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Ka Punahou

The Student News Site of Punahou School

Ka Punahou

The Student News Site of Punahou School

Ka Punahou

Punahou Teachers on ChatGPT

Mira Kubo ’24 and Shen Kellogg ’25

ChatGPT is an AI chatbot that interacts with users in a conversational way. It can answer a multitude of questions and follow commands based on its vast data set and computing techniques. At Punahou, many conversations are starting to arise about student use of ChatGPT. To help students navigate this powerful AI tool, I asked four academy teachers from the four different core subjects to discuss the negative and positive academic uses of ChatGPT and suggest possible school guidelines on ChatGPT for students. 

Mr. Mitchell Krulewich – Math Teacher:

I think ChatGPT is a valuable tool for self directed learning. You can plug a question into ChatGPT such as “how do you find the slope of a line,” and it’s going to give you a pretty good response. We try to make videos, resources, and textbooks available to you, but I think students should know how to use ChatGPT, essentially as a Google search, but even better. A Google search will just give you a list of websites that you could then click on and attempt to figure out the answer to the question you asked. But when you feed a question into ChatGPT, especially if it’s a very specific one, it immediately types back a really good answer and explanation. So I definitely think that that’s an appropriate use. We are all very used to using Google as a tool to find things out; I think we can add ChatGPT to our toolbox. 

As far as using it to help with one’s writing, I believe that it can be useful but I want to be careful about what I say because I’m a math teacher. I don’t want to encourage students to use a tool in a way that I think is appropriate but the teacher that is actually assigning the essay, the reflection, etc, might specifically not want the student to use ChatGPT. Having said that, for writing tasks outside of an academic context, you can see what ChatGPT spits out, and then you could take that as your starting point. 

But again, I want to reiterate that students in any classroom, at any level, need to pay attention to what the expectations of the instructor are. If the expectations are that you don’t use ChatGPT, then it becomes inappropriate to use it. If the instructions don’t specify, then this is a new enough technology that a responsible student would ask before they used it. So, I don’t think it’s a bad idea to have a default understanding that you don’t use ChatGPT for schoolwork unless it’s specifically listed as “ok”. As I’m answering, I’m also sort of thinking out loud: maybe it would be wise for our school to make the default that you don’t use ChatGPT; have students assume that it’s off limits unless otherwise indicated. Because then if a teacher wants you to use it, they can say so. 


Mr. Yunus Peer – Social Studies Teacher:

Many school districts nationally and internationally have banned the use of AI. I believe this negative mindset is an over-reaction. 

Policy making from a point of fear results in sabotaging learning and creativity. Another consequence is that it may result in denying accessibility, and tangible solutions to students all across the world with language barriers and learning style differences. 

AI is a resource that can enhance Punahou student engagement and raise the bar for ALL students. ChatGPT can be used as another text to compare and contrast against, thereby taking learning to an entirely new level. 

I believe we can devise “responsible technology use” rules for all students and thereby encourage innovation and raise the quality of education. We currently have plagiarism detection software that is being upgraded to detect AI. That should be enough. 


Mr. Reid Hayes – Science Teacher:

I actually asked ChatGPT how it might be useful to students, and its response is unsurprisingly similar to how I would answer that question.The response said: “you could use it as a learning resource to ask questions, for clarifications, to explore new topics, and to improve your writing skills by giving you suggestions.” For language learning, I’ve heard from people that it’s helpful to talk to ChatGPT in your target language. It also says that you could use ChatGPT for homework assistance, and I think that’s where there’s some questions of what its appropriate use is. 

I think I’ve mentioned this to at least one of the classes that I teach but I think about using ChatGPT in the same way as you use Wikipedia. It’s fine to type questions into it and use it for quick background information. I know there’s some students who are using it instead of Google now, which I think that’s totally fine. The risk with it is the same with Wikipedia, which is if you’re using it to do your work for you or if you’re using that as your research instead of doing actual research. I think that’s where you start to get into questionable territory. 

Some students last week in my class were using ChatGPT to ask, “how do I do this test in R [a statistical analysis programming language]?”, and it would give you instructions on how you run an ANOVA or other tests in R; and that’s great. That’s a question that the students now have the answer to without having to ask me. I think that’s the kind of thing that can be super useful. I’ve been using it for things like that, too. There was a test last week that a student was trying to run in R that I didn’t know how to do, so I asked ChatGPT and it gave me the method. I used what I already knew about R and what ChatGPT told me, and, subsequently, I was able to do that test. So I think it can be super helpful if it’s used appropriately. 

I also asked ChatGPT about guidelines and ways to limit ChatGPT, and it’s interesting because some of the guidelines in its response are the same guidelines that the school has already done, or tried, anyway. One of them was internet filters, or blocking the website under school Wi-Fi. I believe Punahou IT briefly did this and decided not to, and I think that was probably the right call. Since students all have cell phones and hotspots, blocking ChatGPT on the school network doesn’t really stop them from using it. In ChatGPT’s response to my question, it also talked about requiring responsible use monitoring, which means having teachers monitor what students are doing; I think that’s where Punahou is at currently. Maybe eventually there’ll be more of a school-wide or academy-wide policy regarding ChatGPT; but for now, letting different classes do different things seems okay to me. 

I think the regulations on student use of ChatGPT on schoolwork come down to asking questions like: does this sound like something my student might have done? Does this student’s work suddenly sound way different or more advanced than what I would expect? And I’ve noticed that if I type in something to ChatGPT, its response doesn’t sound like me. Just for fun, I asked ChatGPT to write a report card comment. It gave me a response, but it didn’t sound like me. It’s the same thing where if a student turns in something that doesn’t sound like them, that might start to raise some red flags for their teacher. But it’s a judgment call. It’s a tough one. Ultimately, it’s hard to limit ChatGPT, other than just blocking it on the network. 

I have two things that I would like people to keep in mind. One is that I’m just speaking for myself. If you ask me these same questions six months from now, I might have totally different answers because this ChatGPT is so new and changing so fast. And two, that I think ChatGPT is a really cool tool, and I think we’re all still learning what the best ways to use it are. I haven’t yet figured out for myself what ways I might integrate it into what I’m doing. Most students probably haven’t figured out what ways they can use ChatGPT responsibly and in a way that’s helpful to them. And I’m excited to see what we do find out.  


Ms. Marisa Proctor – English Teacher:

What I think is interesting about ChatGPT is that anybody can use it, which means that both students and teachers can use ChatGPT. So I think the ways ChatGPT can be helpful apply to both groups in that it can be helpful to generate ideas. For instance, a student may be feeling stuck with writer’s block. ChatGPT can be used as a more robust search engine for inspiration than, say, Google. It can help to get started and to generate ideas. However, I don’t think that the writing process should stop there. I think that’s only the beginning, just as googling information is only the beginning of research or learning something that you’re interested in. We still need to use our own brains, creativity, and critical thinking to build upon ChatGPT’s ideas and make it our own. At the end of the day, students and teachers alike, shouldn’t be sounding like robots or saying things that everybody else on campus can say in the same way. I think that’s where each student and each person’s voice should be cultivated to sound uniquely themselves. 

I think the school guidelines should be that students need to follow the individual guidelines that their teachers have given them. And that anytime they use AI or ChatGPT on an assignment, they should cite that. They should give credit, so there’s not any sort of question about where the work or even part of the work originated from. Those guidelines should also state that teachers need to be very clear about parameters for using ChatGPT. Along with that, the guidelines should derive from the purpose of the work. If a teacher is asking a student to write a poem, and the purpose of writing the poem is for students to express their feelings or to express themselves, then it would make sense that the poem comes from their brain entirely and not from a computer program. On the other hand, if an assignment is more about following a particular format, or producing something that fits a very particular genre, or perhaps the student is asked to incorporate AI in the assignment and then to build off of that as sort of an exercise; then, obviously, it would be appropriate to use ChatGPT. It might be fun to see what ChatGPT gave you as a starting point, the same way you would collaborate with a partner in class. Lastly, I don’t think that any sort of administrative guidelines will actually say this, but I think it’s good practice for students to ask their teachers about ChatGPT use within their course. I think transparency by both students and teachers is good. 

Ms. Proctor shared that ChatGPT “makes her kind of sad, talking about it.” I asked Mrs. Proctor why she’s not as excited about ChatGPT as others have been: 

I’m afraid students will stop writing. And if that’s the case, then what am I here for? I consider myself a writing teacher, first and foremost; and I prefer working with students more on writing than, say, discussing literature. I spend anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes reading my students’ papers and responding to them with really specific feedback. If my students are just going to turn to ChatGPT and have it spit out an answer in 30 seconds, and I’m gonna spend 30 minutes reading their work and carefully crafting meaningful feedback, it makes me feel bad. I just wonder what will happen later. In just about any career you do, you’re gonna need to know how to write and communicate; and I think that Punahou graduates should be able to communicate well on their own without needing a crutch to do it for them. 

In my experience, when students turn to someone or something else to write for them, whether it’s ChatGPT, asking a friend to revise their paper, or asking their parents to read their paper, it stems from a lack of confidence. A student finds themselves stuck and they want to do well, but they don’t believe that they can do it on their own. So they ask someone or something else to do it for them. I think that is really unfortunate because teachers exist to help students improve. Wouldn’t it be great if they instead reached out to their teacher and asked for help or a paper conference: “hey, I don’t feel great about my paper, I don’t know how to start it, can you help me?” Every single teacher in our department will want to sit down with that student and have a conversation. My guess is that what that student learns, they can use in future assignments, and they’ll keep getting better and better at writing. 

Along that line of thinking, I hesitate to even recommend ChatGPT for generating ideas just because I wish people could do that brainstorming and that thinking themselves. Even when students are stuck and they can’t figure out what to write about, I hope they can still have that conversation with somebody. You could probably farm out any assignment to ChatGPT and get it done in a minute or two, but if you really care about learning and becoming a better writer, you’re gonna put in the work. It’s not gonna happen on the first day or the first try, but over time, you’ll become a better writer than ChatGPT will ever be, because it will be your authentic writing and your authentic voice. That’ll take a lot longer and it’ll require a lot more work and effort, and I would love to see students be up for that. Not just take the easy way out. It’s not just about getting it done, it’s about learning along the way and figuring out that you really do have the skills to do this. 

Recently, Punahou has shared renewed policies on plagiarism stating that “using Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Al-generated content, including but not limited to ChatGPT, to solve equations, develop code, create text for a written assignment, or for any other school-related purpose, would be plagiarism if that content were not cited as being Al-generated content and approved by the instructor.” Discussions on ChatGPT are occurring in schools worldwide, as it is a very rapidly developing and potent tool. Being aware of future and current policies, observing perspectives from different parts of the community, and maintaining an open mind will be key in navigating through ChatGPT as a Punahou community. 

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