Surveys Reveal Trends in the Knowledge and Use of ChatGPT at CHS


Katharyn MacDonald, Contributor

In an interest to measure the impact of ChatGPT on the CHS community, large samples of CHS students of all grade levels, parents of students, and staff were surveyed. Surveys were anonymous, voluntary response, and open to all students, parents, and staff. 

The surveys show that the rise and widespread use of ChatGPT has made a significant impact on Calvert High School, with all three populations affected. 

Of those surveyed, 50% of students who know about ChatGPT have tried it, whereas 30% of aware parents and 33% of aware staff members have tried it. 

Spanning all three populations, only 10% of users rated the quality and accuracy of the chatbot’s writing as “Excellent.” Comparatively, 36% chose “Good,” 48% chose “Ok/Fair,” and 6% chose “Other.” None of the survey participants chose “Bad.” 

The surveys also revealed that social media and news outlets are leading sources of information on the chatbot. 

Of the parents who did know about ChatGPT, 60% indicated that they have discussed it with their children. 30% think their children might use ChatGPT for school assignments. 

However, ChatGPT appears to be pushing the limits of how much temptation the teenage students at CHS can handle. One third of students surveyed indicated that they would use or might consider using ChatGPT if they were “running low on time and/or struggling with a school assignment.” 

The surveys also reported that 37% of staff also would consider using ChatGPT for a “writing prompt, assignment, or lesson plan” for their students. The impact of this would reach multitudes of school systems and create lasting effects on students and the ways they are educated. 

Aside from the typical school essay, another function of ChatGPT could be creeping up on CHS/the school environment. Emails are often a mode of professional communication between teachers and students to ask questions, send files, or set up meetings. Emails between teachers and parents discussing concerns with grades or behavior are also very common, as scheduling phone or in-person conferences is difficult. AI-created communication could be considered less authentic and more impersonal, and therefore less valuable. It is also possible for the chatbot to misunderstand the situation and write an ineffective or inappropriate email, farther hindering communication. 

The students of CHS are trying to push against the pressure, with 50% of students surveyed choosing not to try ChatGPT and 80% of those who tried it indicating it was just to experiment with it and not to use it for an assignment. Yet some red flags are still being raised, with 9 of the 49 teachers surveyed detecting or suspecting ChatGPT use in schoolwork and three teachers reporting using ChatGPT for a writing assignment. One of these was a lesson for their students. 

Yet with these highly consequential changes happening, some are uninformed of the issue. Of those surveyed, 44% of students, 33% of staff, and 38% of parents had never heard of ChatGPT before taking the survey. 

New responsibilities are rising of teachers, who now need to attempt to distinguish AI-written work from student work. CHS administration has not directly addressed the issue, nor set a collective policy for teachers or administrators addressing it in the classroom. Because of this, many teachers haven’t addressed the issue. Only 16% of students indicated that two or more of their teachers have “mentioned ChatGPT and discussed it in class.” Parents reported hearing about ChatGPT from a number of sources, such as news outlets, social media, family members or friends, and their children. No one reported in the surveys that they had heard from school staff about ChatGPT. 

Students have always been faced with the challenge of taking responsibility and putting in the effort necessary to succeed, since before this kind of technology could be imagined. Today, students everywhere, including at CHS, must make a choice: to uphold academic integrity for the sake of their learning, or to give in to temptation and misuse the technology set before them. 

Senior Director of Customer Engagement at TurnItIn Patti West-Smith said, “In and of itself, AI is neither good nor bad; like most technology, it will come down to what we do with it.”