Everyone’s Talking About Generative AI in Higher Education
For a tool that debuted as recently as late November, ChatGPT has done a remarkable job of penetrating the academic consciousness.
Only 21 respondents in total had no familiarity with ChatGPT or generative AI before the survey was sent to them, and 46 percent of respondents said they were either very or extremely familiar with it, a level of familiarity that was consistent among the survey’s four constituent groups: C-level administrators, directors/managers, staff and faculty.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, however, one of those groups had a harsher view: 28 percent of faculty had a pessimistic view of generative AI, more than twice the overall rate, although that group also had the lowest number of neutral responses (21 percent). Nearly half of all faculty members surveyed (49 percent) still said they were optimistic or very optimistic. The other cohorts shared similar rates of optimism, between 54 and 57 percent.
READ MORE: Here are three trends shaping modern higher ed classrooms.
The survey also showed that conversations about generative AI aren’t just limited to social media — where, to be fair, there have been plenty. College and university leaders are already engaged in conversations among themselves, with 75 percent saying the topic has been discussed somewhat, quite a bit or a great deal. Those conversations figure to continue as the AI improves and administrators become more aware of its capabilities.
As for what those conversations are leading to, respondents identified a number of areas where generative AI, including ChatGPT, has already made an impact. Fifty-four percent identified at least one of 13 possible areas of impact offered by the survey’s authors; all of the most common areas were related to instruction: undergraduate teaching (37 percent), teaching and learning centers (32 percent), instructional technology (31 percent), graduate teaching (30 percent) and faculty development (30 percent).
Interestingly, respondents also were asked which areas are most likely to be affected in the future, and the most popular response to that question had nothing to do with instruction. The top two responses: 51 percent said faculty research would be impacted by generative AI sometime in the future, and 52 percent said IT was likely to be impacted.
Given an opportunity to comment further, respondents shared an array of reactions by their universities to ChatGPT, with one saying the institution had already conducted six studies on integrating generative AI. A faculty respondent added that they were already using the tool to “develop course topics.”