At the beginning of May, EduBirdie announced a research study on the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) tools on academic performance. We aimed to examine how the use of AI affects the learning process of college students. As an all-in-one website for academic needs, we are eager to learn more about the actual AI's impact on the learning process. Therefore, EduBirdie polled 1,000 full-time and part-time students across the U.S.
First Things First
To begin with, we started searching for student volunteers who will study using only generated content in their writing assignments, project research, idea development, and spell and grammar checks for three weeks.
Four volunteers, Brian, Sandy, Lucy, and Arjun, received a list of 15 free-to-access AI-powered tools to use for their writing assignments. They could also use tools that were not included in the list.
A list of recommended AI-powered tools
- Wordtune: AI-powered writing tool for improving content.
- Notion AI: AI-powered productivity tool for organizing tasks.
- Rytr: AI-powered writing assistant for generating content.
- Jasper: AI-powered platform for automating tasks.
- LanguageTool: AI-powered grammar and style checker.
- Scite: AI-powered research tool for finding related articles.
- Research Rabbit: AI-powered research assistant for finding sources.
- Consensus: AI-powered platform for decision-making and collaboration.
- ChatPDF: AI-powered tool for editing and annotating PDFs.
- Explain Like I'm Five: AI-powered platform for simplifying explanations.
- Beulr: AI-powered design tool for creating visuals.
- Elicit: AI-powered platform for gathering insights.
- Chat GPT: AI-powered language model for interactive conversations.
Main Experiment’s Rules and Terms
After the experiment, EduBirdie's Research Team conducted interviews with participants. We identified emerging themes and patterns related to the effect of AI tools on the learning process and academic performance.
- Participants were fully informed of the study's purpose and procedures before consenting to participate.
- Participants knew they could withdraw from the study at any time.
- The collected data was secured and only accessible to the research team.
- EduBirdie encouraged the responsible use of artificial intelligence technology.
Impact of AI Tools on Academic Performance
When studying the impact of artificial intelligence on students, we tried to consider various aspects and factors of influence. Thus, we paid attention to such technology-related factors as access to digital resources, the use of digital tools in education, and students' technology literacy.
Surveyed students claimed their colleges use different digital tools to access materials, discussions, and assignment grading. Students receive digitalized educational materials, i.e., digital textbooks, e-books, and online resources. Meanwhile, some students still struggle with Microsoft Excel and Word, storing and sorting documents on a laptop.
The AI-based tools list offered by EduBirdie for the experiment was only partially known. All students knew and used ChatGPT but needed to become more familiar with prompt engineering. Students also mentioned using QuillBot, which was outside the tools offered.
Health factors, including physical and mental health;
All involved students mentioned that AI tools enhance productivity, help access valuable resources, and assist in various academic tasks.
They also mentioned the negative aspects of using the tools. All students noted that when they have difficulty solving a question or task, they immediately turn to ChatGPT for an answer. They also noted anxiety and "as if I cannot do anything at all" when ChatGPT is not working. Students noted that multitasking and jumping from one tool and platform to another can lead to mental overload. They also mentioned they started worrying about being accused of plagiarism when using AI tools for studying (in particular, ChatGPT). Based on the survey, 15% have been caught or punished for using artificial intelligence assistants.
The respondents also noted that they have started to communicate less in person. Suppose they need help, explanation, or advice (whether it concerns the educational process or personal life). In that case, they are likelier to turn to AI-based tools than a professor, classmates, or counselor.
We asked whether they followed the WHO recommendations for physical activity and a sedentary lifestyle, namely 150-300 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity or 75-150 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity. Everyone moved a little and regularly. They also emphasized they began to spend more time directly in front of a laptop and smartphone monitor. The use of devices has increased by an average of 80 minutes. The reasons for this are the desire to experiment with the tool, expectations-reality discrepancy, and the lack of clarity on how to use it.
Respondents' answers also show a specific correlation between the constant use of tools and decreased self-confidence. They started to feel anxious about their future. The arrival of ChatGPT and others (AI-powered tools) may lead to increased competition and, consequently, lower wages. They feel no longer confident enough in this competition, being just juniors.
Individual factors, such as motivation, learning style, self-discipline, and study habits;
While AI tools can be helpful, students should also be mindful of their learning preferences and needs.
It is essential to balance the use of AI tools with a comprehensive approach to learning that includes critical thinking, active participation, and the search for diverse sources of knowledge.
The students surveyed also shared their attitudes toward the constant use of AI-based tools during the experiment. They assume AI-powered tools can be assistants, but they are not the only ones doing their work. They have a point of view and a vision to generate ideas that reflect this point of view and vision. If they remove their opinion from the process, there is little to do with creative learning. It's just copying other people's replicated ideas.
They also expressed their lack of confidence in relying entirely on AI for learning. They see trusting the entire assignment to Chat GPT as risky, so they rely on the tool only partially. They believe ChatGPT doesn't know how to write a high-quality essay. The respondents stated the tool just copies other relevant pieces to your prompt. And that's only if the prompt is clear and correct.
Technology and Learning:
- Students reported using online learning management systems, virtual classrooms, and digitalized educational materials.
- Many of the AI tools provided by EduBirdie were unfamiliar to the participants, requiring additional time for learning and exploration.
Health and AI Tools:
- Students recognized the benefits of AI tools in enhancing productivity and accessing valuable resources.
- Concerns were raised about over-reliance on AI, as it could lead to reduced interpersonal communication with professors, classmates, or counselors.
Physical Activity and Self-Confidence:
- Physical activity levels decreased among surveyed students who used AI tools extensively.
- Prolonged use of AI tools was associated with reduced self-confidence, mainly due to anxieties about job prospects in a competitive market influenced by AI advancements.
Importance of Critical Thinking:
- While AI tools were helpful for tasks like grammar and spelling checks, students emphasized the significance of critical thinking and active participation in the learning process.
- Seeking diverse sources of knowledge was also highlighted by the participants.
Avoiding Plagiarism and Dependence on Inaccurate Information:
- Participants stressed the importance of maintaining their perspective and critical thinking skills to prevent plagiarism and reliance on inaccurate information.
Legality and Legitimacy
The research conducted by EduBirdie's Research Team adhered to ethical standards and ensured the legality and legitimacy of the study. Before participating, all participants were fully informed about the purpose and procedures of the research. They knew their involvement was voluntary and they could withdraw at any time.
Data collection and storage were handled securely, with the collected data accessible only to the research team. This ensured the confidentiality and privacy of the participants' information.
EduBirdie promoted the responsible and ethical use of artificial intelligence technology throughout the study to avoid academic misconduct.
Disclaimer of Endorsement. Information contained in this research regarding any AI-powered tool, or service by trade name, trademark, or otherwise, does not constitute or imply its endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by EduBirdie. Any such information is for informational purposes only. Any potential user is expected to conduct their own due diligence and assessment of the tools or services as appropriate for their needs. EduBirdie encourages academic integrity.
EduBirdie Team was in constant contact with each participant to try to ensure that the volunteers used these AI-based tools throughout the study period. However, we cannot confirm this and rely on the honesty of the participants' responses.