- While students and faculty are exploring generative AI, they’re doing so at markedly different rates
- Students prefer online learning, but they struggle with access to the basic equipment to enable such learning modalities
- See related article: We gave AI detectors a try–here’s what we found
Students and faculty report drastically different rates of AI adoption, with students using AI writing tools such as ChatGPT more than 3 times as much as faculty, according to the 2023 Time for Class research publication from Tyton Partners, published in collaboration with Anthology and Turnitin, with additional research support from Macmillan Learning, Lumina Foundation, Every Learner Everywhere, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The publication details the differences between student and institutional stakeholder experiences with digital learning in higher education and how institutions and solution providers can address these differences to produce better outcomes for students.
The data is gathered from three large-scale surveys conducted in Spring 2023, collecting insights from 2,048 students, 1,748 instructors, and 306 administrators. Respondents are representative of the diverse demographics of these populations and provide insight into the evolving – and at times at odds – perspectives of today’s learners, instructors, and university leaders.
Students shared that while they prefer digital modalities for learning, they face access challenges with regards to reliable internet and devices and that their experiences and preferences differ from institutional stakeholder perceptions.
Additionally, instructors shared insight regarding instructional challenges they see implementing digital learning in their classrooms, notably with the innovation in generative AI technology (e.g., ChatGPT) making “detecting student cheating” their most frequently cited in-course challenge.
Some of the major differences between the perspectives of students and instructors include:
- Generative AI is here to stay. Forty-six percent of students report that they will use generative AI writing tools, even if prohibited by their instructor or institution.
- Student preferences for learning trend to hybrid, blended and online courses, whereas faculty preferences trend to face-to-face. More than half of instructors prefer teaching face-to-face, but only a third of students prefer face-to-face courses. The remaining 70 percent of students prefer digital elements to course modality with the top choice being hybrid courses (22 percent). Students also prefer digital materials over print 29 percentage points more than faculty.
- Despite digital preferences, students report lack of access to foundational technology infrastructure. Up to 40 percent of students report they have experienced stress due to limited access to computers/laptops and unstable internet connections. This same statistic for students from underserved racial groups is six percentage points higher than the overall student population.
- Ninety percent of instructors are using digital course materials in one or more classes, yet students and faculty both note there remain affordability barriers to accessing course materials. Students prefer access models that reduce price and deliver materials on the first day of class and inclusive and equitable access models show promise in achieving this goal. Faculty are aware of student affordability challenges and leverage free materials more than administrators think.
- Students and instructors are adopting generative AI at different rates, as of March 2023, roughly 30 percent of students report being regular users of generative AI writing tools like ChatGPT while only 9 percent of faculty reported the same level of usage. Both faculty and students who are using and experimenting with generative AI tools are far more optimistic about their impact on teaching and learning.
- 71 percent of students say they were anxious about their course-load or expectations this term, most often turning to peers, instructors, or their course materials or supplements for support. Only 10 percent said they prefer to turn to Generative AI as their preferred source of information as of the time of survey fielding in March – April.
“We have long seen that digital learning, implemented well, can provide greater access to learner data for educators, support improved learning for students and be a key tool to address equity gaps. Generative AI is affording new ways for educators to change how they spend their time, deepen student learning through new forms of assessment and instruction, and to enable real-time support and intervention at the point of need,” says Kristen Fox, Managing Director at Tyton Partners.
The 2023 Time for Class report of the largest and longest running study monitoring digital learning in higher education is now available, with additional reports, Driving Towards a Degree 2023 and Listening to Learners 2023 being released later this Summer.
This press release originally appeared online.