LOVELAND, Colo. — When ChatGPT entered the artificial intelligence market in November 2022, there were immediate concerns about how it would be used to cheat in educational settings. The technology has performed everything from writing essays to passing college entrance exams.
At Loveland Classical Schools, teacher Tim Smith said students took notice right away.
“I saw students that were turning in papers that had AI in them,” Smith said.
He turned it into a teaching opportunity, by having ChatGPT write a paper in front of his 9th grade classical history class. The class discussed it and decided the paper deserved a B plus.
Smith said the temptation to cheat is real, so he warned students of the importance of turning in their own original work.
“I’ve already collected handwritten samples that I had them do in the classroom so I can get a baseline of where this students writing is,” Smith said.
He acknowledged it might require changing assignments, comparing it to how math changed when calculators were invented.
“I think it will mean that we have to adjust our assignments, but our assignments will become more focused on the human aspect more than on rote memorization or recreating knowledge,” Smith said.
But it goes beyond just preventing cheating.
Smith is leaning into the Socratic seminar method of teaching and learning, where students engage in discussions. He also asks students to use primary sources like the United States Constitution and court cases, rather than just textbooks, to develop their own thoughts on the topics they're studying.
“As society outsources the ability to think, to write and communicate, our students are practicing those skills every single day,” Loveland Classical Schools Executive Director Ian Stout said.
Alithea Thye is a senior at Loveland Classical Schools. She said their discussions in class help her better express her own viewpoints and understand others.
“It makes me feel like I need to be a better person,” she said.
Smith hopes most students will take those bigger lessons about humanity from his classes.