ChatGPT is on the Rise in Public Schools

Why is ChatGPT so popular in schools? We asked Dunbar students and English teachers their thoughts.

In November 2022 ChatGPT, an artificial intelligence chatbot developed by OpenAI was launched. 

ChatGPT became well known for its ability to produce human-like responses. AI is popularly used as a search engine, to write emails, poems, and scripts, and to answer questions. Two months after its initial launch, the chatbot had 100 million monthly users in Jan. OpenAI has projected revenues of $200 million for 2023, and $1 billion by 2024. 

However, many of the chatbot users are students.

Dunbar students were polled to see if they had ever used ChatGPT. In this poll, 59% of students claimed they had used the chatbot. 41% of students claimed they had not. 

“I used it for my English class,” senior Katie Bridwell said. “My teacher asked my class to utilize it for brainstorming our essays.”

According to Dunbar English teacher Mr. Gary Egan, AI is a knowledgeable tool to use for brainstorming. 

“Ideas come from everywhere in society, so why shouldn’t AI be a part of that part of the writing process?” said Mr. Egan. “AI has so much more breadth of knowledge than any student can have. It has “read” more than any of them have a chance to read.” 

Dunbar English teacher Mrs. Brooke Jackson agrees ChatGPT can help students.

When I was doing research on ChatGPT for a project I found that it was incredibly helpful in terms of helping students understand concepts if they are willing to ask multiple questions,” she said.

“I copy and pasted an old student essay and I asked it to identify grammar errors. I then asked it to explain the rule behind each grammar mistake. It went through the misunderstanding and gave me other examples. I also asked it to suggest places where I needed to develop my essay more. It told me specific paragraphs that needed more information. It did not give the answers but helped me see where the essay was lacking. If a student doesn’t understand a question, they can type it into ChatGPT,” said Mrs. Jackson. 

Nevertheless, senior Addison Cremeans said the chatbot does more harm than good.

“When you bring AI into the picture, students will lose the motivation to dig for good research,” Cremeans said. “Some of the AI’s information is incorrect.”

Dunbar English teacher Ms. Amanda Holt also said the misinformation spread by ChatGPT concerns her.

“ChatGPT has been shown to make-up information,” Ms. Holt said. “Some of the responses generated are not trustworthy at all. Some of my colleagues that teach at the college level tested it and found that ChatGPT just made up false citations—research that just didn’t exist. This will help lead to more widespread misinformation.”

Dunbar students were polled to see if they thought ChatGPT should be used in schools. In this poll, 84% of students claimed they think the chatbot should be used. 14% of students claimed it should not.

Senior Chloe McCain believes the chatbot takes away critical thinking skills formed in school.

“When people use it for things like essays, it takes away that creativity and critical thinking skills kids need when they write papers, “ McCain said. “It’s good to exercise your brain with writing and reading. When a robot does that, you get nothing.”

However, some have concerns about plagiarism issues the chatbot would cause. 

I am hesitant to say ChatGPT should be used or not used in schools,” said Mrs. Jackson. “It is all about how it is used. There would be real learning if it were allowed, but there would also be rampant plagiarism.”

Dunbar students were polled to see if they would consider using ChatGPT to complete their assignments for school. In this poll, 64% of students claimed they would. 36% of students claimed they might.

“I am not worried that students will use ChatGPT to complete school assignments,” Mr. Egan said. “I know they will. But they’re just cheating their peers and teachers.”

ChatGPT is currently blocked on all FCPS devices and networks. 

“AI is getting scary,” senior Will Graves said. “I’m scared of how it will impact schools next.”