February 14, 2023

Artificial Intelligence and implications for education, executive function skills

By now you’ve likely heard of the many tech companies competing to make artificial intelligence (AI) available to the general public. If you don’t know a lot about AI (and this writer falls into that camp but is learning), think of it as a computer’s ability to think and learn, and to do things that traditionally require human intelligence. You might also think of AI as an optimized search engine. Yet, beyond providing links to articles or websites of possible interest, AI responds to queries directly, as if in conversation, with the ability to analyze and understand that information in a more comprehensive way. Conventional wisdom says AI will soon become a part of our daily lives, though it is still in its infancy and imperfect.

At Engaging Minds we are intrigued by AI as it has implications for education. There are certainly many positive implications for education, but also some controversial ones. To address a number of our questions, we turned directly to ChatGPT, an AI developed by OpenAI, which recently received a multibillion-dollar investment from Microsoft.

** Please note that just like information found on the internet, ChatGPT can be misleading, inaccurate, or provide false information and it is still being developed. Its results require critical human thinking. OpenAI CEO Sam Altman recently said: “ChatGPT is incredibly limited, but good enough at some things to create a misleading impression of greatness. It’s a mistake to be relying on it for anything important right now.”


EM request:
How can teachers incorporate AI into the classroom?

AI response:
Teachers can incorporate artificial intelligence (AI) into the classroom in various ways, such as:

  1. Personalized learning: Teachers can use AI to personalize learning experiences for their students by analyzing student data to identify areas where they may need additional support and providing personalized recommendations for improvement.
  2. Automating grading and administrative tasks: AI can help teachers save time by automating routine tasks such as grading assignments, taking attendance, and tracking student progress.
  3. Enhancing learning through interactive experiences: Teachers can use AI to create engaging and interactive learning experiences for their students. For example, AI can be used to create virtual simulations, interactive games, and personalized quizzes to help students understand complex concepts.
  4. Providing feedback and assessment: Teachers can use AI to provide students with real-time feedback and assessments to help them understand their strengths and weaknesses and guide their learning journey.
  5. Improving classroom management: AI can help teachers monitor student behavior and engagement in real-time and provide insights into how to optimize their teaching strategies.

It’s important to note that AI should not be relied on as the sole source of education or teaching. Teachers still play a crucial role in creating engaging and meaningful learning experiences for their students and guiding their use of AI. Additionally, teachers should stay informed about the latest advancements in AI and incorporate them into their teaching practices in an ethical and responsible manner.


EM request:
What are the benefits of AI for students?

AI response:
AI offers several benefits for students, including:

  1. Personalized learning: AI can provide tailored educational material and feedback to students, which can lead to improved learning outcomes.
  2. Efficiency and convenience: AI tools can automate repetitive tasks, such as grading and tracking progress, allowing students and teachers to spend more time on other aspects of learning.
  3. Accessibility: AI can provide assistive technology, such as speech recognition and text-to-speech, to support students with disabilities and learning differences.
  4. Improved engagement: AI-powered gamification and interactive elements can make learning more engaging and enjoyable for students.
  5. Skill development: Using AI technology can help students develop skills in areas such as problem solving, critical thinking, and data analysis.

It is important to remember that AI is a tool and should be used in combination with traditional teaching methods to ensure the best possible learning experience for students.


EM request:
How can students engage with AI to support their classroom learning?

AI response:
Students can engage with artificial intelligence (AI) in a variety of ways to supplement their classroom learning:

  1. Personalized learning: AI can provide personalized learning experiences for students, helping them to understand complex concepts and identify areas where they need additional support.
  2. Interactive simulations and games: AI can create engaging and interactive simulations and games that help students learn in a fun and interactive way.
  3. Chatbots and virtual assistants: Students can interact with AI chatbots and virtual assistants to ask questions and receive instant answers. This can help students clarify their understanding of a topic and reinforce their learning.
  4. Adaptive assessments: AI can provide students with adaptive assessments that adjust to their learning pace and abilities, helping them to better understand their strengths and weaknesses and guiding their learning journey.
  5. Language learning: AI can help students learn new languages by providing interactive and immersive language learning experiences.

It’s important to note that while AI can provide valuable support for students’ learning, it should not be relied on as the sole source of information or education. Students should still engage in traditional learning activities such as reading, writing, and participating in class discussions. Additionally, teachers play a crucial role in guiding students’ use of AI to ensure that they are learning in an ethical and responsible manner.


EM request:
How can AI support students that have executive function challenges?

AI response:
AI can support students with executive function challenges by providing:

  1. Organization tools: AI can assist with task scheduling, reminders, and goal setting, helping students stay on track and meet deadlines.
  2. Study aids: AI-powered tools can provide personalized study material, flashcards, and quizzes, which can support memory and recall.
  3. Writing support: AI writing assistance tools can provide suggestions for grammar, syntax, and word choice, which can be beneficial for students with challenges in language and writing skills.
  4. Accessibility features: AI can offer voice recognition, text-to-speech, and other accessibility features that can support students with learning and attention challenges.

It’s important to note that AI should not be relied upon solely to support executive function challenges, and should be used in combination with other strategies and interventions to ensure student success.


EM request:
What are some disadvantages of AI?

AI response:
AI has several disadvantages, including:

  1. Bias and discrimination: AI systems can perpetuate existing biases and discrimination if they are not properly designed and tested.
  2. Job displacement: AI automation can lead to job losses, particularly in industries where tasks are repetitive and can be easily performed by machines.
  3. Privacy concerns: AI systems often collect and store large amounts of personal data, which can raise privacy and security concerns.
  4. Dependence on technology: Overreliance on AI systems can reduce critical thinking skills and problem-solving abilities.
  5. Lack of human interaction: AI systems can replace human interaction, which can lead to social and emotional isolation.
  6. Cost: Implementing and maintaining AI systems can be expensive, and not all schools and institutions may have the resources to adopt this technology.
  7. Technical difficulties: AI systems may experience malfunctions, bugs, and other technical difficulties, which can disrupt education and lead to lost data.

It is important to weigh the benefits and disadvantages of AI and to ensure that its use is balanced, ethical, and responsible.


EM request:
Can students use AI to cheat on tests?

AI response:
Yes, students can potentially use AI to cheat on tests by accessing answers from the internet or by using AI-powered tools that generate answers. However, it is important to note that such actions are unethical and can result in consequences, such as failing the test or facing disciplinary action from the school. To prevent cheating, teachers can use methods such as secure testing environments, proctored exams, and plagiarism detection software. It is also important for schools to educate students on the importance of academic integrity and the consequences of cheating.


EM request:
Should we allow students to use AI to complete homework or write essays?

AI response:
As an AI language model, I do not have personal opinions, but I can provide information and insights on the topic.

There are arguments for and against allowing students to use AI tools like chatbots to complete homework and write essays. On one hand, these tools can help students save time and effort and allow them to focus on other areas of their education. Additionally, AI tools can provide valuable feedback and guidance, helping students to improve their writing skills.

On the other hand, relying on AI to complete homework and write essays takes away from the learning experience and doesn’t give students the opportunity to develop their own critical thinking, writing, and problem-solving skills. It can also be viewed as cheating and can negatively impact the student’s future education and career opportunities.

Ultimately, the decision to allow or prohibit the use of AI in educational settings should be made by educators and academic institutions, taking into consideration their individual policies, goals, and values. Additionally, it’s important for students to understand the limitations and potential consequences of using AI in their studies.


EM request:
How can parents know if their kids are using AI to complete homework?

AI response:
Parents can look for signs such as unusually fast completion of assignments, perfect answers, and lack of mistakes. They can also monitor the child’s computer usage and investigate if they find any suspicious activities. Open communication with the child and school can also provide insight into any potential use of AI for homework.


EM request:
How can a teacher know if a child is using AI to write a paper?

AI response:
Teachers can look for signs of AI-generated text such as unnatural language patterns, lack of cohesion and context in the writing, and repetitive or similar phrases. They can also compare the writing with previous work done by the student and check for consistency in writing style. Teachers can also use plagiarism detection software to identify any instances of copied text from the internet. However, it’s important to keep in mind that these methods may not always be foolproof, and further investigation may be necessary.


EM request:
When should I get an Executive Function Coach?

AI response:
Executive function is a critical component of success in both personal and professional life. It encompasses a set of cognitive skills that help individuals plan, organize, initiate, and execute tasks effectively. These skills are essential for academic, work, and daily life success, but they can be difficult to develop and maintain, especially for individuals with conditions like ADHD or other learning differences.

When faced with difficulties in executive function, many individuals turn to an executive function coach for support. An executive function coach can help individuals identify their strengths and weaknesses in these skills and develop a plan for improvement. However, the decision to get an executive function coach is not always clear-cut. Here are some key factors to consider when deciding whether to seek out executive function coaching:

  1. Struggles with time management: Difficulty with time management is one of the most common symptoms of executive function difficulties. If you often feel overwhelmed by deadlines, find yourself procrastinating, or struggle to prioritize tasks, an executive function coach can help you develop better time management strategies.
  2. Challenges with organization: If you struggle to keep track of important information, or find yourself losing or misplacing items frequently, an executive function coach can help you develop better organizational skills.
  3. Difficulty initiating and completing tasks: If you often find yourself getting sidetracked or losing motivation, an executive function coach can help you develop strategies to initiate and complete tasks effectively.
  4. Impairment in academic or work performance: Executive function difficulties can impact academic or work performance. If you are struggling in school or at work, an executive function coach can help you identify areas for improvement and develop strategies for success.
  5. Diagnosis with a condition affecting executive function: Individuals with ADHD, autism, or other conditions that affect executive function can benefit from working with an executive function coach. A coach can help individuals understand their strengths and weaknesses and develop strategies to manage their symptoms and improve their skills.

It’s important to note that executive function coaching is not a one-time fix for difficulties in these skills. It requires ongoing effort and commitment from the individual to see results. However, with the right support and guidance, individuals with executive function difficulties can make significant improvements in their skills and quality of life.

In conclusion, if you are struggling with any of the issues mentioned above, it may be worth considering executive function coaching. With the support of a skilled coach, you can develop the skills you need to succeed in both your personal and professional life.