Campus - 05.07.2023 - 10:06 

HSG lecturers use ChatGPT as a teaching tool

HSG lecturers used ChatGPT for students' group work as part of a course. The students used Artificial Intelligence to design websites and apps. The objective was for them to learn how to deal with AI and also critically question its results. 
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“Students use artificial intelligence programmes anyway. We want to train them to use it and show them the opportunities and risks”, says Edona Elshan. Together with Philipp Ebel, she taught the Master's course “Design and Development of User Interfaces” at the HSG this spring semester. On the course students developed interactive digital platforms such as websites or apps for practice partners from the non-profit sector. 

In this group work, students also used ChatGPT in the research and design phase. They had to document and reflect continuously on the use of AI in their work. The NPOs included Powercoders, a programme school for migrants; Greenbuzz, a platform that links companies and sustainability experts; and the app Swiss Climate Challenge, which records mobility data and shows its CO2 emissions. In the research and design phase of the Swiss Climate Challenge app, the students used ChatGPT for the first time. They had to document and reflect continuously on the use of AI in their work.

More drafts achieved thanks to AI

Elshan and Ebel's research at the HSG's Competence Center Cognitive Automation includes the interaction between AI and humans. "That's why we were also interested in how ChatGPT works effectively as a team member in a group of students and what influence the AI has on the result of the work," says Ebel. 

Over the course of the semester, the two HSG researchers surveyed the students three times about their learning progress, group dynamics and fear of AI. They also randomly analysed the type and frequency of requests students made to ChatGPT.

A key experience from the course, according to Elshan, is that the student teams' performance has improved. “This year, the students came up with six to seven drafts of a design. In previous years, there have been three to four for each design”. Students handled the entire development process in the course. “First they gathered requirements from practice partners and users, based on which they developed a flowchart of the usage process, a draft of a user interface and subsequently several clickable prototypes”.

Dealing with AI important for the labour market and studies

“These drafts receive continuous feedback and are therefore improved step by step. Thanks to the greater number of drafts, the end result tends to be a better interactive application for the users”, says Ebel.

ChatGPT has taken over routine work, giving students more time for the creative design work, say the HSG researchers. For example, the tool wrote guidelines for interviews with users, evaluated these conversations, as well as general trends in the design industry, and also recommended suitable programmes for the design phase to the students. The AI also generated texts that were integrated into the respective drafts. 

The proficient use of AI tools, as well as the classification of the results produced, is a skill that is becoming increasingly important in studies and in the working world, say Ebel and Elshan. One finding was that through frequent use, the students were able to recognise the limitations of ChatGPT and learn to critically evaluate its results.

The two lecturers presented their experiences at the “Teaching Day 2023”, which took place at the HSG at the end of May. AI and its importance for teaching took a central role on this day, when teachers both within and external to HSG came together to exchange ideas. 

The team of the HSG's Teaching Innovation Lab (TIL), for example, did a presentation on how ChatGPT can be used to develop a story that serves as a common thread running through a course. Siegfried Handschuh, HSG Professor of Data Science and expert in computational linguistics, introduced the technical principles and possible future prospects of language-based AI tools. Legal frameworks were also discussed, with the HSG adapting the declaration of autonomy that must accompany written papers in February 2023. According to the new version, the use of ChatGPT and other AI tools must be clearly marked.

ChatGPT thus also raises legal as well as ethical and practical questions for universities and their students. A personal insight that the two HSG lecturers have taken away from their course: “The form of our examinations will have to change; we will give more weight to oral examinations, project work and presentations”, says Ebel. 

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