Teens Will Use AI for Schoolwork, But Most Think It’s Cheating, Survey Says

More than 4 in 10 teens are likely to use artificial intelligence to do their schoolwork instead of doing it themselves this coming school year, according to a new survey.

But 60 percent of teens consider using AI for schoolwork as cheating, according to the nationally representative survey of 1,006 13- to 17-year-olds conducted by research firm Big Village in July for the nonprofit Junior Achievement.

The survey findings come as the emergence of ChatGPT—an AI-powered chatbot that can respond instantly to seemingly any prompt—has put discussions about how teachers and students should use it front and center in schools across the country.

Nearly half of educators who responded to an EdWeek Research Center survey conducted this spring said AI would have a negative or very negative impact on teaching and learning in the next five years. Twenty-seven percent said AI’s impact would be positive or very positive.

And in ChatGPT’s early days, some districts—including New York City schools—took a hardline approach and banned the technology in classrooms because of concerns about cheating and data privacy. (The New York City district has since removed the ban on ChatGPT and is now encouraging students and teachers to learn how to use it effectively.)

When asked why they would use AI to do their schoolwork for them, the top response in the Junior Achievement survey was that AI is just another tool (62 percent). Others said they didn’t like school or schoolwork (24 percent), that they wouldn’t need to know the information because of AI (22 percent), that everybody else is doing it (22 percent), that they would do poorly otherwise (17 percent), and that it’s not important to know the subjects for which they use AI (8 percent).

The survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percent.

“The misuse of AI to do all schoolwork not only raises ethical concerns, but this behavior could also shortchange many students’ educations since they may not be learning the subjects they are using AI for,” Jack E. Kosakowski, the president and CEO of Junior Achievement USA, said in a written statement. “Given the growing demand for marketable skills, this could become very problematic.”

Experts say educators should teach students how to use it as a tool and an assistant in their learning instead of using it as a replacement for learning.

However given that 44 percent of teens say they’re likely to use AI to do their schoolwork for them, and 48 percent said they know friends and classmates who have used AI this way, schools have a lot of work cut out for them.

So how can educators incorporate AI use into their lessons, guard against cheating, and teach students to use it as a helper? Here are some examples that experts have shared with Education Week:

  • Create assignments that are impossible to complete with these tools, such as assignments about very recent news events or about the local community.
  • Allow students to complete assignments in class.
  • Ask students to give an oral presentation.
  • Create project-based learning assignments.
  • Allow the use of ChatGPT and other AI tools but require students to acknowledge and document how they used them. For example, students could use ChatGPT to get feedback on their essay drafts and explain which of the tool’s suggestions they agreed with and which ones they didn’t. This approach allows students to learn how to use the tool as a partner, instead of having it do all the work for them.