Using artificial intelligence in your studies


Artificial intelligence (AI) is used in many of the technologies we rely on every day to perform tasks that typically require human intelligence. AI-based technologies are currently utilized for a wide range of everyday activities, including communication (predictive text), navigation (e.g., electronic maps like Google Maps), and information retrieval (e.g., search engines like Google). Generative AI can be employed to produce new content, such as poetry, programming code, or artwork, which would typically require human creativity.

While various applications and tools use AI to provide guidance or generate content that can be beneficial for academic studies, it is crucial to use these resources responsibly and ethically. It is vital to recognise the risks and limitations of AI technologies and to understand when it is not appropriate to use these in your studies.

ChatGPT in the news

One example of generative AI is ChatGPT, an AI chatbot that can generate realistic and engaging conversations on any topic. The release of ChatGPT by OpenAI in late 2022 has drawn much attention in the media and talk of ChatGPT can be found just about everywhere, from the news to YouTube to TikTok.

Everyone is now talking about ChatGPT and sharing their experiences of ways in which they have used it to help them in their daily work. Because ChatGPT and other large language models, such as Bing, can produce remarkably human-like responses, there has been a lot of speculation about what impact this tool might have on teaching and learning.

Are Large Language Models Reliable?

In general, large language models like ChatGPT and Bing can be considered reliable for certain tasks and within certain contexts, but their reliability should always be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. 

These models are trained on large amounts of data and can provide valuable insights and predictions, but their accuracy and relevance can vary depending on the specific task or context, resulting in false responses.  

See the response from ChatGPT below.

A screenshot from ChatGPT, where the chatbot as said that it is possible that it can can incorrect answers to a prompt

Google's AI chatbot makes error in first demo

Google's recently launched an AI-powered chatbot that provided an incorrect answer in a promotional video, leading to investors decreasing the value of Alphabet, Google's parent company, by over $100 billion (£82 billion). This has resulted in an embarrassing situation for Google.

Read the article.

You should always fact-check and verify any information generated by an AI language model.

It is important to use these tools only to support your own critical thinking skills, not as a substitute for them.

How do I use Artificial Intelligence ethically?

Be informed!

Using AI ethically requires thoughtful consideration and attention to a variety of factors. Here are some general guidelines to consider:

Be transparent: If you are using AI to make decisions or automate processes that affect people, it is important to be transparent about how you are using AI.

Use AI for guidance and support: Large language models are not a replacement for critical thinking: AI-powered tools and resources can help with various aspects of your studies, such as initial fact-finding, constructing a framework, summarizing information, or proofreading. However, it is important to use these tools as a supplement to one's own critical thinking skills and not as a substitute for them.

Discrimination and bias: Large language models are only as unbiased as the data they are trained on, and can perpetuate biases and discriminatory attitudes if the data used to train them is biased or incomplete. You should be mindful of this when using large language models to avoid perpetuating harmful stereotypes or marginalizing groups of people.

Protect privacy: AI often requires access to large amounts of personal data to function effectively, but it is important to protect people's privacy and security when collecting and using this data.

Overreliance on technology: Large language models can be a useful tool, but you should not rely too heavily on them. It is important that develop your own critical thinking and problem-solving skills, and to use technology as a supplement rather than a replacement for these skills.

FAQ list

  • Where your module convenor has permitted its use.  Please check your assignment instructions carefully to ensure artificial intelligence is permitted in the way you’re using it. If you are unsure, please check with your module convener.
  • If referenced or acknowledged (for use of examples or images in assignments).

It is important to note that presenting AI-generated text or images as your own work constitutes a form of plagiarism.   

  • The use of any type of generative artificial intelligence tools (such as text generating, image generating, computer software generating, and translators) is not permitted in your assignment unless your module convenor has explicitly specified that their use is permitted.
  • When using generative AI tools (for example, ChatGPT, Bing or DALL-E) to assist with your assignments, it is critical that you acknowledge the use of these tools and appropriately attribute all AI-generated content in your work. Failing to do so is a violation of academic integrity and would constitute an academic offence as stated under Annex 10 of the credit framework for taught courses.

Remember, the purpose of assignments is to assess your own skills and knowledge, and using AI to produce content goes against this fundamental principle.  

  • Using AI tools as the sole source of information when researching for assignments. Large language models (such as ChatGPT and Bing) can generate false information or opinions that are not supported by facts or evidence. You should always fact-check and verify any information generated by a language model before using it in your work.
  • Using Large language models (such as ChatGPT and Bing) to revise for exams is not recommended, as the text created can be incorrect.

Please note

Please check your assessment instructions carefully on your modules to ensure artificial intelligence is permitted in the way you’re using it.  

How can AI help my learning

1. To get basic writing feedback

You can use ChatGPT to receive quick feedback on your writing. This can help make revisions and improvements to your work faster.  

Example prompt:

  • Please give me feedback on my writing. Please list any grammatical errors, and suggest any improvements. Please do the same for vocabulary. [Paste your writing].
  • Please give me feedback on my writing. It’s a formal email to a manager, so please check the register and appropriacy of vocabulary and grammar. Please give me a list of suggestions. [Paste your writing].

2. Debating/discussion generation

When developing your argument or claim for a paper or assignment, consider asking ChatGPT to refute your ideas. 

This can be a great way to get feedback on the content of your work and strengthen your original argument during the writing and revision process. By actively engaging with potential objections or counterarguments, you'll be able to develop a more robust and persuasive argument overall.  

Example Prompt:

  •  Can you provide a counterargument to my claim that [insert your claim or argument here]? I would like to use your response as a means of strengthening my original argument and improving my writing and revision process.  

Seeking help

Though generative artificial intelligence may make studying seem easier, using these tools to do all the work for you will be detrimental to your learning and career. There is also no guarantee that content generated by artificial intelligence is reliable, true, correct or of sufficient standard and quality to pass an assignment. 

Generative artificial intelligence picks data based on its algorithms and how they have been trained. You have the knowledge and skill to carefully select the appropriate information and critically engage with it in a way that simply isn’t possible for technology to do. These critical skills are vital for your studies and for your future. 

Key Point

It's important to remember that as you progress through your studies, you will incrementally acquire skills through assignments and assessments that you will need to use later. Skipping this important step by relying too heavily on AI may come back to haunt you when faced with more advanced tasks, such as writing a dissertation 

If you need assistance with your assessments or any part of your studies, there are lots of places you can go for support.

Student Learning Advisory Service

SLAS offer study skills, writing, maths, assignment and revision support to all students, from foundation to PhD. Whether you are studying part-time, full-time or on an apprenticeship programme, our workshops and 1-1 appointments, delivered both online and face-to-face, will help you achieve your academic potential  

Library Research Skills

A Moodle module which covers key library research skills to support your studies and employability. 
You can work your way through the whole module or pick and choose sections depending on the skills you need to develop  

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