The use of artificial intelligence (AI) tools, such as ChatGPT, is becoming increasingly common in various industries, including education. As with any new technology, there are celebrants and naysayers. Specifically with education, many teachers and parents are concerned about the impact of available AI tools on educational outcomes. After all, schools spend millions of dollars per year trying to stop plagiarism with software like TurnItIn.com. Won’t AI allow higher quality, lower cost plagiarism to run rampant? Will students have any incentive to learn the tried-and-true skill of analytical writing?
Maybe the naysayers have it wrong. Perhaps AI tools will help students learn to write more effectively by lowering the cost and increasing the availability of high-end, personalized writing help. As with any new technology, there is going to be a learning curve. Parents, school systems, and students will need to learn the boundaries of AI dependence and AI assistance. But it’s not all bad. This amazing technology might revolutionize the ways our students learn, particularly those students with learning differences like ADHD.
The point is that this technology is new. It could be the best thing or the worst thing to happen to schools, but, in reality, it will be a mix of benefits and drawbacks. This article aims to explore the potential benefits and challenges of AI tools in the classroom, particularly for high school students with executive function deficiencies, based on current research.
The Benefits of AI in the Classroom
Almost every parent, teacher, and student can get behind individualized learning. Everyone talks about the benefits of a low student to teacher ratio. The enhanced feedback and coaching that accompanies individualized learning is well-researched as one of the best ways to improve educational outcomes. Personalized learning and feedback based on individual student needs and learning styles is one of the main selling points for AI-enhanced learning tools. Research has found that AI tools can provide personalized and adaptive learning experiences, which can be particularly beneficial for students with diverse learning needs. Likewise, studies have shown that AI tools can improve accessibility for students with disabilities or other learning challenges, allowing them to participate more fully in the classroom.
Educators also point to the potential of AI to lighten the administrative load on schools and individual teacher. AI can help improve efficiency and accuracy in grading and assessment. Research shows that AI tools reduce grading time and increase the accuracy of grading, providing more objective and consistent feedback to students. If teachers spend less time grading, they will have more time to meet with students, plan their lessons, and other tasks that benefit learning outcomes. Moreover, school systems are starting to employ AI to assist with a plethora of administrative tasks that previously impeded students and parents from performing everyday tasks. For example, parents can use AI to set up automatic progress monitoring for their child’s classes or to get questions answered by teachers instantaneously. AI tools also have the potential to help students with executive function deficiencies stay organized and manage their workload. Research suggests that AI tools can be helpful for students with executive function deficiencies, providing structure and support for managing tasks and schedules much like a dedicated teacher or guidance counselor would do. But, without the financial and administrative constrains, each student could benefit from this kind of one-on-one attention.
The Challenges of AI Tools in the Classroom
Of course, AI tools are not perfect; there are numerous challenges to overcome as we integrate these new tools into the classroom. For example, AI might inhibit the human interaction in the classroom that helps students develop emotional intelligence, empathy, and social awareness. Likewise, AI tools are no replacement for the mentor-mentee relationships students often form with their teachers. Without this kind of support students often struggle to maintain motivation and bounce back from setbacks. Studies have suggested that AI tools can lack emotional intelligence and human interaction, which can be important for promoting social and emotional learning and building positive teacher-student relationships.
There is also the potential for overreliance on technology, leading to decreased critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Research has shown that an overreliance on technology can lead to decreased critical thinking and problem-solving skills, as well as a lack of creativity and curiosity in learning. This comes as no surprise given the social media and technology laden age that today’s students face. Technological developments related to social media have seen a steep drop-off in vital executive functioning skills related to impression management and communication. Many people (rightly) fear a similar impact on creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills as students become overreliant on AI tools to solve educational problems.
Implications for Students with Executive Function Deficiencies
Executive function skills are our bread and butter. Organization, time management, learning skills, and impression management are the core pillars of helping students reach their potential. Thus, we see both the potential and harm of the AI revolution.
Studies have highlighted the importance of educators providing guidance and support to students with executive function deficiencies, helping them to effectively utilize AI tools to support their learning, but these AI tools are still in beta mode. They are not finished products and they require slow, deliberate integration in the classroom. Educators must be mindful of the limitations of AI tools, incorporating a balanced approach to their use in the classroom, in order to support positive educational outcomes for all students. Specifically in this chaotic era of headline AI, parents and teachers should reinforce the idea that this technology, like any tool, can be used to help or to inhibit learning. So much depends on the student’s ability to self-regulate, which is the core of our unique executive function curriculum.
Where do We Go from Here?
While AI tools offer many potential benefits for students, including those with executive function deficiencies, it is important for educators to carefully consider their implementation and use. By acknowledging the challenges and limitations of these technologies, and providing appropriate support and guidance, educators can effectively incorporate AI tools into their teaching practices to support positive educational outcomes for all students. As always, it’s not the tool that is the worry; it’s the user.
For more thoughts on the growing evolution of AI in education, please visit our blog page. To learn more about our unique executive function curriculum, reach out today to help set your child up for success through our flagship academic coaching program.