ChatGPT: a useful tool for students

ChatGPT: a useful tool for students
Veda Tonneson is a junior with majors in English and journalism.

The ethical implications of Artificial Intelligence programs like ChatGPT have been causing some chaos for university professors and faculty. Here’s the big question: Should ChatGPT be allowed in educational settings, and if so, what crosses the line?

I’ve heard a broad range of arguments, from advocating for the occasional use of AI programs to rants about ethical accountability. In my opinion, there is a time and a place for ChatGPT, and school should be one of those places.

Let me start off by saying that I don’t condone putting in the least amount of effort possible to get by. College is a time to work hard and push yourself, so you leave a more well-rounded and aware person. However, there are times when you need a little extra help with your work, and that is nothing to be ashamed of.

I can’t count the number of times that I have tried to work on a paper and can’t come up with a good thesis. Sometimes, even if I get a basic topic down, I can only think of two strong points and lack a third. I believe that this is a great time to use an AI program like ChatGPT to nudge me down the right path.

It’s not like I am having AI write my whole paper. I’m just getting topic suggestions. I could ask a classmate for advice on my thesis without worrying about academic dishonesty, so what is the harm in asking AI to generate potential essay topics for my paper?

As a writing tutor, I see a lot of students who struggle with thesis statements and outlines. To me, this is a great opportunity to use programs like ChatGPT. By generating examples of thesis statements and outlines, students can learn how to effectively craft these things on their own.

Another great use of ChatGPT is helping with writing academic language. Not everyone was taught what acceptable language conventions are in the world of academia, and no one should be penalized for that. Using an AI program to help you write formally isn’t cheating. You’ve already done the work of writing; you just need help making sure that your words fit the assignment.

Using ChatGPT to help understand complex topics is also a useful, ethical perk of this program. Not everything you read in college is going to make sense. Some topics are too complex, and it can be devastating to write an essay on a topic that you don’t understand. Using ChatGPT to explain or summarize something you need to write about will give you a leg up and a chance to craft a thoughtful essay.

ChatGPT is even useful for more experienced writers. Imagine you have a paper due soon and are the kind of person who likes to outline your essays. Asking ChatGPT to draft up an outline for you will save you time and allow you to get started writing sooner.

If you already know how to write an outline, it’s not like you’re using AI to cheat your way out of doing something hard. It just helps you knock out those preliminary steps that take up time. If you aren’t turning in the outline for credit, then it shouldn’t even matter anyways.

Yes, there are still some instances where using a program like ChatGPT is unethical. Asking it to write an essay about something like World War I and just turning it in without a second glance is obviously wrong. However, I believe there is nothing wrong with using ChatGPT to help construct a solid thesis statement or outline for your paper.

Students still have to do a majority of the work themselves, but sometimes help with the introductory steps can generate more ideas. There is a difference between using AI to cheat and using it to learn, and I think that is a key difference we need to be aware of.