.

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