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Survey reveals that teachers outpace students in use of, and sentiment toward, AI in education and its potential in the classroom.

Teachers are surprise AI champions


Survey reveals that teachers outpace students in use of, and sentiment toward, AI in education

Key points:

Roughly half of teachers say they are excited about AI’s potential in the classroom and say they believe it increases learning equity, according to a new survey from study platform Quizlet

The first-ever State of AI in Education Report polled students and teachers in the U.S. on how they are using AI in the classroom and how these technologies are shaping the future of education.

Key findings include:

  • 62 percent of all respondents have used AI technologies
  • Students agree that AI technologies help them better understand material
  • (73 percent) and study faster or more efficiently (67 percent)
  • Students who study three hours or more per night are more likely to say they have used AI technologies
  • A similar percentage of students (47 percent) and teachers (48 percent) say AI technologies have had a positive impact on the student learning experience
  • 42 percent of all respondents report that AI creates a more equitable system

Teachers are leading the AI charge

When it comes to ChatGPT and other AI technologies, media headlines have positioned students as early adopters and teachers as skeptics, but Quizlet’s research tells a different story: more teachers use these technologies than students (65 percent vs. 61 percent) and teachers also have a more positive sentiment towards these technologies, with 50 percent of teachers reporting they are excited or optimistic about AI in the classroom compared to 39 percent of students. Students were more likely to be neutral about AI’s role in education (20 percent compared to 10 percent of teachers).

“It is encouraging to see the number of teachers who are championing AI in education,” said Quizlet CEO Lex Bayer. “Many of the teachers we speak with emphasize they are trying to best prepare their students for the future world they will be living in, and see AI as an inevitable part of all of our futures.”

The top AI use cases for teachers are research (44 percent), followed by generating lesson plans (38 percent), summarizing or synthesizing information (38 percent) and generating classroom materials like tests and assignments (37 percent). The majority (51 percent) believe these technologies will have a positive impact on the future of education for teachers while 21 percent said they will not have a positive or negative impact. Nearly half (49 percent) have already seen these technologies positively impact their workload while 34 percent report that AI has not impacted their workload.

Students report that AI is changing how they learn for the better

Students are also exploring how to best use these technologies as AI has become integrated into more education tools and has become a bigger part of the school experience. The top three AI use cases for students are research (44 percent), summarizing or synthesizing information (38 percent) and generating study guides or materials (33 percent). When asked how AI technologies impact their schoolwork, students responded that they strongly or somewhat agree that these technologies help them better understand material (73 percent) and help them study faster or more efficiently (67 percent).

One of the most hotly debated issues amongst educators currently is how AI will impact studying. Does it help students study more effectively, functioning as a personal tutor that can also synthesize and organize information, or does it merely provide a shortcut? Today’s students spend a significant amount of time studying, with 73 percent studying either 1-2 (44 percent) or 3-4 (29 percent) hours per weeknight. Interestingly, students who say they study 3 hours or more per night are more likely to say they have used ChatGPT or similar AI technologies (72 percent vs. 61 percent). More than half (54 percent) of these students say that ChatGPT and similar AI technologies have impacted their overall learning experience positively.

“It’s not the lazy students gravitating towards AI,” said Maureen Lamb, Dean of Academic Technology and Innovative Pedagogy, The Ethel Walker School. “Most students using AI are deeply invested in their learning experience.”

AI boom comes as education sits at a crossroads

For both teachers and students, uncovering new ways to learn more effectively is paramount coming out of the pandemic. In 2022, the National Assessment of Educational Progress showed steep drop-offs in reading and math scores across the U.S. related to the pandemic.

When asked about the impact of AI in helping students rebound, 48 percent of teachers noted that they believe these technologies will help students recover from learning loss caused by the pandemic while 18 percent believe they will neither harm nor help. Almost half (47 percent) of students say AI technologies have already positively impacted their overall learning experience while 45 percent say these technologies have not had a positive or negative effect. When asked the same question, teachers responded similarly, with 48 percent noting that these technologies have had a positive impact on their students’ learning experience and 34 percent reporting that they have not had an effect either way.

“AI technologies hold immense promise for improving the way we educate students by personalizing the learning experience to the needs and styles of each individual student,” said Bayer. “We are excited to put more AI learning tools in the hands of students, especially as those who fell behind during the pandemic are looking for ways to catch up.”

Questions remain on teacher advocacy and equity

The State of AI in Education Report shows that AI is gaining traction in education, both from an adoption and sentiment point-of-view, but is not yet ubiquitous with 35 percent of teachers not yet having tried AI tools. AI in its current form is still new and the majority of students (53 percent) say that their teachers or instructors have not yet talked to them about the proper use of AI technology as it relates to school work and six in ten (59 percent) students say their teachers or instructors have not encouraged them to use AI technologies.

One explanation could be a lack of school or district-wide guidance. AI exploded at an unforeseen rate in the middle of the 2022-2023 academic year and as such only 22 percent of students and teachers report that their school has a code of conduct or advisory for AI technologies.

In addition to proper guidance, equity – meaning all students have the same educational opportunities regardless of their background – is another hot topic for teachers and students, with 42 percent of all respondents saying that AI creates a more equitable system and 24 percent saying it has no impact on equity. Comparing teacher and student points of view, 38 percent of students say it creates a more equitable system compared to 47 percent of teachers, continuing the trend of teachers having a generally more positive view of AI and education.

This press release originally appeared online.

Related:
How to teach writing skills in the ChatGPT era
How to redefine learning in the digital age

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