The Homework Doc

Close this search box.
We can use AI to teach Critical Thinking Skills

AI- A Springboard to Critical Thinking

Researching my newest book, I came across a new perceived threat to our children’s education. It is Artificial Intelligence. I was alarmed at first about how it is being used by students today. As I thought about it, I saw ways that it can actually be a benefit to students, but not ow it is being used today. AI can be the catalyst for positive change. It’s not all bad! But it does require an understanding about where AI came from, and how changing traditional teaching methods will promote the development of necessary critical thinking skills.

When Nintendos posed a problem for students, I never took the stance of stopping students from playing the games. I believed if we made it a forbidden item, they would want it even more. It was more important to educate users how the device engaged their attention and maintained it. Learning how neuroscience was employed to guarantee engagement was an eye-opener to students. They quickly discovered how and when they played and the duration of their play impacted their ability to concentrate and get deep sleep. The end result was they were able to control their device use instead of the device controlling them. I believe we need to take the same approach with AI use.

AI Background

In the 1970’s, AI was developed to organize information which made it easily accessible to researchers. Scientists had discerning eyes when it came to determining the efficacy of the research they found.

Challenges Presented by AI

Today’s children do not possess that same critical eye. They have been misled to believe that what they find on the internet is truthful.

AI is, according to a columnist Ezra Klein, a risk to our children related to AI companions because the path to AI is smoother. He is concerned that AI is not concerned with the truth. The systems are built to be convincing, it doesn’t matter that it isn’t true. “If the user cares about the truth, they need to be good editors.”

The essay writing capabilities of a few AI Apps went viral and students began having AI write their essays and answer their homework questions.

Solutions to Challenges

Many students, who turn to AI to write essays, need to be aware that the paper they turn in may be inaccurate. Students using the internet need to use many sources to determine if the information is accurate.

Being aware from the start that the source is not reliable will prevent students from being fooled by untrustworthy sources. They need to ask themselves, “Does this make sense?” “Are there other reliable sources that agree with this information?” “Are there opposing opinions?” Every position on a topic should have a variety of opinions, or something isn’t right. If there aren’t opposing opinions, one should ask, “Why aren’t there different views of this topic?” “Is this source biased in one way?”

In 2004, I allowed my students to use the internet to search for information on an animal they were researching. They also were required to use books, magazines, newspaper articles, and encyclopedias. As a result, they began seeing inconsistencies between what they found in the print material and the Internet. These students continued to question what they viewed online.

The ease at which we can access information makes it less desirable to go to the library. So it is unrealistic to think students are going to take the time to fact check internet generated information to determine bias. This makes it easy for students to be misled. This makes it crucial to educate our users to use different sources online. Sources from credible institutions such as NASA, the Smithsonian, National Geographic, and major universities can be used. News articles tend to show bias, so viewing several different articles by different journalists need to be viewed.

Teachers are now aware that the AI detectors are not reliable. Many educators are requiring their students to write their essays in class.

Students will use AI whether we tell them to or not, so I believe educators need to adapt our methods because traditional methods won’t work in this technology driven world. I can see a positive use of AI generated essays, only if the students know they have to fact check the work. A great deal can be learned by researching an essay. If students are given a variety of questions that might appear on the test, the use of AI will create more engagement with the material, require critical thinking about what AI generate, and students will learn more, just in a different way than using traditional methods. In class written essays tests will return as a method to determine what was learned.

I recommend parents and teachers do AI searches with your children to discuss and research the results.

Please comment below about the results of your searches.

For those who are old enough, the Blue Book will be used again. The Blue Books were used to prevent students from bringing pre-written essays into final exams in high schools and colleges. This excites me, but calls for a discussion of the topic of my next blog; The Value of Teaching Cursive.

1 thought on “AI- A Springboard to Critical Thinking”

  1. This is a great summary of understanding how AI can affect our children. I appreciate you sharing ways to assist them if they do decide to use AI. Thank you for explaining how to proceed with caution!

Comments are closed.

Scroll to Top