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Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice: ChatGPT Used by Teachers More Than Students, New Survey (Walton Foundation)

These survey results appeared March 1, 2023.

Teachers use OpenAI’s ChatGPT for lesson planning and to generate creative ideas for classes, according to the first national survey of teachers and students about ChatGPT and technology, released today by the Walton Family Foundation. While much attention has been given to the potential for students to cheat using ChatGPT, teachers surveyed by Impact Research have a much different view of the technology, with the majority seeing an opportunity for it to help accelerate learning.

Key findings include:

  • Within two months of its introduction, a 51% majority of teachers reported using ChatGPT, with 40% using it at least once a week, and 53% expecting to use it more this year. Just 22% of students said they use the technology on a weekly basis or more.
  • Black (69%) and Latino (69%) teachers reported a higher rate of usage.  
  • Teachers are nearly four times more likely to have allowed students to use ChatGPT (38%) than caught them using it without their permission (10%). Only 15% of students admit to using the program without their teachers’ permission. 
  • The majority of students (63%) and teachers (72%) agree that “ChatGPT is just another example of why we can’t keep doing things the old way for schools in the modern world.”
  • Most students think it can help them become better students (68%) and help them learn faster (75%). Teachers agree: 73% say ChatGPT can help their students learn more.

“Educators are innovators,” said Romy Drucker, Director of the Education Program at the Walton Family Foundation. “They recognize the urgency of this moment and want to use every tool at their disposal to meet each students’ unique needs.”

Nearly all teachers (91%) and students (87%) believe technology is important to get students back on track from recent academic losses. The most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress results reveal the pandemic erased nearly two decades of gains in math and reading literacy, with students living in low-income communities experiencing the biggest drops in test scores. Pandemic learning loss is predicted to result in a $14.2 trillion decrease in GDP.

In Illinois teacher Diego Marin’s 8th grade math class, ChatGPT helps provide differentiated support for students at all levels. “ChatGPT is like a personalized 1:1 tutor that is super valuable for students, especially in the math space,” said Marin.

Most teachers (71%) and students (65%) agree that “ChatGPT will be an essential tool for students’ success in college and the workplace,” as many school districts are banning or limiting access to the technology in schools.

“As a young person, I see my future as in some ways limited by computers and algorithms, knowing there are jobs [that can be] replaced by automation,” said Kentucky high school junior Zachary Clifton. “But this is an algorithm I can take advantage of and use it to advance myself … It’s something I can use responsibly and will use responsibly moving forward.”

The survey, which highlights perspectives from more than 2,000 K-12 teachers and students ages 12-17, offers a stark contrast from current debates about ChatGPT in schools. The majority of students (68%) and teachers (73%) agree that ChatGPT can help them learn more at a faster rate. According to the survey, 64% of teachers plan to implement the technology more often, from lesson planning, to creating new ideas, to using it as part of curriculum.

Click here to read the report.

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Larry Cuban

Larry Cuban is a former high school social studies teacher (14 years), district superintendent (7 years) and university professor (20 years). He has published op-...