ChatGPT: A Student Perspective

Technology continues to break barriers and among the upcoming trends, ChatGPT is the new technological showstopper! ChatGPT uses natural language processing to emulate human speech in response to prompts. It has a variety of features from generating stories to brainstorming ideas and answering questions. While ChatGPT is known by many through social media or heard through the grapevine, do you know the AI’s history?  

ChatGPT (Chat Generative Pre-trained Transformer) was released on November 30, 2022. The AI is created by OpenAI – an AI research company whose mission is to develop safe AI for the benefit of humanity. It was trained using supervised learning and reinforcement learning and is now trained by users. Its main feature is supposed to mimic human conversation, yet it can debug computer programs, compose music, author stories, translate languages, and more.

With all the buzz about ChatGPT, Student Technology Assistants wanted to provide some insights on the student perspective of ChatGPT. From uses, to grey areas, these students discuss their findings.

Student Perspectives on ChatGPT

What’s your opinion/findings?

Hi there, I am Minh (she/hers), a Vietnamese junior majoring in Computer Science. Before ChatGPT, I only interact with chatbots in very specific contexts, like Bank of America’s customer service or Microsoft troubleshooting service. With ChatGPT, I am not familiar since I didn’t see a need for it – as a soon-to-be designer, where I have to do hands-on projects rather than academic writing. But soon many UX designers I followed on Medium gradually proved me wrong. ChatGPT can brainstorm ideas and guide design processes much faster than the human brains. We can even consult ChatGPT on the layout of a poster or how to design a computer algorithm. Now I am intimidated, we’ve got a guru and soon it may be even more reliable than a human agent. But for now, as I’m following other industry workers to take advantage of ChatGPT in creating a structure for my work, I believe this tool will enhance my productivity.

Hi, my name is Lina Boughton. I’m a sophomore computer science major with a pathway in digital and visual storytelling. I’m very interested in machine learning, particularly AI in video games, but before this project I had never used ChatGPT.

            I think that ChatGPT is a very powerful tool. As with any new technology, it has its drawbacks and concerns, but nonetheless, it’s incredible! There are so many uses, I couldn’t list them all. I believe that ChatGPT, and similar emerging AI’s, will continue to develop, advance, and be utilized positively.

            In my research, I found that ChatGPT is already being used in many different fields. Real estate agents use it to write property summaries, marketers use it to draft advertisement scripts, and educators use it to create lesson plans, just to name a few examples. Its ability to not just solve but also explain coding problems, debugging issues, and math problems is particularly useful to me. When I asked it to generate and solve a calculus problem for me and it responded with a step-by-step process on how. Similar sites like Mathaway have this ability, but with ChatGPT I was even able to ask it follow-up questions about the properties it used to solve the problem, which was far more helpful. It responded in an understandable way, and I could customize its response by asking it to give me step-by-step instructions.

            Math & other STEM fields are just one way I’ve utilized ChatGPT. I’ve also experimented with its ability to generate works of creative writing. Its abilities here are far less perfected, but still very advanced. In my experiments, it was able to produce a few short plays, TV-episodes, poems, and song lyrics. Being an AI, it is unable to follow cohesive story structure or create coherent/logical/meaningful stories, but it was still impressive. I found that it worked best whenever I supplied it with an interesting, partially formed idea and it filled in some of the details. For example, I told it about an idea for a short story and it filled in the details. Its creativity isn’t as strong as mine, but it’s still fun to mess around with.

            On a more serious note, there are presently concerns that ChatGPT will replace human work and creations. Given my experience with ChatGPT, I don’t think that AI will ever fully replace us. However, these fears aren’t unfounded. As AI art has become a hot topic recently, many artists shared stories of their art being stolen and recreated with AI. AI could cause layoffs, competition, and theft. It definitely needs to be regulated, but overall, I think its benefits are admirable.

Hi, my name is Jessica Israel, and I am a Junior Computer Science major and English minor. The first time I was introduced to the AI ChatGPT, I was scrolling through TikTok. As ChatGPT grew in popularity, I decided to try it from the creative writing perspective.  

My prompt was, “Write a short prologue for an archery adventure” and below is ChatGPT’s response. 

In the dense forest of Eldrid, a lone archer sets out on a perilous journey. His name is Aiden, and he is known throughout the land for his skill with the bow and arrow. But this adventure is unlike any he has faced before. His village has been ravaged by a mysterious force, and he is determined to uncover the truth. With his trusty bow and a handful of arrows, Aiden embarks on a quest to seek answers and bring justice to his people. Along the way, he will face treacherous terrain, dangerous creatures, and unexpected allies. But with every step, he draws closer to the heart of the mystery, and the ultimate showdown that awaits him. Will Aiden prevail, or will the dark forces that threaten his village prove too powerful? Only time will tell in this archery adventure. 

The story starts out decently, but the ending was not written as well, and included the prompt in the response. Usually, Prologues are a preface or an introduction to a work. The way ChatGPT wrote the prologue sounds more like a book synopsis. 

This is how I would rewrite the prologue. 

In the dense forest of Eldrid, a lone archer has been given an assignment by the king’s soldiers to save the land from withering into the world of Never-Before—a province which holds the previous existence of a land and erases it from the knowledge of the earth and its people. Though reluctant to step into a perilous fate, Aiden, is known throughout the land for the mastery of his craft. As he has become one with his defender of choice—a bow and arrow. While he has trained for years, he knows this task will challenge his skills for the reward of nobility or the fall of shame. 

For months, his village has been ravaged by a mysterious force and they expect him to restore Eldrid back to its former glory.  

As Aiden rests, a pounding at the door pulls him from the depths of his slumber. He gets up, dread pumping through his heart and flowing through his veins. Opening the door, cool wind overtakes the warmth of his home.  

He stares face to face with stone-cold eyes attempting to snatch his soul. 

“So,” the thunderous voices echo, “will you accept our offer to fight with honor on behalf of our king, or will you rebel and fall to a fate of your own demise?” 

In this rewrite, I changed ChatGPT’s response to become a recognized structure of a prologue. This version also gives context for what will happen in the story rather than a summary.  

While ChatGPT can write, I don’t believe it will be taking jobs from authors and storytellers anytime soon. I believe even artificial writing needs the human touch to create a story that connects with readers.  I do believe ChatGPT can be useful for writers when they are having writer’s block, or creating story ideas and can bring beauty to the world of creative writing. 

Educational Technology asked the student body their thoughts! With a limited number of formal responses, we understand that these responses aren’t comprehensive, but they do provide some insight, and seem to confirm some of the less formal conversations we’ve had with students on the topic.

Overall, students are hearing about ChatGPT from Social Media and from word-of-mouth among friends. Even still, 84.62% of respondents had never used it in any academic or learning capacity. Of the 15.38% who had, they explicitly stated they had used it to better understand a homework concept, or braistorm an idea to get them started.

84.62% of respondents had never used ChatGPT
Have you used ChatGPT for learning or another project?

When discussing the use of ChatGPT in educational settings, respondents admitted that while they saw the implications for the classroom, the program has it’s limitations. In responses with imagined use, known use, or personal use, they overwhelmingly responded that the AI was best for getting a student over the “mental block” of where to start on an assignment. Only 2 responses said they had used it in help with their homework, another said homework help was how their roommate had used ChatGPT previously. When discussing limitations students admitted that while ChatGPT could sound reasonably realistic, 5 responses admitted that it often falls short when writing nuances or writing creatively.

15.38% said no, 46.15% said yes and 38.56% said sometimes/somewhat
Do you think ChatGPT sounds realistic when writing?

The majority of respondents said they wouldn’t choose to use ChatGPT for academic assignments. In the few responses that would, they thought they would use it sparingly. Of those who planed to use it, it was to engage in better research practices, brainstorming projects, and learning new topics, software, and concepts faster. Students who wanted to use AI generally, stated that they may use AI image and art generators to create more interactivity in projects that weren’t graded for their artwork, and instead were enhanced by it, so they could focus on the content of the assignment. One response had used such a technique in the classroom – as instructed – to provide artwork to their content, without having to create it by hand and take working time away from the concept of their assignment overall.

76.29% said they would not use it in their classroom assignments
If you haven’t used it yet, do you plan to use it for learning other projects?

Ultimately, students were uneasy or excited about the power of AI, and understood the implications not only in education, but in the workforce overall. It was generally understood that simply turning in a paper or prose written by ChatGPT was academic misconduct and a form of cheating, and that over reliance on technology could lead to greater struggles in the future. Discussions of AI art generators dealing in art theft, and research lacking in direct citations were common among responses, and it seemed that the students limited their use to inspiration and tutoring when ChatGPT usage came up in the classroom. As for the future of AI in the workforce, most respondents stated that ChatGPT could, or absolutely would, change the way they interact with technology in the workforce, but always noted that the human-element was still important for “style” and “empathy” in writing.

38.46% said yes, 38.46% said Maybe and 23.08% said no
Do you think ChatGPT will effect the skills you need going into future careers?

It’s important to note student responses and criticisms when it comes to ChatGPT and other AI fears in our classrooms. While instructors may be fearful that students will use ChatGPT to cheat, their students seem to understand the importance of turning in original work, only using these upcoming AI to brainstorm, or enhan

Using ChatGPT and PowerPoint Designer

By Lina Boughton

This process took me 1 hour to complete. Asking ChatGPT for each specific slide content took about 20 minutes, as I had to wait for it to generate each time. Asking ChatGPT for the 10-slide layout, inputting the information, and using PowerPoint Design to create the layouts took about 10 minutes each. Overall, it was a rather tedious process.

Using ChatGPT to write slides for me feels like plagiarism. If I were to give a presentation, I wouldn’t even know what I was talking about. It was an AI’s work, not mine. (It’s also worth noting that many presentations, especially in school, have specific guidelines and information that you’re supposed to hit. ChatGPT can give you general information on a topic, but I think it would need much more specific prompting to fulfill those requirements. I don’t think ChatGPT could so easily be used to generate specific school presentations.)

Using ChatGPT to get a 10-slide outline, however, feels much more like I’m receiving assistance from the technology, rather than abusing it. Similarly, PowerPoint Designer is a tool, not plagiarism. People would be able to use these tools to inspire, create outlines, and structure their presentations. At the end of the day, I believe that the content of the work is the most important.

From the user’s end, my largest issue was with PowerPoint Design. It is limited in its designing capabilities. It doesn’t seem to know how to stick to a theme (motifs, shapes, images, design principles, color scheme, etc.). It gave me lots of professional looking slides, but not a cohesive presentation. Nor did it have any font customization. Ideally, I could choose the fonts, color schemes, and theme for the overall presentation and then choose each slide’s individual colors (derived from that color scheme), layout, and images.

STAs write for The Voice