Chat GPT Teacher's reaction

March 28, 2023 •

4 min reading

What is ChatGPT good for in the classroom? A teacher tests and reacts

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ChatGPT-3 has been making the headlines recently. It is such an exciting AI development, but what is ChatGPT good for in the classroom? I promptly went to the ChatGPT site and started exchanging with it to see if it would make my life as a teacher easier or harder. Students and teachers - beware! Despite being a great learning tool, ChatGPT still has a long way to go before becoming a reliable and logical aid. Best to use sparingly as a pedagogical tool - and above all - employ a lot of critical thinking.

ChatGPT as a pedagogical tool

I find this whole new area of Artificial Intelligence (AI) exciting and fascinating. I was born before personal computers, let alone the internet, and the opportunity of thus exchanging, for free, with a …robot ... was too much fun to ignore.

In addition, I teach, so I was keen to start learning about how to use ChatGPTas a pedagogical tool in my classes. The first reaction of many people in education was to ban it, but I never liked the banishment policies that first greeted the use of computers and then smartphones in the classroom. Students in my classroom need both their computer and their smartphones. They are of course also welcome to take notes by hand. I prefer to harness all these innovations and embrace the change: it makes learning exciting and provides new challenges every day.

I believe my job is to facilitate students’ learning by providing them with a framework and all the resources they might need. For example, students use their smartphones in my classroom to answer online quizzes and I want them to use anything else that works to optimize their learning, including ChatGPT.

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ChatGPT and logic in a group project

My students have to work on a final project with a series of tasks which are inextricably linked. They must address the legal challenges attached to their own hospitality business concept, so, for example, if they want to develop their own brand and fulfill the tasks regarding Intellectual Property challenges with this goal in mind, logic dictates they cannot choose to become a franchisee in a subsequent task since a franchisee develops the franchisor’s brand, not their own.

I fed ChatGPT the facts of a hospitality business project where I would inherit a hotel with a spa and a restaurant, and would want to see the property successfully run. I then gave it a list of possible business models and asked which I should choose, assuming that I lacked management expertise. The expected answer is a business model with a management agreement. ChatGPT chose to rent the premises and manage them itself, which is contradictory to the stated facts!


ChatGPT and multiple choice questions

ChatGPT scored 100% at answering multiple choice questions (MCQ) past exam questions: So far so good. However, when I asked it to create new questions, similar to the ones I had just fed it, with the learning objective to distinguish between employees and independent contractors, remembering to identify the correct answer and add justification, ChatGPT failed – miserably!                                                           

It came up with an interesting business name, 'Suds ’R Us', (however, a well-known laundry retail brand might not be so impressed). In one of ChatGPT's questions, a hotel hired Suds’ R Us to launder their sheets and towels. ChatGPT then included the answer in the question and displayed only wrong answers. 

Its question was: “What is the legal status of Suds’ R Us’ employees”. The three possible answers provided were: 

  1. Hotel employee
  2. Hotel‘s independent contractor
  3. Hotel’s agent.

ChatGPT selected answer number 2: Hotel ‘s independent contractor.

AI is supposed to grow with our feedback, so I pointed this mistake out, stating that:

  1. Including the answer in the question (e.g., "What color was the white horse of Henry IV?") must be avoided when creating MCQ.
  2. Suds’ R Us’s employees are employees of Suds’ R Us (sic!) – they are not an independent contractor hired by the hotel - whereas Suds'R Us is!

When I pointed out that a mistake had been made, ChatGPT gave me a standard and marvelously polite answer, “I apologize for the confusion”, but it continued with the same logical flaw. I tried several times to teach it to fix the case and to give the correct answer, but to no avail.


Good for teaching critical thinking

I teach law – or rather, as my students are not future lawyers, I teach them how to include the legal dimension in their business decisions. Law is technical and so is legal vocabulary, even when I try and make it as clear and understandable as I can. I thought at first this might explain ChatGPT's difficulties.

However, when it comes to giving me chapter and verse about the legal theory and applying it to existing questions, ChatGPT is excellent. It is applying the theory to create exam questions that seems beyond its ability, even when I identify its mistakes.

My ultimate conclusion as I await to access the latest version, ChatGPT-4: The logical flaws and the current refusal to learn from its mistakes make ChatGPT potentially a very useful tool to use in class to teach students the importance of critical thinking!

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Senior Lecturer at EHL

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