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The Wingspan

The official student news site of Norristown Area High School

The Wingspan

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AI Usage in School Prompts Discussions Among Teachers and Students

Abigail Carsner

Although Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been around since the 1950s, it has only recently entered the mainstream with the advent of generative AI like ChatGPT and DALL-E. These AI programs have largely become popular due to their ease of use. However, there are concerns that this low barrier to entry could be used to circumvent school assignments and projects.

For school students, ChatGPT is as easy to access as the grass outside. There is no price on it and all it takes is a quick search. As such we have seen a rise in AI usage as students struggle to complete assignments on time. Educators and teachers who have experienced students using AI have a voice to share.

“In the last few years I have noticed that AI has really started to creep into the classroom, not just with big papers but with small assignments,” said English Teacher Ms.Bartlett, “So rather than thinking they go directly to AI for help, and some students use it just to cheat all the time rather than thinking, and I really blame covid for that, students cheated during covid so when they came back it felt like they needed to continue rather than thinking and getting stuff done on time.” 

Some students have willingly revealed they have been using AI for assignments, and there may be even more who prefer to stay quiet. 

“I was feeling lazy and didn’t want to write a speech, so I looked up chat GPT and asked [it] to write a speech. Only in that class for that assignment, ” stated an anonymous student. 

To combat this, many sites used for assignment submission were installed with programs to scan for usage of AI, such as Turnitin Originality, the software used by

“I am super happy that came up with an AI detector because before that I knew I was getting papers that were AI generated and that with a little bit of flare mixed in so I couldn’t necessarily approve it,” said Bartlett, “But now with Turnitin’s AI generator detector I can show students it’s a problem.”

While this has worked, it doesn’t mean teachers will stop caring about students using AI for their assignments, as generative AI will always continue to evolve and upgrade. Some people have more balanced opinions, believing that AI should only be used if one is taught how to properly use it. 

 “As with most things, it’s about students learning how to use it before launching into it blindly,” said Instructional Support Teacher Ms. Colloton. “As educators what we can do is teach students ‘this is how we appropriately use it’. It’s not that students shouldn’t ever learn how to use it because when they go into whatever field they are going to enter, more than likely there’s going to be some type of AI feature.”

 The main point is that most students who use AI for school work do not use it properly, as they’re uneducated on the subject and simply use it as a scapegoat to hand in assignments without working. While it does get the assignment done, students do not learn anything from doing it. 

“The thing you need to remember is that you always need expert eyes,” said Colloton, “It’s not something to always be cut and paste, not a corner cutting tool, you still need expert human eyes. Somebody that has a huge breadth of knowledge in the area you’re investigating. So, students can use it, but at a high school level, it should be the educators teaching the students how to use it.” stated Colloton. 

Most students have similar opinions on the use of AI, but it’s always good to note that these people may just be looking out for other students’ best interests. Their opinions are split on it obviously, with some fine with the use and others against it. 

“You’re not doing the work, it’s digitally being done for you, which is missing the whole point of school,” said senior Christina Fritz. “You won’t succeed if you’re having a robot do it for you.” 

Several students feel the same way. But, what should be kept in mind is how you use it, and what the context is. Another thing is, if you plan to use AI, you want to add a human element. There are only a few circumstances where the use of AI is okay, such as using it to come up with ideas or understand the topic better, not as an answer generator. 

Some students, however, have actively chosen to use ChatGPT for assignments, they still do the whole assignment by themselves, but they also use ChatGPT to overcome stagnation. These students also know to limit themself so as to not become dependent on it such as how Colloton spoke of, 

“The Gatsby test I wanted to have an idea for what the theme of it was but I didnt wanna like look for it for myself so I asked chat GPT to find themes for what it was,” said an anonymous student. ¨It gave me like eight answers which didn’t help me at all in the test which was unfortunate but it did help me understand the book better and like what F. Scott Fitzgerald was trying to write about. I don’t like having something write stuff for me.” 

This is how some educators wish AI to be used in school, as a way to help with coming up with ideas of how to do an assignment, not answer the whole thing. This way, students still learn and remember the information as they work, and could maybe even learn new things along the way. 

What about outside of school though? What about using AI for a college? Well to put it simply, Rick Clar, a Georgia Tech Administrator, stated in the article Seniors, Can We ChatGPT? that it is okay to use AI for brainstorming, and getting ideas. Essentially, use it as a way to assist you, not to do the work for you.

With generative AI still being relatively new, the main takeaway is that whether you should use AI in school is still being discussed. The best course of action if you want to use it is best to be selective and limit yourself to generating ideas, not answers. When you work, you want to express your thoughts, not thoughts pulled from the internet.

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About the Contributors
Brett Wilson
Brett's a complete nerd and only semi-approachable. If he doesn't know you, and you talk to him, don't expect the fastest or most coherent response. He loves art, food, and video games, so he can at least relate to people somehow. He enjoys writing for the Wingspan! This is his second year on the staff.
Abigail Carsner
Abigail Carsner, Graphics Editor
Abigail has always had a talent for writing. From a young age, Abigail could write like there was no tomorrow. She loves it. This is her second year on the Wingspan. She is a fan of film, art, literature, and music. She enjoys writing music-related articles, either it being about a certain genre or music news. Abigail also likes to write creative works, play guitar, and draw. When she is older, Abigail either wants to be a musician or a writer.

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    Mr. BucciFeb 9, 2024 at 11:29 am

    Nice article, Brett! I really appreciate the variety of perspectives you’ve sampled. Also, “ChatGPT is as easy to access as the grass outside” might be one of my favorite similes of all time!