AI tools help make studying a breeze, say university students

They are of the view that educational institutions must be able to adapt to it despite questions being raised over ethical academic practices.

Junaid Ibrahim and Benjamin Lee

Junaid Ibrahim and Benjamin Lee

the star


Virtual helper: Nurul Awanees Izzatie Abdul Aziz, 22, (left) and another student engaging in a lively conversation with ChatGPT at Universiti Malaya. — AZHAR MAHFOF/The Star

April 12, 2023

PETALING JAYA – For some university students, the AI tool ChatGPT has helped make their learning processes easier.

They are of the view that educational institutions must be able to adapt to it despite questions being raised over ethical academic practices.

International relations student Hafiz Syafiq said ChatGPT helped him understand theories and concepts better while providing information beyond his syllabus.

He acknowledged the concerns about the tool, saying such worries are valid.

“For instance, there might be a higher risk of plagiarism.

“However, there is a software which can identify plagiarised content taken from ChatGPT, which the university can utilise, in addition to using the software Turnitin to detect plagiarism,” he said.

Hafiz, 22, said educators should not ban the technology outright as it has benefits for students.

“Restricting the usage of ChatGPT is like banning Google as a source of information,” he said.

Business diploma student John Mikel Justin Roy, 19, concurred, saying if such search engines were banned, it would make studying unnecessarily difficult and tedious.

He said the ease of using and response speed of ChatGPT had made written assignments a breeze for him and his course mates.

“Usually I would use ChatGPT to find some main points and then add on more details on my own by searching online.

“I can then compile the points together, or use ChatGPT again,” he said, adding he found the anti-plagiarism tools he used were unable to detect his ChatGPT-written paragraphs.

UiTM student Nuramanina Hishamudin, 23, said ChatGPT had been a useful tool to her in collecting specific information within a shorter period of time.

“It helps me to get information more immediately and specifically,” she said.

Nuramanina, who is majoring in science education, is supportive of ChatGPT being accepted in universities as the tool can be of help to both students and lecturers.

“The institutions should adapt to it,” she added.

Other than using ChatGPT for essays, IT students who are required to do programme coding assignments said the AI tool would also benefit them.

Information and communications technology (ICT) diploma student Lim Jet Qiu, 19, said he used ChatGPT frequently to search for solutions to complex bugs he encountered while coding.

“It saves me a lot of time in coding as it can instantly give me the exact coding solution for features to put into my programme for the assignment.

“At the very least, it will give me a guideline on how to build the programme myself which is a lot faster than flipping through my study notes,” he said.

Another frequent ChatGPT user, ICT diploma student Hazeeq Amzar Haslee said he found the service useful at double checking his code for errors.

“It’s really effective at detecting errors or bugs in my coding and giving me solutions to the errors as well, which I would have otherwise probably taken hours to find out.

“I used to dread coding based on horror stories from my seniors on how they spent hours searching for bugs in the code but now it barely takes me a few minutes to do so,” he said, adding that he had begun using ChatGPT for non-academic matters as well.

Finance student Wong Jing Siang said group assignments could be easily completed within a few hours with the help of ChatGPT.

“Once I figure out what I need to search for, ChatGPT will basically do the rest by listing out the points and then turning them into a proper paragraph that looks like it was professionally written.

“We would then just compile all the work of the group members and after paraphrasing a few lines, we use ChatGPT to check for any grammatical errors before submitting it,” he said.

So far, he said none of his ChatGPT-aided assignments had been singled out by plagiarism detecting tools.

“I don’t see any reason to ban ChatGPT as it is not a free ticket to acing assignments. We still have to know what to search for and have to read through and understand the content it provided when we give presentations for assignments,” he added.

A communication student, who only wants to be known as Yen, said she used the software after reading about it on social media.

While the AI tool helped her in getting a general idea for her essay assignment, she felt that the content was too generic.

“The results are very generic so I prefer to do my assignment on my own since I know better the choice of words I want to use,” said Yen, 22.

She has since quit using ChatGPT as she was of the opinion that the tool would encourage plagiarism among students.

She suggests that universities regulate the use of the AI tool.

English literature student Lirhoshini, 23, also agreed for ChatGPT to be regulated to maintain the credibility of the institution of higher learning.

It would also ensure students could work independently without relying on AI tools, she added.

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