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Stone presents on generative artificial intelligence in higher education

Brian Stone, an associate professor in the Department of Psychological Science, presented research on generative artificial intelligence in higher education at the Association for Psychological Science’s annual convention in May.

Stone’s experiments and surveys with hundreds of Boise State students have found that most undergraduates now use AI, but often with trepidation and uncertainty, especially in the face of mixed messages from their peers, family and faculty. In some cases, students may not even realize they are using AI when using apps, like Grammarly, that assist with spelling and grammar, potentially leading to unintentional academic integrity violations.

“Worse,” Stone said, “first generation students were significantly more likely to have been falsely accused of cheating with AI than non-first generation students. And these false positive accusations can cause serious issues for student-faculty trust.

“On the plus side, so far, the evidence suggests that online students aren’t significantly more likely to cheat with AI than those taking in-person classes.”

Stone’s research has also shown that students are both excited by and nervous about recent developments in generative AI. Additionally, most students see AI literacy as a relevant skill for their future careers and something they want to be taught about in their university education.

Stone also recently gave a talk at the Rocky Mountain Psychological Association on how to train ethical and skilled use of generative AI as a learning tool in higher education. He demonstrated how professors could integrate the technology into courses to foster genuine learning, with generative pre-trained transformers customized to that specific class or topic, for example.

This research was supported by a research fellowship provided to Stone by Boise State University’s eCampus Center. Research fellows conduct a study in online education that addresses a gap in the literature, and AI is an area that the eCampus Center would like to know more about. Stone’s research provides evaluative information about how to use AI in teaching and learning. Instructors who wish to learn more can contact Amy Vecchione, assistant director of research and innovation for eCampus.