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Chat GPT and all things AI

Updated: Aug 30, 2023

Chat GPT and all things AI have burst into our awareness this year with equal measures of excitement about the potential and concerns of their misuse.

In recent years with a greater number of our assessments being supported digitally it is important to consider ways that authenticity can be assured as well ensuring students are showing an understanding of the material that they are learning rather than just rote learnt regurgitation of their class notes or answers that have been taken from other sources.

With this challenge in mind, I have attempted to approach our first assessment in our Psychology course at Year 12 differently this year. The aim was to absorb the potential for students using AI type chat techniques in a way that if students were to utilise these methods this could become another tool to help in their learning but would not undermine the authenticity of their assessed work.

A further development to the design of the unit was to consider student engagement within the course and to give greater independence and ownership over what they would ultimately be learning about.

Since students have returned to the classroom post online learning in lockdowns it has been clear that many students have been approaching their learning differently. Teaching as a class with teacher led activities certainly has it’s place but once basic mastery is complete giving students more choice and opportunity to focus on their own areas of specific interest has helped student engagement. If designed appropriately incorporating these ideas into unit design could address the current learning needs of the students in front of me.

To summarize the overall flow of the unit; looking at Psychological Approaches (91844) within the context of Clinical Psychology (Allowing part 1 of our 2 part Fields (91847) to also be assessed within the same content base). The basic overview was that students were initially taught how Abnormal behaviour is defined and the difficulties around this. Classification of one disorder was then taught along with the core concepts of the Approaches used to explain this disorder. In the department one teacher taught addiction whilst the other taught schizophrenia (This was decided using student surveys with consideration of student background). Once students had as a group learnt how theories from different approaches could be used to explain a disorder and how treatments would link to these specific theories they were then taken to the next phase of their learning, application of understanding.

In the next phase of the course students were given the opportunity to study a disorder from a selection that had been resourced and considered by the teacher. A key consideration was to ensure that the disorder would enable explanation from at least three of the approaches that had been taught. For example, many students requested to study Dissociative Identity Disorder (obviously capturing many of their imaginations!). This difficulties of this disorder for use in this assessment was then discussed, as well as some of the wider issues such as the cultural specificity of the diagnosis. Disorders that were well supported included, Phobia, Depression (Bi and Unipolar), Addiction, OCD, PTSD and Schizophrenia. Resources were provided including useful websites appropriate for this level of study. If students had been taught Addiction or Schizophrenia at the start of the course they were not able to choose the same disorder for their independent study.

Students were then given a framework to complete ensuring they researched three different approaches explanations for their disorder as well as treatments linked to these theories. This gave a period of independent study that gave excellent opportunities to work with individuals and small groups of students. Socratic questioning techniques were used to help further deepen the thinking of the students in their research of the disorder. Students prepared a research presentation which was completed as a PowerPoint.

At this stage (although not evident) it was accepted that students could be using Chat AI to support their work, and this may be incorporated into their presentation.

The presentation was then printed for students to be used within the final assessment as pre-prepared notes. This was also a useful formative (or checkpoint) assessment.

The final assessment was given on paper with students showing their understanding of Approaches and the Field of Clinical psychology by applying their knowledge to explain the behaviour of a previously unseen case study. Each student was given a different case study dependent on the disorder they had chosen to become experts within. The benefit of this was that it also reduced opportunities for plagiarism across students and meant that they had to understand the notes they had prepared. If students had copied from websites and not understood the content this would become apparent when they attempted to apply understanding to this case study.

Overall, the outcome from this redeveloped unit were extremely positive. Students showed excellent engagement, assessments showed application of understanding rather than rote learnt regurgitation and it enabled greater focused teaching opportunities with students helping to build good relationships for the remainder of the year. There are also many parallels in learning techniques with tertiary study so this strategy may also help better prepare students for their next steps after NCEA.

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