Artificial Intelligence tools and your learning
Artificial Intelligence (AI) content generation or writing assistance tools, e.g., ChatGPT and Quillbot, may have a positive or negative impact on your studies. The guidance on this page is intended to help you to understand these tools so that you can make informed decisions about whether or not to use them.
If you use an AI content generation tool as part of your academic work, you need to be very careful that you do not commit Academic Misconduct by submitting work that is not your own.
What is an AI content generation tool?
Artificial intelligence (AI) content generation tools cover a range of skills e.g., writing, art / design, computer coding. They generate content based on questions that the user inputs to the tool.
AI writing tools work by simulating natural conversation and writing content by predicting the next word in a sequence based on their immense database. They can develop well-structured paragraphs or papers based on this method. These tools continue to learn from user responses and other available data e.g. from the internet.
AI visual content generation tools such as OpenArt, Dalle-2, Hugging Face, work in a similar way but based on image/shape recognition combined with natural language processing.
Before using any free tool you should read the terms and conditions carefully. It is rare for a tool or app to be completely free. Most tools / apps that are free make money in other ways e.g. advertising, taking your personal data and using or selling it. Think carefully and critically about the risks, benefits and ethics before you make use of any technology, including AI content generation tools.
Please read the following FAQ section carefully to understand what it means for you as a student to use these tools, particularly around the context of assessments and exams.
Edinburgh Napier University student guide to artificial intelligence tools
Are there any risks with using AI content generation tools?
AI writing tools work on language prediction model; they cannot think for themselves. This means that the tool might write a very plausible answer with correct spelling and grammar and present it as a ‘fact’, but it may be untrue. So, if you rely on an AI content generation tool, you risk using and repeating untrue or misleading information. As with other kinds of information from the internet (e.g. Wikipedia) it is essential to think carefully about where the information has come from and the extent to which it can be relied upon.
Are there any ethical issues with using AI content generation tools?
There are several ethical issues with AI content generation tools. These include:
- Due to bias in its training and the way it was trained, ChatGPT and other AI tools do not always provide ethical, unbiased answers and can provide answers which perpetuate bias and discrimination, e.g. cultural, racial, gender.
- Because of these biases in the data, AI tools can provide answers which perpetuate racism, sexism, ableism, and other harmful forms of discrimination.
- Media reports suggest that the labour practices of the companies that develop these tools are sometimes problematic, relying on low paid or unpaid labour to provide human checking for harmful content in the dataset. It is also worth bearing in mind that when you use the free version of these tools you are providing unpaid labour to the company which will utilise your questions and responses to further train the tool and respond to others.
Can I use AI content generation tools in my assessments?
Your assessments are required to be solely your own work, or in the case of group work, solely the work of your group. They are a means for you to demonstrate what you have learned. Submitting work which is not your own is plagiarism and falsification i.e. cheating.
If you were to use an AI content tool to draft or write your assessment, then the assessment would not be your own work. You would be cheating yourself of valuable learning opportunities if you did this and would not be demonstrating a true representation of your knowledge. The Edinburgh Napier University Academic Regulations clearly state that submitting work which is not your own is academic misconduct and a form of cheating. The penalties imposed for academic misconduct reflect the seriousness of this conduct. Being found to have committed academic misconduct has potentially severe consequences for your studies and future employment.
If you do use an AI content generation tool to develop your assessment, you should ensure that you identify which parts of the assessment were created in this way and include an appendix containing the prompts you input to the tool and responses you received.
Contact your module leader if you are unsure whether you are permitted to use any AI tools in your submission.
If you are under pressure with an assessment and are thinking about using an AI tool to do it for you, there are other means of support including:
- Your Module Leader, Module tutors or Programme Leader
- Your Personal Development Tutor
- Academic Skills team
- Wellbeing and Inclusion Team
- ENSA Academic Misconduct Advice
They can discuss your circumstances and advise you on how best to move forward with your studies without reverting to academic misconduct that may impact on your future studies and employability.
Can I use AI content generation tools to support my learning?
There is potential for AI content generation tools to support learning. For example, you might use them:
- As a starting point for research in the same way that you might use a search engine (although bear in mind that, as with other information found on the internet, the answers provided by the AI tool may be untrue),
- To develop your questions about a topic, refining your questions to focus more on the topic and developing your critical thinking in the process.
If you choose to use such a tool:
- Remember to check that you are comfortable with the terms and conditions before you do so (e.g., are you happy that your personal data might be shared or sold to others?).
- Be aware that the tool may give you answers which are incorrect, illogical and / or biased. You will need to use other sources and your own understanding of a topic to confirm the accuracy of any information provided.
- Follow the correct citation and referencing for your school to acknowledge non-AI sources of information which you use in your submission.
- Ensure that you clearly identify any work in an assessment which is not your own work e.g. if you ask questions of an AI tool and use the answers, then this would not be wholly your own work and should be identified and acknowledged appropriately. Seek advice from your module leader on how this should be done for your assessment. Be prepared to provide a copy of your AI conversation as an appendix.
What is Edinburgh Napier’s position on using AI content generation or writing assistance tools?
We provide students with engaging, real-world learning opportunities to equip you for lives and careers in a global digital world. There is no doubt that artificial intelligence and large language models, accessed through platforms such as ChatGPT, will be a part of the future workplace. This is why we encourage you to think critically about the implications of digital tools for your studies, your current learning and your future lives.
We also recognise the potential for these tools to empower you in your own learning and, when used responsibility, make learning more inclusive and accessible. We aim to provide every student with the support to engage with a range of learning opportunities during your studies, thereby reducing the likelihood of any student choosing to miss out on the learning involved in creating your own work for assessments and instead submitting the output of AI platform. We are actively engaged in gathering students' opinions on ChatGPT and this will be informing our engagement with this topic going forward.
We are reviewing the developments in AI content generation tools and will continue to explore how best to use these tools positively, ethically and safely for learning and teaching. We will keep students and staff updated and supported on developments as they happen.
What’s the future of AI content generation tools?
At present, the future of AI content generation tools is not completely clear. They are likely to continue developing and may well become part of recognised software packages such as those used in the University. They may also be tools which universities purchase and provide to students. We will continue to closely monitor developments in this area and keep staff and students updated where appropriate.
Where can I find more information?
The Skills hub provides a wide range of support to help you develop key academic skills including:
- Academic Integrity
- Referencing Guidelines
- Study Sheets
- ENSA Academic Misconduct Advice
- Academic Skills team
- Wellbeing and Inclusion Team
About this guide
The information on this page is adapted from Heriot Watt University’s 'Reviewing your assessments in light of increased availability of AI content creation tools CC-BY_NC_SA '.This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.