The student publication of Fort Zumwalt West High School

The Solitaire

The student publication of Fort Zumwalt West High School

The Solitaire

The student publication of Fort Zumwalt West High School

The Solitaire

A Robot Did My Homework

The usage of artificial intelligence in school
Screenshot by Cas Morgan
Screenshot of Chat GPT.

Artificial intelligence (AI) in school work has become a somewhat common occurrence among students. They tend to use it when the work becomes a little more challenging, or if they have procrastinated the assignment that is due. If a student is getting their work done by a bot, it could affect their education and learning.

As the possibilities with AI expand, teachers have seen students use similar tools more frequently. This rise in artificial media raises the question of why students would want to use it in the first place. There are many reasons why students may be interested in AI tools.

“I see them do it the most with assignments that are more valuable in class that they’ve procrastinated doing,” English teacher Bonnie Staudt said. “The panic of not getting something turned in stresses them out and causes them to make these choices.”

With the use of this technology comes the conversation of how it affects their learning. If the students are not doing the work themselves, does it affect them?

“I would say it negatively affects a student’s ability to [write and analyze] well, and in turn, it negatively affects their learning development,” English teacher Kevin Ruhland said. “It replaces the age-old trial and error methodology where students have to try, maybe fail, reflect on their failure, try again and grow. Trial and error is a much better teacher than being spoon fed answers.”

What students might not realize about their writing is how easy it can be for a teacher to tell if it truly is their own voice, or if it is the words of a bot.

“The first thing that students don’t realize is that their writing is like a fingerprint,” Ruhland said. “Each person has their own unique diction and syntax that is derived from their vocabulary, their reading level, etc., and when there is a sudden change in the way a person’s writing looks or sounds, it is a big red flag.”

While writing with AI can be seen as something that negatively impacts a student, it can also be used to benefit them in their learning, as long as it is not used to do the assignments for them.

“I think that if a student was stumped, they could turn to AI to write a paragraph, and then write the rest of the paper by themselves,” English teacher Dona Coleman said.

Not only can AI be seen being used for English assignments, it can also be seen when students are doing their math work. A common tool used is Photomath, which allows students to take a picture of a math problem they are working on and get an explanation of how to do the problem with an answer. However, counting on such a tool could have negative effects.

“If they rely too heavily on it, they are not able to perform on what they know,” math teacher Austin Darst said. “We are able to tell if a student’s work doesn’t match their test scores, and also they use formats we don’t teach.”

Photomath does not have to always be used negatively. Like using ChatGPT in English assignments, it can be used as a tool to better understand something that you are confused about.

“It can help if they are trying both before and after they use the AI,” Darst said. “I think when they don’t try, it’s when the effects are negative.”