Go head-to-head with ChatGPT to enhance your students’ personal learning

Pitting yourself against artificial intelligence can enhance your students’ motivation and critical thinking. Eric Tsui shows how

Eric Tsui's avatar
20 Dec 2023
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Generative artificial intelligence (G-AI) has taken the world by storm over the past year. While many other institutions have focused solely on implementing G-AI tools in education, at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU), we have also adopted ChatGPT as a gamification tool, motivating students and enhancing their domain knowledge, critical thinking and reasoning skills. Our ChatGPT v Professor Competition is a fun way for students to engage in a subject and for teachers to gain a deeper understanding of their students’ learning.

Encourage critical thinking and logical reasoning

We developed the ChatGPT v Professor Competition to examine how G-AI could be adopted in education and improve students’ critical thinking and reasoning skills. The professor and ChatGPT took turns providing their responses to commonly asked questions on a subject, and students voted for the best ones.

By comparing the human and the machine responses, students gained a deeper understanding of the chatbot’s capabilities and limitations, enhancing their critical thinking and reasoning skills, while also evaluating their own knowledge of the subject.

Overall, ChatGPT was seen to provide a fairly comprehensive summary in its responses, which effectively supplemented the human response on several occasions. However, its responses can be dated because it relies on the sources and volume of data it was trained on. The latest version of ChatGPT can access real-time data, but this does not mean that it can incorporate the data into its learning.

While ChatGPT is an excellent source for student learning, providing vast amounts of data and timely information, students should also conduct additional research when fact-finding.

Enhance students’ motivation and communication skills

The ChatGPT v Professor Competition can also serve as a way to interact with overseas institutions and to collect different views on the same set of questions. We carried out the ChatGPT v Professor Competition as part of our Global Classroom activities, where students from PolyU and a foreign institution attended an online class together. The benefits of this activity exceeded our expectations, as feedback from the students involved shed light on the cultural differences between them. For example, usually introverted Asian students were more willing to share their thoughts during this activity, realising that the professor’s responses to the questions might be incomplete, obsolete or just wrong. ChatGPT could fill in the gaps, providing comparatively accurate and up-to-date information.

Improve the quality of teaching

By using the ChatGPT v Professor Competition and discussing the results, educators can gain a better understanding of students’ progress, ability to articulate concepts and any misconceptions they may have. They can use it to refine or revise teaching methods, content and pedagogies based on this information – and respond more effectively to the same questions in the future.

Teachers as well as students can learn more about the strengths and weaknesses of ChatGPT and G-AI tools in general. The ChatGPT v Professor Competition is discipline-independent and, as such, can be used for any subject and at various levels. It can also be combined with other initiatives – for example, we have organised the same competition in two Global Classrooms, enabling us to analyse the cultural factors influencing responses among students from various countries.

ChatGPT has proved to be an effective gamification tool to stimulate students’ disciplinary learning, metacognition development and critical thinking. We believe the ChatGPT v Professor Competition initiative provides a win-win-win for students, teachers and institutions, strengthening student motivation and personal learning and improving the quality of teaching.

Eric Tsui is a senior project fellow at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

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