How Teachers Feel About A.I. as a Tool to Enhance Learning

By: Sophie Renton

Technological advancements have undoubtedly contributed to changes in the education sector in the past and will continue to play a role in the future.

The pace of change, however, is accelerating. At the beginning of this year, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and specifically ChatGPT, disrupted the education sector at scale. Just like the calculator changed the way that students engaged with maths, AI can change the way that students engage in their learning.

Three in five classroom teachers (62%) are excited about the integration of AI into aspects of their role, while two in five (38%) feel nervous about it. The challenge of how to effectively integrate AI into the learning life cycle has just begun, yet there are some great opportunities on the horizon.

When considering how to appropriately engage with technology in schools there are some key questions to ask, these include what the role of the teacher, technology, and the assessment is.

AI in Teaching Graphic

Explore AI as a Tool, Not a Threat

As with any change to traditional methods there is often an initial sense of hesitation about the unknown. Yet rather than shutting out the change and continuing as normal, it is important to explore the benefits and make informed choices about how such change can be best utilised. With AI and ChatGPT there is an opportunity to lean into these technological changes, and, rather than fearing and banning these new technologies, advisedly embracing them as tools to enhance learning.

Consistent with this, teachers are more likely to view AI technologies as tools to enhance students’ learning and development (59%) than they are to see them as a threat (41%). This perspective highlights the desire to explore how these tools can be best utilised to strengthen student outcomes. It is important to note, however, the largest proportion are only slightly likely to view AI as a tool (31%) rather than a threat, which highlights that the sentiment towards AI could quickly shift if there are broad negative experiences.

The fact that the majority of teachers are open to using AI for teaching and learning, but not wholehearted advocates, is a demonstration of their evidence-based professionalism. While adaptive to change, teachers are also exercising prudence in assessing educational methodology and a caution to novelty.

Focus on Critical Thinking and Curiosity

Clarity on AI’s purpose and role in learning is essential. A key concern for teachers is the impact of AI on how students develop and are assessed on fundamental skills such as the development of original ideas and their writing skills.

In fact, seven in ten teachers (71%) strongly/somewhat agree ChatGPT and other AI technologies will increase levels of plagiarism. More than three in five teachers (62%) strongly/somewhat agree AI will significantly change the way students are assessed and graded, and that it will hinder students’ ability to write (57%).

The implications of these concerns are significant, so the way that AI is engaged with is important. In some schools’ teachers are experimenting with using ChatGPT as a tool to help students research a topic and build a base understanding of it before they begin looking at it more closely in the classroom. Others are using it to generate samples of work for students to critique.

The desire is to build a base of critical thinking and curiosity around the information that ChatGPT generates and not take it at face value but drive further curiosity. Educators are looking for the nexus of where AI benefits the student experience and drives efficiency gains for teachers.

Utilise AI to Improve Efficiencies

It is understandable thay most of the conversation around AI has been about how it will impact student development. To a lesser extent, however, the topic of how AI can improve efficiencies for teachers has been explored. The amount of time teachers are spending on administrative tasks has risen over the years, and teachers are feeling the squeeze with just 30% of teachers strongly/somewhat agreeing they have adequate administrative support in their role.

Yet, teachers are unlikely to be looking to AI as a means to improve efficiencies with just three in ten (31%) strongly/somewhat agreeing that AI technologies will greatly improve their productivity as a teacher.

There are, however, many potential efficiency gains from AI for teacher workflow management and knowledge sharing. To help alleviate teacher burnout it is important to explore technological solutions to improve processes and streamline workflow.

While there is still some uncertainty around AI and it should be engaged with prudently, there are also significant opportunities if engaged with well. A key takeaway for educational leaders is to be committed to the core principles of education but to remain relevant to ensure the delivery of it evolves and adapts with the times.

Article supplied with thanks to McCrindle.

About the Author: McCrindle are a team of researchers and communications specialists who discover insights, and tell the story of Australians – what we do, and who we are.

Feature image: Photo by kyo azuma on Unsplash 

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