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Over 50% of UK students use AI for essay help #AIinEducation

More than half of UK undergraduates are using artificial intelligence (AI) to help with their essays, according to a survey conducted by the Higher Education Policy Institute (Hepi). The survey found that 53% of undergraduates are using AI to generate material for work they would be marked on, with one in four using applications such as Google Bard or ChatGPT to suggest topics and one in eight using them to create content. However, only 5% admitted to copying and pasting unedited AI-generated text into their assessments.

Teachers are also using AI to streamline their work, with the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) signing up secondary schools for a new research project into the use of AI to generate lesson plans, teaching materials, exams, and model answers. Dr. Andres Guadamuz, a reader in intellectual property law at the University of Sussex, emphasized the need for educators to have mature conversations with students about generative AI and to address the potential for ‘hallucinations’ and inaccuracies in AI.

The use of AI might help cut the workload burden on teachers and improve the quality of their teaching, according to the EEF’s proposal. The AI-generated lesson plans will be assessed by an independent panel of experts. However, there are concerns about the potential for ‘hallucinations’ and inaccuracies in AI, as well as the need for clear guidelines and policies to address the issue.

Overall, the use of AI in education is growing, and educators need to adapt by establishing clear guidelines and policies, as well as designing more challenging assessments. However, this is difficult in a resource-constrained environment where academics are already overburdened and underpaid. The findings from trials using AI in education will be an important contribution to the evidence base, bringing us closer to understanding how teachers can effectively use AI.

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