Survey: Students Want More Guidance from Teachers on Using AI

Survey: Students Want More Guidance from Teachers on Using AI

Most kids have at least some understanding of what generative artificial intelligence is and how it can be used, but they also want more help from adults in learning how to use the tools properly, concludes a new survey from the nonprofit National 4-H Council, as reported by Education Week.

Before being given a description of AI, most 9- to 17-year-olds were able to express what they think it is and what it can do, the report found. One student said that AI is “able to learn and train to do specific tasks,” and another said that it can make everyday processes “more efficient and effective.”

The nationally representative survey of 1,510 children ages 9-17 was conducted by Hart Research, with support from Microsoft, between Nov. 5-16. It explores knowledge and use of AI technology, specifically generative AI tools like ChatGPT.

“I find very few [students] who can have very in-depth discussions on what AI is and what it’s not, says Joe Fatheree, an education consultant and a former Illinois State Teacher of the Year. “I find that among staff and administration, too,”

Today’s students have grown up in a world where AI technology is embedded into the tools they use daily. Experts say AI is going to become more ubiquitous, so students need to become AI literate and prepare for a future where it is all around them.

While many students are aware of various AI-powered tools and platforms, they don’t use them that often, the survey found. The only tools that a huge majority of kids use daily are search engines. Only 12 percent said they use apps daily that answer questions or write text, a category that ChatGPT would fall under — but 51 percent use them at least once a week. Those who have used ChatGPT say that they’ve mostly used it out of curiosity and to help with homework, the report found.

One-third of those surveyed said they’re not clear about the right way to use ChatGPT as a tool and want teachers to be more involved in guiding them. More generally, 72 percent say they would like to get some help from adults in learning how to use different AI tools, the report found.

These results echo a recent report from the Center for Democracy & Technology that found a wide gap between what students say they want to learn about how to use artificial intelligence responsibly and what schools are teaching them right now.

The National 4-H Council survey also found that kids are aware of the benefits and drawbacks of generative AI. A majority (64 percent) said AI will help them in their future careers, but they also realize that it could hinder their problem-solving skills and pose data privacy challenges.

“It would be nice for there to be more educational opportunities about it,” one educator said. “ChatGPT, those kinds of things, are going to be around our whole lives and we’re probably going to use them in our careers.”

Education Week

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