ChatGPT in higher education: Striving for equality and academic integrity


By: Joshua Kooijman

In the world of modern education, technology is increasingly seen as a powerful tool to enhance the quality of education. As a student who is exposed to emerging technological trends on a daily basis, I feel the impact of these changes on my educational experience. A notable example of this technological shift is ChatGPT, an advanced language model used for various educational purposes, such as learning support, research guidance, and strengthening writing skills. My recent visit to the AICON LAB has further shaped my perspective on technology and education. The AICON LAB is a collaboration between artists, organizations, students, scientists, and city residents exploring the social implications of AI.

Technology reflects society

During my visit I was deeply inspired by the dynamic collaboration taking place, and a specific piece that caught my attention was Kilo-girls. This artwork highlights that biases, stereotypes, and discrimination are not limited to human experience but can also be inherited by the technologies we create. This inspiration reminds me that technology reflects society. It underscores the need to contemplate the implications of AI. While I understand the potential of ChatGPT to enhance the learning process, I am also not blind to the shadow of opportunity inequality lurking behind this technology.

One of the concerning aspects of using ChatGPT in higher education is the potential to exacerbate opportunity inequality. Although technology theoretically should provide equal access to information, in practice, this access is not equal for everyone. Students with limited access to the internet or who lack the financial means to acquire the latest technological devices risk falling behind.

In addition to the barrier of limited access to technological devices and the internet, the use of the paid advanced versions of ChatGPT also contributes to a gap in opportunities. This advanced variant of ChatGPT promises significant improvements over the basic version, allowing students who can afford it to expect a better experience, rendering better results. This can result in a gap between students with different socioeconomic backgrounds and may exacerbate existing inequality in education.

Striving for an inclusive approach

Therefore, it is essential that we, as students, educators, and policymakers, strive for an inclusive approach to AI in higher education. This means that no student is excluded from using AI tools. We need to create an environment where all students feel welcome to ask questions and participate in AI-related activities, regardless of their background.

This can be achieved by promoting a culture of collaboration, peer support, and respect for diversity. As a student, I see that some students are hesitant to participate in AI-related activities, they do not know how it works and how to use it in a proper, responsible manner. Recently, a fellow student whispered the following to me: ‘I don’t know how ChatGPT works; it looks too difficult.’ I would therefore recommend educational institutions to strengthen the dialogue about AI use within the academic community for students.

We must ensure that all students have equal access to AI-driven learning technologies by offering guides, tutorials, and additional support through workshops and information sessions. It is possible that the current workshops and information sessions on AI-driven learning technologies are not sufficient to the specific needs and concerns of students who are hesitant to participate. It is crucial that initiatives are aimed at reaching a wide range of students, particularly those who feel hesitant or lack familiarity with AI functions.

Academic dishonesty

What concerns me even more is the threat of academic dishonesty associated with the use of ChatGPT. As I struggle to develop my own ideas and arguments, there is always the temptation to use the model’s convenience to quickly complete an assignment. But what is the value of my degree if it does not represent my own work but simply the output of an algorithm? Additionally, I am aware of the inherent biases that may exist in the generated content of ChatGPT. As a member of a minority group, I see the potential dangers of reproducing these biases in our education. The developers of ChatGPT are aware that the model can reinforce cultural and racial biases. The algorithm relies on human data, which are inherently biased. In research I had to conduct on hegemonic masculinity and homosexuality, ChatGPT emphasized traditional gender roles without considering the diverse and evolving nature of gender identity.

The generated content unconsciously contained stereotypical ideas about people with a homosexual orientation. For example, a text was generated describing homosexual men as men with artistic talent, social skills, and more sensitivity. It not only amplifies existing inequalities but can also lead to a lack of inclusivity and diversity. As a student, I advocate for more awareness and action from our educational institutions. We need not only equal access to technology, but also clear guidelines and support to ensure that the use of ChatGPT is fair and ethically responsible.

Accessible and understandable guidelines

In conclusion, I see the potential of AI in higher education. It can contribute to a more personalized and effective learning environment. For example, it can adapt learning processes to individual needs and automate repetitive tasks. It is essential for educational institutions to strive to ensure that the use of these technologies is fair, inclusive, and ethically responsible so that all students have equal opportunities to thrive in higher education. Educational institutions must establish clear guidelines for the use of AI in education, which include ethical use and preventing academic dishonesty.

However, it is also important to ensure that these guidelines reach all students. It is crucial that they are presented in an accessible and understandable manner. For example, they could be communicated through open channels, such as emails, online platforms, and student portals, supported by training and workshops to increase awareness. With this approach, AI can be a catalyst for positive change in higher education, ensuring that all students have equal opportunities to benefit from this technology.

Joshua Kooijman is honours student at Erasmus University Rotterdam and research assistant for AICON LAB and the ‘AI, communication & change’ programme line of the Erasmus Initiative Societal Impact of AI (AiPact). Team Kallenbach advised his AICON LAB experience.