Using ChatGPT as a tool – An Emerging Skill

ChatGPT has been banned from many schools due to its ability to make cheating easier than ever. Students simply put in a prompt and the tool returns a full essay, completed math equations, and other finished school work. 

While using ChatGPT can result in plagiarism and students simply not learning the lessons, there are upsides to the AI tool, too, according to some experts. In fact, Ethan Mollick, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, has made the AI resource a requirement in his classroom

liberal arts students standing around a desk looking at a computer for a project

Wharton MBA Professor Requires ChatGPT

While many K-12 teachers and professors are banning ChatGPT from the classroom and their assignments, a professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Ethan Mollick, is embracing it. And instead of just using the AI tool haphazardly, he is requiring that students learn how to use it well. 

Mollick, like many others, believes that ChatGPT and similar tools are here to stay. So, what better way than to learn how to use them appropriately and efficiently? The argument here is that while they shouldn’t be used to cheat, students can instead learn how to use ChatGPT to their advantage. For example, Mollick found that the first prompt in the AI tool always produced a middling essay. However, by working on the prompt and inputs, students were able to finetune the results.

This resulted in much better papers, especially after students added their own knowledge, research, and editing into the piece. 

Mollick did find downsides to this approach – students seemed less engaged in the classroom – but students were already using ChatGPT for their assignments before it was required. Now they have the knowledge and understanding to use it wisely.

Are Other Teachers and Professors Allowing or Even Requiring ChatGPT in the Classroom?

Every school and teacher is different. So whether or not your professor or school district allows ChatGPT will depend on several factors. Adoption of the resource, however, is still slow. It remains to be seen how many professors and teachers will embrace the technology and even require it in their lesson plans.

Should You Use ChatGPT in the Classroom?

While this Wharton School of Business professor does require it in the classroom, does that mean you should use it in your own classes? The answer is – it depends. 

First, if your teacher or professor has banned the use of the AI resource and similar ones, it’s highly recommended that you avoid the technology. Getting caught using it can result in some serious consequences, such as accusations of plagiarism or low grades. 

However, there are also the ethics and downsides of the technology to consider even if your teacher hasn’t made a formal announcement on the use of ChatGPT. A few of these include:

  • The writing and work ChatGPT produces comes from somewhere on the internet and is often not properly cited. This can be seen as plagiarism and copyright infringement, especially if the student is passing the work off as their own.
  • ChatGPT can fabricate research.
  • ChatGPT can and will be wrong on occasion. 
  • There are privacy concerns, especially if you are including sensitive information about yourself or others in your prompts.
  • ChatGPT can have bias.

Even if your teacher allows you to use ChatGPT or even requires it, you never want to simply copy and paste entire passages and pass it as your own work.

So What Can You Use ChatGPT for?

That said, there are ways you can use ChatGPT and similar tools without infringing on copyright or plagiarizing work. And, as Mollick believes, it is highly unlikely these AI tools are going anywhere – understanding how to use them to your advantage can prove beneficial in the years to come, especially when employers are looking for employees who understand how to properly use AI.

A few ways you can ethically use ChatGPT to support your school work include:

  • Research and brainstorm essay topics.
  • Create outlines for your essays.
  • Ask for clarification on a topic you don’t understand.
  • Give feedback on essays and other work.
  • Ask for suggestions on grammar, sentence structure, and vocabulary.
  • Create quizzes, study guides, and study plans.
  • Generate creative writing prompts.

Tips for Using ChatGPT Ethically and Responsibly

ChatGPT can be an asset to your work. However, it is important to use it ethically and responsibly, even if your teacher recommends or requires use of the AI resource. Remember these tips:

  • Never copy and paste.
  • Do your due diligence and fact-check any data, facts, and information.
  • Understand AI’s limits.
  • Cite your sources, including ChatGPT.

It is not enough to ask ChatGPT to cite your sources. In fact, the AI will often not be able to. Instead, it is up to you to do the legwork. One way to do this is to search for the data on the internet and find sources that back up ChatGPT’s claim. You should then cite this source by your teacher’s citation requirements (MLA, AP, Chicago, etc.). You may also be required to provide a chat transcript of the conversation with the AI and the date.

ChatGPT isn’t all evil. While it certainly shouldn’t be used to completely write essays and other assignments for you, AI tools like ChatGPT can elevate your approach to school work. Just always be sure to approach it with ethics in mind. 

One area ChatGPT can help is with your scholarship essay! You should never ask the AI to completely write your essay, but it can help you brainstorm topics. Check out some scholarships using our Scholarship Search Tool to get started!