The AI tool has taken the world and the education field by storm. While the digital assistant may seem very simple there are many things to look out for before you start using it to ensure that you are utilising the resource effectively and honestly.
What is ChatGPT?
ChatGPT, in essence, is a free online companion ready to answer any question or thought that may spawn in your head. It is a natural language processing tool meaning it is able to have human-like conversations. But is much more than just a chatbot. It was developed in November 2022 by OpenAI with much frustration to the academic world.
The AI tool is able to write emails, analyse texts, draft letters and proofread work in record time. ChatGPT was trained with a colossal amount of text from the internet, which is like having read all the books, articles and websites in the world. It interprets this information on its own and uses it to give you a quick response that is eerily human-like.
The only problem is that its knowledge is limited up until September 2021, meaning it is not able to provide up to date knowledge. OpenAI has announced that it has updated the software to make it have current knowledge but this feature is only available to Plus subscribers ($20/month) but will “roll out soon” for free users. So its not 100% accurate all the time and you should always use it with a grain of salt.
How to use ChatGPT to maximise studying?
Given the ease with which ChatGPT can generate an answer with such quality and precision, it is easy to get caught up in its aura. But really it is just another tool we should use to advance our knowledge rather than replace it.
- Supplement learning
While ChatGPT is able to write whole English essays and get you an okayish maybe passing mark, it isn't really benefiting you in the long run.
Using it completely hinders your own critical thinking skills which is detrimental long term. If you used ChatGPT to write all your work without giving it a second thought then when it comes to exam time you will not have the necessary skills to succeed.
That's why you should use it only to supplement your learning. When you have a writing task do it yourself first to the best of your ability. Once satisfied, THEN turn to ChatGPT to see if they have a different perspective. You can use it to help you generate ideas and reconsider your work through different perspectives.
ChatGPT can also be used to kickstart an assignment that you are feeling completely lost on. Say you are stuck on a creative writing task and have no idea what to write about. Ask ChatGPT for a list of short story titles or stimulus pieces that would help launch your idea. In this way, you can use the AI model as your collaborative partner helping you brainstorm ideas and research the task before you take the reins.
3. Study partner
The AI tool can be especially useful while studying for a content-heavy subject. While studying for my physics exams, I asked it to create a list of study questions that vary in difficulty based on what I had just learned. This helped me consolidate the knowledge I just learned in class.
If you are stuck on a math problem you can even use it as your own personal digital tutor. You can ask them to walk you through the question or provide worked solutions to guide you through the problem. Even better, you can ask ChatGPT to reteach you that topic again.
4. Ask for sources
A hard (and annoying) part of writing an academic paper is the research that goes into it, especially when having to find sources. Here’s where ChatGPT comes in as it can point you in the direction of some good sources for your topic.
I asked for it to find me some sources on the downfall of the Roman Empire to which it listed out 10 sources with the titles and a brief description. Beware that it may not be 100% accurate and you should always check the sources on your own.
In this way, you are utilising ChatGPT to supplement and enhance your learning rather than inhibit it. Just like a tutor would!!
Do’s and Don’ts of ChatGPT
- Do use it to support your learning, this will help you in the long run.
- Do check your own responses with their answers. This also helps you solidify your own work.
- Do use other sources while conducting research. It is not always going to give the answer you want.
- Do experiment with prompts. Knowing what prompts to give is a huge part of helping the software get to the answer you want.
- Don’t have it do all your work for you, you won’t be learning.
- Don’t plagiarise what it produces, this is academic dishonesty.
- Don’t assume whatever it says is 100% right, it is not perfect. Treat it like any other source, meaning cross reference the knowledge.
- Don’t get frustrated with it. Give the chatbot time and hone your prompts to get the best out of the program.
While we all would love to have an all-knowing and perfect AI companion, that is simply not feasible at the moment. The technology is only a few years old and is being updated on a day-to-day basis. However, that does not mean you cannot use it to support you in your studies. It should be used like any other source just like a textbook, something that expands on your knowledge rather than replaces it.
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Written by KIS Academics Private Tutor for IB Physics, Chemistry, Biology and English, Muhammad Ammar. Muhammad will be pursuing a future in medicine and has received stellar reviews from his past KIS Academics students. You can view Muhammad’s profile here and request him as a tutor.