Schools will need help to cope with AI-generated homework, computing teachers warn

LONDON (Feb. 23, 2023) — Schools are unprepared for the impact of ChatGPT on teaching and learning – but rather than banning AI they need support to harness its potential, according to computing teachers.

Research conducted by BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, with its Computing at School (CAS) network of teachers, found that 62% said chatbots like ChatGPT will make it harder to mark students’ work fairly.

The majority (56%) of the 124 computing teachers in the study did not think their school had a plan to manage incoming use of ChatGPT by pupils. 33% said the early discussions had taken place and a further 11% said a plan was being formed.

ChatGPT is a large language model (LLM) which can answer questions in a seemingly natural way, and is trained on a massive data set. It has been shown to be able to create passing grade answers at university level, but it is fallible. A recent public demo by Google’s own AI service, Bard, produced a wrong answer.

Over three-quarters of computing teachers (78%) rated the general awareness of the capabilities of ChatGPT among colleagues at their school or college as ‘low’ or ‘very low’.

ChatGPT is a tool that will improve teaching

However, 45% of the computing teachers were confident ChatGPT is a tool that will improve teaching in their school, long-term. For example, helping to plan assignments and support students with research techniques.

Julia Adamson, MD for Education and Public Benefit, at BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT said: “Assuming these generative AI programmes remain freely accessible, teenagers are going to use them to answer homework assignments - just like adults will come to rely on them at work.

“Computing teachers want their colleagues to embrace AI as a great way of improving learning in the classroom. However, they think schools will struggle to help students evaluate the answers they get from chatbots without the right technical tools and guidance.

“Calculators used to be banned from exams but are now mandatory. We need to bring machine learning into mainstream teaching practice, otherwise children will be using AI for homework unsupervised without understanding what it’s telling them.

“Another danger is that the digital divide is only going to get wider if better-off parents can pay for premium services from chatbots – and get better answers.”

The Computing at School (CAS) network has published its ‘ChatGPT for Teachers’ guide, written by a computing teacher, as part of its free library of resource materials.

About the Study
This report was generated on 03/02/23. 124 Computer Science teachers, belonging to the Computing at School (CAS) network, completed this questionnaire created by BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, during the period 19 January to 2 February 2023.