Generative AI in Teaching and Learning Task Force hosts town hall with the College of Arts and Sciences

Participants advocated for the incorporation of AI into the classroom, instead of seeing the technology as oppositional to learning,The Generative AI in Teaching and Learning Task Force hosted their first town hall session over Zoom Monday in partnership with the College’s natural sciences department. Attendants focused on how generative AI can both benefit and harm the learning experience. The task force aims to collect input from attendees to provide a recommendation to the provost defining the University’s policy towards the technology. 

Monday’s town hall kicks off a total of six town halls to be hosted with various schools around Grounds in the coming two weeks. 
The GENAI Task Force was assembled to address rising academic integrity concerns associated with generative AI platforms like ChatGPT, a breakthrough platform initially released in November 2022. 
ChatGPT grew rapidly, reaching 100 million users in just two months, and can do almost anything from solving math problems to writing academic papers. The Honor Committee has already raised concerns over increased cheating possibilities arising from generative AI, and Gabrielle Bray, chair of the Committee and fourth-year College student, serves as a member of the task force.
Some Committee members were hesitant towards generative AI software, citing a concern for a lack of discernment between real assignments and artificially-generated work. Other members were in support of AI usage, but with strong guidelines and limits. 
Andrew Pennock, event host and Assoc. Batten Professor, said AI platforms are becoming incredibly intelligent and far-reaching and students already use them in various ways in and out of the classroom. 
“[Chat GPT] has now passed the bar exam,” Pennock said. “It has gotten A’s across a variety of disciplines. So it’s interesting to think about how students are using it.” 
The Task Force currently consists of seven members from schools and organizations across Grounds, including Assoc. Education Professor Natasha Heny as an additional event host.
The 40 participants — a mix of students and faculty who registered online — were separated into breakout rooms where they discussed how generative AI will disrupt course content, student learning processes and assessments of student learning. 
One breakout session included Assoc. Politics Professor John Echeverri-Gent and Assoc. Public Health Professor Paige Hornsby. Echeverri-Gent specifically said that generative AI platforms may inhibit critical thinking among students. 
“I see it as presenting a fundamental challenge in that my goal for a number of my classes is to teach students how to think critically,” Echeverri-Gent said. “I worry that ChatGPT is substituting for their cognitive processes.” 

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