BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY

BYU study looks at student AI usage

Apr 30, 2024, 6:00 AM

A cursor hovers above the title ChatGPT on a web browser....

Artificial intelligence service ChatGPT is pictured on a computer in Salt Lake City. ChatGPT has become a widely used program among students. (Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)

(Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — The question of artificial intelligence in the classroom is becoming something nearly all teachers are having to deal with, and a new study by a group of BYU professors looked into how student AI usage has developed on campus.

The study surveyed BYU students on how they used ChatGPT in school. It also surveyed students on what prompts they had fed into the program.

Ryan Schuetzler, an associate professor at BYU, participated in the study on student AI usage. He said the four most common uses are for retrieval like a Google search, generation of material, review or editing of things students have made, and to evaluate their work.

The students surveyed said they did not think they were using AI to cheat.

Related: Tutoring may be a ‘good way’ artificial intelligence can help us

Schuetzler, along with Cole Sutton, a research assistant on the study, explained that what constitutes cheating with AI may differ between classes.

“Some really writing-intensive classes, the point is to get you to write things.” Schuetzler said, “And so then it would more likely be cheating.”

Schuetzler pointed out that, even though none of the students they surveyed admit to using AI to cheat, there are probably some that were not completely truthful in their answers.

“It’s kind of up to the instructor of that class.” Sutton said, “That comes down to what the goals are of the class.”

According to the study, students most frequently use a repeating process. They get from an AI program, evaluate that information, and implement it into their work.

The process usually repeats its first steps several times before any AI output is implemented.

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BYU study looks at student AI usage