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How Artificial Intelligence can help—and hurt—students



There are a lot of myths and predictions regarding artificial intelligence (AI) and the future.

Generative AI, connected through programs like ChatGPT, is a popular technology that can be used to create new content, including audio, code, images, text, simulations and videos. AI can write entire academic essays, outlines, and even bibliographies.

AI technology relies on extensive computing power and vast amounts of data processed by algorithms to solve problems, simplify processes, recognize imagery, and make predictions. A significant advantage of AI technology is it can save time and minimize human error.

But will AI impact the learning processes in higher education? A new study by EssayPro, a company that provides writing services for students across the globe, revealed that “students in Utah are most likely to use ChatGPT to cheat with their essays.”

According to the study, “Utah ranks first with an average search volume of 273.9 per one million population each month.” The study analyzed Google search volume with 29 search terms, including “ai essay writer,” to find out which states have students who want an easy way to get essays written. The study then ranked the state according to the number of searches each month per one million residents.

EssayPro blog author Adam J commented, “ChatGPT and models like it can be used as an assistant but should never be used to write a full essay or piece of work.” 

A concern for students using AI is that it can dehumanize the learning experience and that the overuse of AI can hinder a student’s ability to succeed when obtaining a college education or impede a student’s capacity to advance into a career field.


Lehi resident Stephanie Lutz is a professor at Utah Valley University and feels that students who become dependent on AI for writing papers may not have opportunities to develop important critical thinking and research skills.

“If students become dependent on AI for writing papers and essays, they will miss out on developing critical thinking, brainstorming, outlining, researching, reading and writing skills. While using AI, a paper can easily come together for a student with little effort. Some students may feel relieved that an assignment is done and move on to other things without re-reading, fact-checking and reviewing it for accuracy. They may not even be familiar with the paper written by AI that has their name on it because it feels good to have the assignment completed,” said Lutz.

According to Lutz, it is common for today’s students to struggle with the writing process.

“I believe most people would say that they struggle with writing. ‘I don’t like to write’ or ‘I’m not good at writing’ are common phrases I hear often from my students. As a professor, I have guided learning journals where I give students writing prompts and require them just to write. I don’t check for spelling, grammar or even plagiarism. I assume my students are simply writing. My hope is that their ideas will pour out of their brains into the written word form. But that can be naïve as I am starting to see more students using AI even for these simple, small, low-pressure writing assignments,” said Lutz. 

Lutz believes that AI has found a permanent place in higher education. 

“AI is here to stay. It is still fairly new, and its use and purpose in academia are not yet well-established, but I do believe that with time and research, it will become clear how advantageous AI can be for both students and educators. At this point, many students seem to be using AI without fully understanding its limited scope and inaccuracies. UVU has a dedicated AI Task Force diligently studying this issue,” said Lutz.

AI could amplify plagiarism with algorithms trained on massive datasets of text and code drawn from existing material. AI can easily reproduce existing content without proper attribution or understanding of the context. 

“AI also has a limited knowledge base and can completely make up information from scratch with no basis in reality,” Adam J said.


This can make grading homework assignments difficult for educators, especially if students do not reference content created by AI.

“I had a student last semester who I suspected used AI on around 80% of their work. It was not referenced, meaning the student passed it off as their work without stating they used AI. I was uncertain of how to approach the student without sounding accusatory. Asking if they had used AI to write the paper didn’t feel like a caring and connected approach, which is important to me,” said Lutz.

She added, “I am not sure how students interpreted the statement. I have also made the following statement to my students in class: ‘My job is to teach. Because you are here to learn, I have a job. It’s not my job to look for and catch cheating. It’s your education and your tuition dollars. Put the money to good use and learn. Be honest and diligent and learn.’ No one applauds me when I make this statement in class. Just like I don’t know how students interpret my syllabus statement, I am not sure how they interpret my verbal statement.”

AI can be an effective tool for learning. Lutz said, “AI can be a great tool for students; we just need to understand how to harness plagiarism and unoriginal ideas of AI best while allowing the flow of traditional learning.”

AI-powered platforms allow educators opportunities to create a range of educational resources. With a short prompt and keywords, teachers can easily draft lessons and presentations. AI can also enhance a student’s skills by adjusting and personalizing an educational experience. 

“Most of us already use AI in ways such as predictive texting and editing software like Grammarly. I believe it is a matter of finding the best way to leverage student learning with the advantages of AI. I haven’t found that balance yet,” said Lutz. 

Lutz feels that educators should recognize the potential of AI technology in the classroom. It is important for educators to embrace and engage with AI so they can teach students how to better understand and leverage the technology. 

Lutz said, “I believe educators need to acknowledge AI’s presence in academic settings. It can no longer be ignored. Faculty members may be content experts, but they should strive to be relevant to their students. Relevance is interconnected to teaching. Not addressing AI in classrooms may widen the door for its use. 


“I feel that educators can find ways to use AI in the classroom and in assignments while teaching the value of original thought, research and writing. It’s a tricky balance, but it is time to carve out paths for students and faculty to work together to find ways to use AI in education instead of allowing AI to pit students and faculty against each other.”

Lutz is looking forward to learning more about using AI in the classroom. 

“I have not yet used AI for lecture preparations or writing. When seeking information, I still do what most of us do: Google it. I also use library resources and professional, discipline-specific databases. AI is certainly here to stay, and I cannot wait to understand the advantages of its use in academia,” she said.

As students in Utah continue to use ChatGPT or other AI technology to write essays, teachers should explore the benefits and drawbacks of using AI and teach students how to use it responsibly to be successful in an AI-powered world.

Some of the data for this article came from  

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