Beware ChatGPT, a student’s new favorite tool

“ChatGPT, the cutting-edge AI language model developed by OpenAI, is revolutionizing the way people interact with technology, offering instant and accurate responses to an ever-growing range of queries.” 

That specific technology wrote that description of itself, proving just how innovative this technology can be. ChatGPT is an artificial intelligence model that was released to the public at the end of November 2022.  

The software is capable of understanding, responding and replicating human dialogue with unprecedented accuracy depending on the topic. It is not only able to provide accurate and correct information when asked questions but is also quick to respond.   

This poses a unique invitation to students who have the possibility to take advantage of the software to write essays, complete short answer test responses and much more.   

A WCU sophomore majoring in hospitality and management who wished to remain anonymous commented on the topic.  

“I use ChatGPT a couple times a week. I usually use it as a tool to expand on course material I don’t understand very well… it can be good for learning the basics of a lot of topics. For example, I ask it to write excel formulas for me.”  

Students fear revealing their identities while being questioned on this topic because professors consider using the AI on assignments as cheating.  

“I will admit, I have used it to give me answers to an assignment. However, it’s rather easy to tell that most answers from it were written by a computer if they were just copied and pasted,” they continued. 

While the university still is unsure of the path to take to detect answers written by ChatGPT, this student thinks the university should not worry about it.   

“Personally, I think it would be a little silly for the university to be concerned about it. I feel like those who use it in an unethical way (cheating) would be rather easy to catch as there are programs that can tell if something was written by AI.”   

WCU along with many other universities are at an impasse and are trying desperately to develop tools to prevent cheating before the simple accessibility of the tool coaxes students into using it for nefarious purposes.   

In spite of all the negatives, students still hold hope.   

“Despite the kind of negative ways of using ChatGPT, I think it’s a great tool/resource to use.”   

Some students even believe that it is the university’s responsibility to engage students in more ways other than with “pointless” writing assignments which could lead students to cheat using ChatGPT or different text generating AI. 

Heidi Dent, a professor of Marketing, Entrepreneurship, Sport Management, and Hospitality and Tourism at WCU has a special interest in AI and has unique insight into how it’s affecting students and professors. She believes that ChatGPT is making leaps and bounds toward improving the ease of marketing. 

“Content creation is an important component of marketing and leveraging Chat GPT to create content and for research can be very helpful,” Dent said. Though, with all the benefits, she adds that ChatGPT comes with a significant number of drawbacks.  

One of those drawbacks is what Dent calls “authenticity in content.” “While Chat GPT can be a great tool to assist with creation, it should not replace it. As with any tool, a human eye to review, edit and polish is necessary. The tool should not be leveraged when addressing crisis communications.” Dent cites the recent issue regarding Vanderbilt University using ChatGPT to write a poor response email to the mass shooting that occurred at Michigan State University as the reason for this stance. 

As a professor, Dent admits that ChatGPT has significantly affected how professors do assignments day to day. “There are tools out there to detect Chat GPT, however, nothing is one hundred percent. More and more example assignments which follow best practice standards are being communicated to assist professors to adopt and adapt to this new tool.” 

Dent says that something like ChatGPT cannot substitute critical thinking.  

“Critical thinking is an important skill that is learned in college. Chat GPT is a tool to create content, but it does not replace critical thinking skills. Professors that integrate critical analysis, research, and analysis activities leveraging Chat GPT can help students to gain a better understanding of the benefits and limitations of the technology.”  

If you’d like to learn more about ChatGPT and its uses visit the Open AI website.  For more information on how using ChatGPT as a student could affect you, visit WCU’s academic integrity page