AI as a Tool for Academic (and Technical) Improvement

Over the last three years, I have been both an undergraduate student and a teacher. I began my studies completely aloof to AI and I ignored the rush toward ChatGPT. Roughly a year ago, I was teaching an Ontario high school Creative Writing Course, and my student approached me to let me know he had used AI to help him brainstorm one of his assignments. Knowing this student’s background and aptitude toward finding the effortless way through his assignments, I was hesitant and thought, perhaps, he simply cheated on the assignment.

Later that day, when I read his submission, to my surprise, I saw some immediate improvements in his writing that I had been asking him to practice over the previous months. His grammar had improved, his sentences were richer, and his message was clearer and more concise. Above all, the creativity that this student brought to the table was immediately clearer, better communicated, and he moved significantly closer to the effect he was previously struggling to attain.

When speaking with my student later, he informed me that he used ChatGPT as a peer to bounce ideas off of. Rather than asking the chat bot to write his short story for him, he would paste a paragraph or two from what he had already written and asked the AI for specific feedback. One of the pieces of feedback he asked for was simply what are the characteristics of this excerpt? Followed up by how can I achieve X effect instead? For the most part, the bot offered helpful answers, suggesting methods, strategies, and linguistic support rather than preparing an original text for my student. This is the support one typically seeks from peers, teachers, and tutors, offered quickly and effortlessly by the AI, lowering the time and labor cost that accompanies such student aid.

Having since used this same method myself, I feel that I have become a stronger and more independent writer. I certainly do not need to consult AI chat bots every time I write something, but I often do consult AI grammar and tone tools when I write to make sure that I don’t miss something in the rush to produce.

When used as a learning and skill-building aid, AI can be an incredibly helpful tool for students, academics, employees, and anybody else who needs to prepare a text. Where AI becomes dangerous is when the user takes its advantages for granted, expecting the tool to produce the best or most effective text and using it right out. When used, instead, as a means to improve our writing, hone our skills, and to bounce ideas off of, we can genuinely improve our overall communication skills and output. But this improvement requires a commitment from the part of the user toward learning from the AI rather than relying upon it.

About the`s Scholarship Winner

Rion Levy

Rion Levy

I am a graduating HBA student from the University of Toronto. I pursued a specialist in literature and critical theory, a minor in semiotics and material culture, and a citation in Spanish. My thesis explored the life and works of Peter Orlovsky. I spent most of my undergrad pursuing various research and creative projects, including my first book, Poems of the End Times, published May 2023 by Olympia Publishers.

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