Top of the class? How Generation Z is using AI at school

How Generation Z is using AI at school

Artificial intelligence has finally arrived, with the likes of ChatGPT and Bard giving us the ability to tap into on-demand intelligence.

These radical new technologies are improving from one week to the next. But what will be the impact on the education system, where students are still expected to expand their knowledge the old-fashioned way?

Using ChatGPT to do your homework might sound unfair. But could AI have other uses in class? Like helping struggling students get instant feedback on their work without waiting for teachers or professors?

To learn more about how the AI revolution is changing education, EduBirdie surveyed 2,000 members Generation Z in the US. Here’s what they told us…

Nearly 9 in 10 students have used AI at school or college

Let’s be honest: if you’d had the chance to use a tool as powerful as ChatGPT or Bard to get ahead in your college days, you’d have jumped at it – and Generation Z is doing so.

88% of gen z used GPT at school

Our survey revealed that 88% of Gen Z have used an AI tool like ChatGPT at school or college. But fear not teachers: they’re using it for many more reasons than just generating assignments.

The most common educational use of AI is for idea generation and brainstorming, with 51% of respondents saying they’d used it to boost their own output. 

Other popular options included using AI for research (45%), enlisting ChatGPT as a proofreader and editor (35%); and asking for its help in explaining things (17%).

And how about churning out assignments? Just 12% of respondents told us that they used an AI tool to ghostwrite an essay or assessment for them. But then again, perhaps they were just the only ones who admitted it…

In detention: will using AI get you into trouble at school?

AI may be a game-changer in the classroom, but it can come with consequences. Higher education institutions in particular have tough rules against using AI to cut corners.

59% of gen z know someone who got in trouble for using GPT

Indeed 59% of recipients said they knew someone who had gotten into trouble for using ChatGPT at school or college (compared to 41% who weren’t aware of any such situation), while 1 in 4 have got into trouble themselves.

What kind of trouble can come from unauthorized use of AI in the classroom? While the majority of our Generation Z respondents have been fine, some have paid a severe price.

25% of gen z got into trouble of using GPT

1% of respondents said they had been expelled from school or college for using ChatGPT to do their work, with another 3% saying they had narrowly avoided that happening. At the less severe end of the scale, 6% had been told off while 9% had lost marks on their assignments.

60% of gen z don't feel guilty for using GPT in school

So how do Generation Z feel about using AI in their education?

13% said they always felt guilty when using ChatGPT, with a further 27% saying they felt guilty at least some of the time. By contrast, 60% said they felt no guilt whatsoever about using AI to help do their work.

Is it possible to identify content written by artificial intelligence?

With the vast majority of Generation Z already using machine learning and artificial intelligence in their education, it begs one big question: just how easy is it to identify content written by AI?

72% of gen z believe they can identify content written by GPT

Right now, even the digital natives aren’t sure they can spot the hand of ChatGPT, with just 23% confident that they could easily identify content written by AI.

By contrast, 49% felt they could identify AI-written content most of the time, while 28% said they were completely unable to recognize work that had been produced by an AI chatbot.

If Generation Z can’t identify AI content, what hope do their elders have? It turns out that schools and colleges have other tools when it comes to spotting the use of machine learning.

61% of gen z say their school uses software to detect generated content

61% of our survey respondents said that their school or college was using specialist software to identify work that had been generated with help from ChatGPT, and 19% said that their teachers and professors had been tasked with detecting work produced by AI.

Given the consternation about AI’s impact, you’d think that educators would have no excuse for not taking it seriously. Yet 2% of respondents said that their school or college was not even checking for AI-generated content at all.

Top of the class: can AI bring other benefits for students?

Generation Z may well be the first generation to utilize the power of machine learning in their students. So how do they feel about AI’s impact on education?

gen z feels more creative thanks to GPT

Asked about their experience with tools like ChatGPT, 4 in 5 of our Generation Z respondents said that AI had helped them in their studies and education. Amongst the most popular options, 1 in 2 respondents credited AI tools with boosting their creativity or making them less stressed.

Meanwhile, 46% said they were more productive thanks to ChatGPT and Bard, and 40% said they felt more confident in their studies. But did Generation Z report any drawbacks when it came to using AI tools?

33% of gen z worry they rely too much on GPT

Interestingly, 36% of respondents fretted that they might be becoming too reliant on ChatGPT, while 31% said that having an AI hive-mind on call was stunting their own critical thinking. Still, 1 in 3 respondents said that they had no worries or concerns to report.

When it comes to using AI in education, then, you can expect to hear plenty more about how these tools are changing the game. And there’s every chance that they’re just getting started…

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