New Project Explores Use of AI in the Gifted Classroom
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Since ChatGPT was introduced in late 2022, it’s been embraced by college professors for its ability to tailor instruction, earned a passing score on sections of the bar exam, and even completed freshman year at Harvard University with a 3.34 GPA.
While AI-powered large-language models are already transforming higher education, many K-12 educators are still grappling to understand the role this new technology might play in the classroom. Concerns that the technology will weaken students’ critical thinking skills and encourage them to cheat have led some K-12 school districts to restrict or ban the use of AI.
It’s clear that large-language models are powerful tools that are rapidly changing teaching and learning. That’s why a team led by the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth is investigating what happens when K-12 students are taught to use AI to ethically support their learning. Their project, funded by a $75,000 Johns Hopkins Digital Education and Learning Technology Acceleration grant, explores academically advanced students’ and educators’ use of large-language models in an online CTY classroom.
“Using AI in the K-12 classroom is a new way to think about education that seems far-fetched, and yet it is so attainable,” said Amy Shelton, PhD, executive director of CTY. “We could see a real transformation away from traditional rote memorization and primary instruction so that we can get to synthesis and integration of information faster. If we can get this right for advanced learners, we can create variations that could work for any learner.”
CTY will partner with others from across Johns Hopkins University to customize an AI large language model to effectively serve as a “tutor on the side” to help a student’s learning process during the course. During this small-scale project, the team will also determine how teachers can best understand and make use of this technology. Principal investigators include CTY’s Kimberley Chandler, PhD, Daniel Khashabi, PhD, and Benjamin van Durme, PhD, of JHU’s Whiting School of Engineering, and Jennifer Morrison, PhD, of JHU’s School of Education.
The CTY project is one of five that received 2023 DELTA grants, which support JHU faculty, staff, and students who require additional funding to develop, implement, and evaluate innovative digital education initiatives with potential to enhance teaching and learning. Results will be released in December 2024.
“Clarifying the student’s role in the learning process and defining the optimal role of AI to support the learning process is really the function of this exploration,” said Robert Arena, senior director of innovation and continuous improvement at CTY. “We want to help our students become better learners and better explorers of knowledge who can take advantage of the best technology available.”