SAEF Zooms in on AI in Tertiary Education

Dr Jessica Goebel
Dr Jessica Goebel explored the possible implications of ChatGPT in writing.

Following the launch of ChatGPT and a panel discussion hosted by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Teaching and Learning in February, the School of Accounting, Economics, and Finance (SAEF) hosted a virtual brainstorming session for academics to examine the impact of ChatGPT in teaching, learning and research practices on 9 March.

ChatGPT is a virtual assistant that can answer questions in a conversational way. The dialogue format makes it possible for it to answer follow up questions, admit its mistakes, challenge incorrect premises, and reject inappropriate requests. Recent innovations in technology and Artificial Intelligence (AI) have seen various higher learning institutions adapt their methods and models of tuition to align with developments.

Ms Janet Bruce-Brand of the Economics Discipline within SAEF spoke on how educational institutes can use AI to improve the experience of students using ChatGPT as a learning partner, highlighting how AI proficiency develops critical skills which help students understand mechanical and societal implications.

‘This means that teaching is not just about the technicalities, but also about equipping people with the ability to reason critically,’ said Bruce-Brand. ‘Moreover, university lecturers must have a strong grasp of AI’s potential and limitations to effectively incorporate it into their structural design and teaching strategies. As educators, we should remain updated on emerging technologies and apply them to encourage innovation, ethical decision-making, and expansion of knowledge and understanding.’

She said new uses of AI/ChatGPT are discovered regularly, arguably to improve writing and come up with new ideas to save time and reduce the workload between lecturer and student/learner.

Dr Jessica Goebel, a senior lecturer in Economics, explored the possibilities and hazards possibly posed by ChatGPT in literature review and other writing-related uses. Her presentation showed the advantages presented by technology which academics can use in teaching and learning.

‘ChatGPT can be a helpful tool in conducting a literature review for a research project or essay by providing feedback and quick and easy access to a wide range of resources. However, it is essential to use ChatGPT as a starting tool and to supplement its results with additional research,’ she said.

Professor Kerry-Ann McCullough, senior lecturer and academic leader for Finance who attended this brainstorming session as well, also shared feedback and lessons learned after incorporating ChatGPT into her modules. McCullough emphasised the need for academics to check content and calculations carefully when using this tool.

Words: Samukelisiwe Cele

Photograph: Supplied

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