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'Covers the campus like the magnolias'
"Covers the campus like the magnolias"

Old Gold & Black

"Covers the campus like the magnolias"

Old Gold & Black

It’s time for Wake Forest to turn to Chat GPT

We must leverage AI for a more comprehensive liberal arts curriculum
Shaila Prasad
ChatGPT shows that AI has become a staple of modern life, and it isn’t going anywhere.

ChatGPT and other artificial intelligence softwares have revolutionized the typical college learning environment. The infiltration of ChatGPT into higher education has prompted an ongoing conversation — at Wake Forest and beyond — about the role artificial intelligence should play in earning a college degree.

In the Wake Forest community, there are growing concerns about academic integrity in the age of artificial intelligence. At the start of the school year, Wake Forest’s Center for the Advancement of Teaching released a series of guidelines for professors to develop “strategies for preserving academic integrity” amidst the rise of ChatGPT. This trend of combatting AI has continued to grow in the classroom. 

Almost every one of my course syllabi for the Fall 2023 semester includes a disclaimer prohibiting the use of artificial intelligence to complete assignments. That suggests to me that fears surrounding AI are growing among professors, administrators and other members of the Wake Forest community. 

In a technology-driven era where only change is constant, it is increasingly necessary for universities to embrace technological advancements and stop viewing them as a threat to quality education. 

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Although most professors fear the infiltration of ChatGPT into their classrooms, there is also growing acceptance for the platform among educators at other national universities. There seems to be two dominant approaches to the question of artificial intelligence in higher education. The first solution,essentially, is to turn back time and retreat to in-class exams, taken with pen and paper without the interference of technology. The second is to confront the reality of the present, adjust to the times and find innovative solutions that incorporate ChatGPT into college curriculums rather than prohibit the chatbot entirely. In a Scientific American article, UCLA School of Law Professor John Villasenor states that he encourages the use of ChatGPT for the completion of writing assignments, stating that “the time when a person had to be a good writer to produce good writing ended in late 2022.” 

It is less about copying an essay prompt into the chatbot and pasting the outcome on Canvas and more about leveraging artificial intelligence as a learning tool for academic support. 

It is worth exploring how AI tools can complement — as opposed to replace — human talent in higher education. It is often overlooked that artificial intelligence can be leveraged to generate positive outcomes in an academic setting. While many educators view the software as an unethical source and a potential site for plagiarism, ChatGPT can actually enhance critical thinking and digital literacy skills among students. For example, chatbot can generate practice materials to help students prepare for exams, provide writing feedback and summarize research. 

Truthfully, college culture has become so fast-paced that exerting entirely human effort into every single task is simply not feasible. Where ChatGPT can play a supporting role is helping to brainstorm the early stages of a research paper or troubleshooting computer code errors. It is less about copying an essay prompt into the chatbot and pasting the outcome on Canvas and more about leveraging artificial intelligence as a learning tool for academic support. 

Another argument for AI-inclusive curriculum is that students will likely encounter softwares like ChatGPT in the future job market. According to the Academic Bulletin, the Wake Forest College mission is stated as “preparing young people to develop their knowledge and hone their skills as they become leaders of character.” The reality is that it would be difficult to harness the skills of emerging leaders in a community that is resistant to change and innovation. Furthermore, artificial intelligence has its limitations and simply cannot outcompete the likes of human talent. 

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For example, ChatGPT can produce misleading or biased answers. 

A Forbes article talks about ChatGPT’s inclination to generate different forms of bias, which would require a human to discern the difference between fact and prejudice. This design flaw is particularly prominent when asked about sociological or political topics. While the chatbot has ample capabilities of addressing existing questions, it cannot generate new questions. ChatGPT is essentially a storage unit of most current human knowledge, although the software lacks the intellectuality to devise new theories and thought patterns. Ultimately, ChatGPT requires support from a human to function properly, which is where artificial intelligence has potential to complement a liberal arts education. 

Wake Forest has long been prized for its deep commitment to liberal arts and training students to think critically. The rise of AI puts Wake Forest students in an advantageous position in the future job market due to the timeless value of a liberal arts education. Evidently, the software would never be able to completely replicate human talent because it lacks empathy, social cues and emotional awareness. Artificial intelligence does not have the same human instincts that has led to some of society’s most impressive innovations. Ultimately, a machine will never be able to rival the complexity of the human mind. 

Banning ChatGPT in the classroom as a response to the rise of artificial intelligence may not be the most beneficial outcome for students. The more favorable approach would be leveraging it to complement the enriching liberal arts curriculum that Wake Forest community members have worked so hard to upkeep. In a technologically-driven society, it is time for Wake Forest to implement an AI-inclusive curriculum.

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