Students across Scotland quizzed on use of AI

A new academic survey aims to build a nationwide picture to help understand current uses and experiences, and help guide policy and potential implementation of artificial intelligence technology going forward

A new study aims to provide the “first national picture” of how artificial intelligence is impacting students’ day-to-day learning in Scotland. 

Led by the University of Edinburgh, the research will support a larger project which gauges attitudes to AI among secondary school pupils and teachers. By asking high schoolers about their use of AI in their work, the findings will help teachers better support students to use it responsibly for learning, experts claim.

It is hoped the new information will ensure Scottish education is appropriately preparing students for the future, as current pupils will be “one of the first” to enter an AI-driven workforce, Fiona McNeill, study co-lead explained.

Questions will focus on generative AI, which is already used by more than half of UK undergraduates to create material they are being graded on, according to research by the Higher Education Policy Institute.

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Pupils will be asked about the AI tools they use and their knowledge of so-called hallucinations, the term applied to instances in which an AI system wrongly identifies or misunderstands patterns, and provides responses that are inaccurate or nonsensical.

Researchers also hope to understand the policies schools have in place on AI use, and whether teachers and students are familiar with these.

The study will also help tackle the digital divide, Professor Judy Robertson, fellow study lead, explained.

 “Young people who can’t access AI tools at home may miss out on learning skills which will be expected in the workplace,” she said. “This is why teaching critical AI literacy in schools is so important. Understanding how learners use AI tools already is a first step to developing a framework for AI literacy – we need to meet learners halfway and understand how it features in their digital lives.”

Funded by Edinburgh University’s Generative AI laboratory, the survey is open until 30 June.

A version of this story originally appeared on PublicTechnology sister publication Holyrood

Sofia Villegas

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