Among the many initial concerns around AI and ChatGPT is that students would use it to write their school papers or essays or otherwise cheat on assignments. While you obviously shouldn’t do that — you’ll never learn anything that way, and the risks outweigh the rewards — you can use ChatGPT to help you study in more productive ways.
Use ChatGPT to discuss concepts
Just as we’ve recommended having a conversation with another person who doesn’t know anything about the topic you’re studying to identify areas you need to work on, you can chat with AI. I just asked ChatGPT about a topic I’m studying — community-based health interventions — and we “discussed” different levels of community engagement. I already submitted my final assignment on the topic last night, but ChatGPT actually had interesting “ideas” that helped me think of even more creative solutions I could have put in my work. I was able to ask follow-up questions and get detailed answers that actually made sense in the context of my work.
As the American Psychological Association pointed out recently, going back and forth with the language model like this not only helps you think critically and creatively, but helps you practice managing technology in our changing world. A win-win.
Use ChatGPT to summarize articles
If you have to read a ton of articles or reports, try getting ChatGPT to summarize them for you. This is great when you need to compare similarities or differences between pieces of research or get top-line bullet points to help you round out a paper. I fed it an old article and asked for a summary and the language model took about 30 seconds to condense 61 pages into one key paragraph, highlighting the study design, the study goals, its findings, and its recommendations.
Use ChatGPT to streamline your notes
If your notes are difficult to read or sort through, ChatGPT can help. I assign each of my classes a Google Doc and take notes in it all semester, but the thing eventually gets weedy and nearly impossible to navigate. I put my entire semester’s worth of notes for Research Methods into ChatGPT and asked it to tell me the most important information. Not only did it pull out the nine steps of research planning and implementation and the principals of the Belmont Report (which were major on the midterm), but it reminded me how much of my grade was determined by each test. It emphasised things I had written down multiple times, creating the perfect guide of what, exactly, to study.
Use ChatGPT to create flashcards and quiz yourself
Next, I asked ChatGPT to make flashcards from the same document of notes. Granted, it only created outlines of what each real flashcard would look like, telling me what should be on the front and back of each card. But by scrolling so the answers were obscured below the window, I was easily able to quiz myself.
Then, I tried a new approach. I asked ChatGPT to quiz me itself. It asked me questions and when I inputted the right answers, it even told me, “Great job!” What’s more, it provided more detailed information after I answered, giving me tidbits that weren’t even in my original notes.
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