SP24 Student-led Artificial Intelligence Panel Discussion

On February 26, 2024, the QC Learning Commons hosted a student-led AI panel discussion in collaboration with student clubs. 5 student panelists from various majors shared their experience and insights about artificial intelligence, along with how they utilized GenAI tools in their academic studies, ethical concerns, and future perspectives. The event concluded with an audience Q&A.

Scroll down to explore event pictures and what panelists have discussed during the event.

Event Pictures

Panelist Says

Introduction to AI Tools: “Can each of you briefly share how you first started using generative AI tools, such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT or Microsoft Copilot, in your academic work? What motivated you to explore these tools?”

Hovendra: “In August 2022, my engagement with technology news through social media platforms led me to discover the invitation to test ChatGPT. Intrigued, I promptly registered for the waitlist. Upon its release, I commenced experimenting with ChatGPT, utilizing it to generate simulations of tests and quizzes to facilitate my learning in Accounting. I was profoundly impressed by ChatGPT’s capability to distill complex subjects into comprehensible explanations. My interest in ChatGPT was piqued both by its demonstrated utility and the surrounding excitement in the tech community.”

Kirk: “I first started using AI because it was trending, and my roommate shared it with me. I used it to explore and understand what it was. I never knew it would become integral in my life after that. I started using OpenAI’s ChatGPT and recently, study fetch. I realized it can be used to make complex topics simpler and help with studying and organizing my notes among many other things. I was motivated to explore these tools, because as technology advances so must we, or we get left behind. If there are tools that can be used to optimize our daily lives, then we should make use of them.”

Jorge: “I began using AI tools from the start of my academic journey. I started my degree Fall 2022 and finished Fall 2023 in Computer Science. I started with ChatGPT and used it as a personal assistant/tutor, teaching me how to program from the basics. It was very helpful in teaching me programming skills in a very approachable and simple way.”

Lia: “So I personally have more experience reading ChatGPT and AI assignments than I really do playing with the tools myself. Mainly, I started messing around with AI to prevent myself from falling behind the curve. Seeing the Academic Integrity notices go out about it’s rampant use in academics, it was really important to me to stay current to what was going on around me. I am also a user of Bing, and their implementation of the Copilot AI into their search engine has made it really easy for me to look toward it for suggestions and whatever I may want some AI assistance with.”

Justin: “I originally first started using AI just to mess around, but then I realized its degree of usefulness. I was able to have GPT assist me in scanning documents and doing research, which was a game changer for me and is something that should be promoted to boost student efficiency! Additionally, I used it as a tutor, as I cannot afford private tutoring like other students. I was able to feed questions to this new and free “private tutor” in order to increase my understanding of complex topics that I wouldn’t have been able to understand just by attending class normally.”

Practical Applications: “What are some specific ways you’ve incorporated generative AI tools into your study or research processes within your fields of Computer Science, Accounting, and Biology & Psychology?”

Hovendra: “I have adopted ChatGPT as both a personal assistant and tutor, leveraging its capabilities whenever I encounter challenges in composing emails or solving intricate homework problems. In such instances, I consult ChatGPT, seeking its assistance to simplify and elucidate complex concepts. As a study companion, ChatGPT proves invaluable in reinforcing understanding of various concepts and formulas, significantly enhancing my learning experience.”

Kirk: “I have used ChatGPT to help me “flesh out” an idea I may have in my head but don’t know how to exactly formulate it into words. Additionally, I have used it to create outlines to guide my writing or ask for critiques on how to improve something I’ve done. I have used it to explain a concept in more simple terms, so I can understand the concept before I understand the complexities of a topic. For instance, in Biochemistry, I have used it to understand Enzyme kinetics.

Another use is to create a sheet of terms/definitions when studying. For instance, you can take a paragraph from a textbook with unfamiliar scientific jargon and ask it to create a sheet of definitions.”

Jorge: “AI Tools for Computer Science come naturally for the subject as AI is a branch of Computer Science. AI is integrated into our development environments through GitHub Copilot and externally using chatGPT for debugging code. Copilot is an advanced autofill, which generates code blocks based off comments or through context by reading your code. Copilot chat is an extension of that, being a chatbot to talk with when coding.”

Lia: “For Psychology 213W, Experimental Psychology specifically, the most practical application of generative AI is for the brainstorming segment. It is a writing heavy course, and it can be difficult to grasp such dense information. If you put in a very general topic, and ask an AI to summarize what the key points of it are for you, having succinct bullet points on what to look out for when you venture out on your own independent research can be incredibly helpful. In that way, seeing those key points can help lead you in getting to your main idea or crafting a hypothesis that will guide the writing of the rest of the assignment. Using a tool like Copilot also has citations built in, so you can see where the data is being scraped from as well, which provides some supplemental helping material.”

Justin: “I have heavily incorporated generative AI tools in my studies and research to better prepare myself for internship interviews and exams. Most of the time I was stuck on how I should prepare for an upcoming interview/exam, and when I was I simply asked GPT to generate practice questions for me. This allowed me to ace my interviews to get offers, and ace my exams to maintain an excellent GPA!”

Improving Efficiency: “How have generative AI tools helped you become more efficient in your academic journey? Can you providean example of a task that these tools have significantly streamlined for you?” 

Hovendra: “A prime example of how these tools have streamlined my tasks is in the preparation of financial statements and understanding tax legislation. For instance, when faced with the daunting task of analyzing a multinational corporation’s financial statements for a case study, I turned to ChatGPT for assistance. By inputting the raw financial data and my objectives, the AI provided a step-by-step breakdown of the process, including calculating key financial ratios, interpreting the results, and even offering insights into potential areas of financial risk and opportunity within the corporation’s financials. This not only saved me countless hours of manual calculations but also helped me to understand the practical application of financial ratios in real-world analysis.”

Kirk: “Generative AI tools have made me more efficient by guiding me to understand complex concepts faster and to create study outlines/research outlines that make my work faster. It has also made creating schedules easier, for instance, I upload all my syllabi and ask ChatGPT to create a schedule of all my exams, midterms, and finals including dates, room, and times if applicable.”

Jorge: “Generative AI tools helped me become more efficient in my academic journey through helping me debug specific issues in my code without searching through countless Stack Overflow posts and random blogs in order to find my answer. Rather than searching, I can simply prompt chatGPT with my code and it’ll tell me exactly what I did wrong, and suggest a correction.”

Lia: “Many companies have started using AI in their AutoCorrect tools, so that is a huge part of our academic lives. For me, as a former Student Leader, using generative AI to help develop new and exciting potential events with the student body for the QC Psychology Association Club was really helpful in thinking outside of the box and streamlining the process of getting events going. I’m more fond of task manager tools like Google Calendar for expediting my scheduling, when the AI can predict what events I want to recur in my calendar that saves me time as well.”

Justin: “Generative AI tools have helped me become more efficient in my academic journey by significantly reducing the time I spend having to do research. Generative AI can quickly sift through vast amounts of data, summarizing research papers and highlighting relevant information. This capability significantly reduced the time needed for reviews and finding sources for a paper. For example, I had to write an essay that used direct quotes from a text that was assigned. I had found a few quotes but I was not sure if they were exactly relevant to the text, so I had GPT read my essay and the paper so that it could tell me if my quotes were relevant. This saved me a lot of time as I did not have to reread the entire text again or spend hours trying to match my essay’s arguments with potentially relevant quotes.”

Ethical and Academic Integrity Concerns: “What ethical considerations or academic integrity issues should students be aware of when using generative AI tools for their coursework or research? How do you navigate these concerns?”

Hovendra: “When using generative AI tools for coursework or research, students must navigate ethical and academic integrity concerns by attributing AI assistance to avoid plagiarism, using AI to supplement rather than replace learning to maintain understanding and mastery, critically evaluating AI-generated content for accuracy, adhering to ethical standards and academic guidelines to maintain integrity, being cautious with personal data to protect privacy, and enhancing rather than substituting their writing and critical thinking skills. These practices ensure responsible use of AI, helping students to leverage these tools effectively while preserving originality, understanding, and ethical integrity in their academic endeavors.”

Kirk: “There has been an increase in academic dishonesty with the increase in AI use. Students should use AI as a means of guidance/navigation, not to explicitly do their writing, exams, or for cheating purposes. For instance, for writing, AI should be used to create guidelines and outlines and not explicitly write your work. When it comes to writing, one’s reliance on Grammarly and AI can be counterproductive because your writing will suffer, because you’re not developing your skills but rather the AI is the one doing your work and learning from you.

This is how I use AI, for guidelines and outlines and for clarifications on things I don’t understand. AI cannot source information correctly, and therefore, you must do your own research and confirm what AI says is 100% accurate.”

Jorge: “Generative AI should only be used for personal development and for aid in personal projects. It should not be used for class assignments as using generative AI to write code or papers for you could constitute as plagiarism as it is not original work written by the student.”

Lia: “For me, in the Psychology major I encounter a lot of people who take Psychology 107, AKA Statistics, and are troubled because they didn’t believe that is what the major would be. By the time people get to 213W, if they’re still feeling this way, it confuses me. The career path of most who pursue this degree is to be in a very front facing career, helping people and synthesizing dense information that they may be providing you. To me, if you utilize ChatGPT to construct large parts of your assignments, you are missing out on the fundamental skills that support you throughout the rest of your career. It should really be a wake up call to what you’re looking to get out of your Psychology degree in the long term.”

Justin: “Students should NOT be using Generative AI to write their essays. Students should NOT be using Generative AI to submit assignments. Students should NOT be using Generative AI to do any work for them. If they do, not only are they committing academic integrity, they are cheating themselves. Students should be using Generative AI tools to help them learn and become more time-efficient! If you just use Generative AI to submit an assignment, you are blatantly copying the work of thousands of writers who have worked on a paper themselves, and you are missing out on the valuable knowledge you may gain from doing the assignment! You can use Generative AI, not to give you answers, but to guide you in the right direction of obtaining an answer or to teach you how to work on a specific topic. This allows you to use Generative AI with academic integrity and ethical considerations in mind in a meaningful way.”

Limitations and Best Practices: “Every tool has its limitations. Based on your experience, can you discuss any limitations you’veencounteredwhile using generative AI in your studies? What tips or best practices would you recommend to fellow students and faculty members who are interested in integrating generative AI tools into their academic work?”

Hovendra: “As an accounting student utilizing generative AI tools, I’ve observed their limitations, such as occasional inaccuracies in specialized topics and the potential for superficial understanding without deep engagement. To effectively integrate these tools into academic work, I recommend cross-referencing AI-generated information with credible sources, using AI as a supplementary tool, practicing problem-solving independently, staying informed about AI developments, engaging in ethical use, and maintaining a feedback loop with educators. For faculty, fostering an environment that encourages critical evaluation and ethical use of AI, along with discussions on its limitations and capabilities, can prepare students for a future where AI tools are an integral part of the accounting profession.”

Kirk: “AI tools like ChatGPT have many limitations. I will state the limitations of ChatGPT I’ve encountered. ChatGPT is limited when it comes to learning mathematics and giving/using the right formula. You must be extremely specific, and there isn’t a function to type formulas in, so you’re typing the formulas with your keyboard e.g there’s no subscript, superscript etc. Similarly, it is limited in helping learn chemistry, a similar problem with formulas, and solving problems where complex calculations are needed.

If you ask ChatGPT to write something for you, if you take the writing it did, and “feed” it back that writing to further improve it. The writing will sound more robotic/unnatural, with the more iterations you make ChatGPT done on a sample of writing, the more robotic it becomes.
ChatGPT cannot process large bulks of information, if you feed it voluminous text, it will constantly get errors helping you with anything you ask it to do with said text.”

Jorge: “Generative AI, due to the nature of how it’s trained, can be incredibly inconsistent. It is best used when one has some domain knowledge, as then fact checking would be possible. It should not be used as an absolute source of information in that regard, and thus should be taken with caution. One should learn the basics of their domain first, and use generative AI as a colleague/coworker who may sometimes be wrong, not as an absolute source.”

Lia: “My answer is short and sweet: check your sources. These databases get confused, outdated and plagiarize often, so double check the answers that an AI provides you.”

Justin: “One limitation is that Generative AI can be wrong! This is why I recommend to all students that instead of asking it to solve a problem, solve it yourself and ask if your answer is correct. That way it can be more precise in its decision making and walk you through your own solution step by step. This is a much better way as if you ask for an answer, then it can be wrong and you would have no way of knowing unless you tell the AI to double-check its own work.”

Future Perspectives: “How do you see the role of generative AI tools evolving in education and research in the next few years? What are your hopes or concerns for the future integration of these technologies in academia?” 

Hovendra: “The evolution of generative AI tools in education and research over the next few years promises to revolutionize personalized learning, automate administrative tasks, and enhance research efficiency. My hope is for these technologies to democratize education, offering equal access to quality resources and personalized support worldwide, and to encourage interdisciplinary research. However, concerns about exacerbating educational inequalities, fostering overreliance on AI among students, and navigating ethical issues like plagiarism and academic integrity are paramount. It’s critical for educational institutions to establish policies that ensure equitable access to AI tools, promote their ethical use, and uphold academic standards, enabling a future where AI enriches the academic experience without compromising the values of critical thinking, creativity, and integrity.”

Kirk: “Generative AI tools will continuously continue to advance/boom and be integrated into everyday use and integration/growth in the education and research sectors/academia is inevitable in my opinion. For instance, Duolingo has incorporated AI, MetaAI is now on WhatsApp, and an AI bot is on Snapchat where you can chat with them. With both the MetaAI and AI bot you can ask it similar questions, that you could ChatGPT. These are easily accessible at the palms of your hand.”

Jorge: “Generative AI is here to stay and will only get better as time moves on. Academia must adapt to these new technologies as students will discover and use them regardless. Faculty should be trained in how to use generative AI as well as learn how to distinguish human written works versus AI generated works. In code, there are some tell-tale signs of whether a code was written by a first year student versus ChatGPT, for example. If used properly, AI can basically become a personal tutor, available 24/7.”

Lia: “My hope of the future is that these AI tools remain available to people mostly for free. The access people have currently to tools for no cost beyond the internet is tremendous, and I hope that it continues not to be severely paywalled. I think that in reality though, as far as academics go, that AI will be widely banned, the same way that Wikipedia is.”

Justin: “I see generative AI tools being heavily integrated into education and research in the next few years! My main concern, though, is it being integrated in a non-efficient and non-ethical matter. Students may be taught how to use it efficiently and ethically, but unfortunately, most students won’t care and just want to get their work out of the way.”

Audience Questions

Audience Question 1: “This may be hard to answer, but do you think about AI and the military?”

Hovendra: “The integration of AI into military applications presents both significant opportunities and profound ethical challenges. While AI can enhance defense capabilities, intelligence, and operational efficiency, potentially reducing risks to human soldiers, it also raises critical concerns about the development of autonomous weapons systems, escalation risks, and the possibility of misuse. The prospect of an AI arms race underscores the importance of international cooperation and regulation. Ensuring the responsible use of AI in military contexts requires a commitment to ethical frameworks, adherence to international humanitarian laws, and stringent oversight to balance the benefits of technological advancement with the imperative to protect human rights and maintain global security.”

Kirk: “When I think about AI & military, I think of I, Robot with Will Smith, and black mirror episodes. Simply because legislation and laws need to be enforced so that AI is used ethically and to the benefit of society. Not to the sole benefit of a singular entity for nefarious and uncontrolled use. For instance, the recent writers’ strike so that AI doesn’t replace the actors in Hollywood. AI unchecked in the military can be disastrous and should be safe guarded against in a War hungry world.”

Jorge: “I have no opinion on this as this is outside my domain of experience. This should be left to the professionals in those industries.”

Lia: “Personally, I believe that AI use in the military is very scary, because there is no one to hold accountable for the actions of an AI. Any decisions that involve the lives and livelihoods of nations should not be determined by an algorithm. An example of this happening recently was a lawsuit in which AirCanada’s automated chatbot claimed a customer could get a refund, but the company said they were not liable. A court ruled that they were in fact responsible to do right by the customer. Stuff like this, on the scale of the military could get very dangerous. I think that it’s likely AI is already being utilized in drone technology, but on a person to person executive decision level, people will remain in those positions.”

Justin: “I don’t have a big opinion on this as this is something I haven’t thought about too much. There are areas of the military that could greatly use AI, but there are others that should not use it such as human interaction, war, etc. For this, I would say that I am neutral on this topic.”

Audience Question 2: “Can AI take over the instruction of basic computer science courses such as CSCI 111 and CSCI 212?”

Hovendra: “AI has the capacity to significantly augment the teaching of basic computer science courses, such as CSCI 111 and CSCI 212, by providing personalized learning experiences, immediate feedback, and scalable tutoring solutions. It can automate the grading of assignments and tailor content to individual learning paces, enhancing students’ grasp of programming and data structures. However, fully replacing human instructors with AI poses challenges, as the nuanced understanding, mentorship, and motivational support offered by human educators are difficult for AI to replicate. Moreover, the cultivation of ethics, creativity, problem-solving skills, and a sense of community in the classroom requires the depth and interaction that only human instructors can provide. Therefore, while AI can improve certain aspects of computer science education, it is best utilized as a complementary tool to human-led instruction, rather than a replacement, ensuring a rich and engaging learning environment.”

Kirk: “Not applicable.”

Jorge: “No, it cannot. It serves best as a companion to those courses to help better student learning and understanding during those critical semesters that require additional help. On the other hand, MOOCS such as Harvard’s CS50x course, which is online and free, certainly can replace CSCI 111/211 due to it’s high quality curriculum and instruction.”

Lia: “I deferred this answer to my peers. I think that most professors provide great value to the subjects they teach.”

Justin: “Unfortunately, this may be true for some professors, not pointing any fingers. There are some professors that I have learned way less from than Generative AI, but in the real world, I don’t see AI taking over teaching professions.”

Audience Question 3: “Will AI create a bigger gap in equity?”

Hovendra: “AI offers opportunities to significantly reduce inequalities and improve equity. AI can democratize access to education through personalized learning tools, improve healthcare outcomes with predictive analytics and diagnostics accessible in remote areas, and enhance economic opportunities through efficient matching of job seekers with employment opportunities. Moreover, AI-driven solutions can be designed to address specific challenges faced by underrepresented or disadvantaged groups, provided there is a conscious effort to ensure these technologies are inclusive and accessible to all.”

Kirk: “AI can create a bigger equity gap or reduce it; it can go both ways depending on the way society chooses to use it and how accessible it is. The intersection of socioeconomic status and AI can play such a factor, one student may be able to afford the $ 20-a-month subscription for GPT4 while another student may not be able to. In this way, a growing trend of monetization of AI and advanced paid features is growing, and this creates a bigger equity gap. On the flip side, AI is being used to treat and come up with solutions to treat those with neurological disorders and disabilities which can help those individuals in society and close the equity gap a bit.”

Jorge: “From an educational standpoint, any tool that is affordable and accessible to all will only shrink the equity gap. Other tutors mention that high achieving students may use this tool more efficiently than lower achieving students, widening the gap, but this is not an accurate analysis of educational tools. Since AI currently is either free or at an affordable monthly subscription of $20 or so, this creates a much more affordable option for students rather than hiring personal tutors for $60/hour, which more wealthy families may have access to.”

Lia: “I think that as it pertains to education, if students are educated in how to use AI as an assistive tool and not an aid to instant gratification, the gap between the highest achieving students and the lowest achieving students will lessen. It is absolutely imperative for these tools to not be feared, as clever students will resort to using it anyway. When used correctly it has a lot of potential especilly as it relates to disability support.”

Justin: “In some cases, yes. Some will use Generate AI to make themselves more efficient in their academics, but some would like to use it to find an easy way out of doing work. For that, those students will fail and the ones who use it effectively will succeed, thus widening the gap.”


Hovendra: “AI brings a multitude of positives to the learning landscape, offering personalized and adaptive learning experiences that can cater to the unique needs, pace, and learning style of each student. By harnessing data and applying machine learning algorithms, AI can identify students’ strengths and weaknesses, providing tailored content and feedback that optimize their learning potential. This technology enables scalable, one-on-one tutoring experiences that were previously impossible due to resource constraints, making high-quality education more accessible to a broader audience. Furthermore, AI-driven tools can automate administrative tasks, allowing educators to devote more time to teaching and engaging with students. AI also enriches educational content with interactive and immersive learning environments, such as simulations and virtual reality, making learning more engaging and effective. These advancements have the potential to significantly enhance educational outcomes, democratize access to learning, and bridge educational gaps across diverse populations.”

Thank you for joining us!