Essay for Pub 101

Word Count: 1125

Topic: Should AI be allowed in school or academic settings?

As artificial intelligence has grown in popularity for its convenience in completing everyday tasks (e.g., using Siri for weather updates or making online orders via Alexa), an intriguing question has arisen: should artificial intelligence be used (or even embraced) in academic settings? This essay will examine both perspectives on the issue, reviewing instances where artificial intelligence can be misused (i.e., abused) and circumstances where it may be beneficial. More personally, as a student with a learning disability that affects my writing, I have had to use artificial intelligence technology, permitted by my university, in completing my assignments. Therefore, I can appreciate where reasonable accommodations may exist in using artificial intelligence as an academic aid. Ultimately, while there should be certain limits on its use by students in completing schoolwork, I do believe artificial intelligence has a place within academia.

Across North America, schools have begun implementing regulations and flat-out bans on artificial intelligence within their jurisdiction. For example, New York City Public Schools prohibit the use of ChatGPT by students (from kindergarten through twelfth grade) for completing assignments and during exams. A school board representative discussed the reasons for the ban, indicating that “the tool may be able to provide quick and easy answers to questions; it does not build critical and problem-solving skills, which are essential for academic and lifelong success” (Castillo, Best Colleges, 2023). Universities, especially internationally, have begun to follow suit, informed by the same belief as the New York school district: using artificial intelligence hinders students’ ability to develop critical-thinking skills necessary to succeed in their academic journey and life. This argument is justified—regular use of artificial intelligence technology, like ChatGPT, can serve as a “shortcut” for students, allowing them to forego adequately engaging with the material they are supposed to be learning. In turn, students lack fundamental knowledge of the course material and become dependent on outside technology to solve for them versus developing those problem-solving skills themselves.

Another issue that can stem from the overuse of ChatGPT or other artificial intelligence technology is the “reduction in or lack of human interaction” it promotes in academic settings (Chen & Lin, 2023). This argument appears valid if students pay less attention in class because they know they can rely on ChatGPT to help complete their homework without consulting their own course notes. Additionally, being able to use ChatGPT may discourage students from engaging with other students or their teachers/professors (e.g., during open office hours) in asking questions and building their knowledge of course material. Such collaboration can be healthy—from a learning and social perspective—for students, yet it goes by the wayside with easy access (and answers) from artificial intelligence tools.

Perhaps most seriously, academic institutions have looked to ban ChatGPT out of ethical concerns, asserting that artificial intelligence is used to create work that is not one’s own, which is unacceptable. This position is completely justified—students should not be able to pass off work generated by artificial intelligence tools as their own and assume the same academic success as those students who produce their own work. Claiming another’s work product (whether human or AI) is a transparent form of plagiarism, which is never appropriate.

While some institutions have already developed strict initiatives to ban artificial intelligence in academic work, Canadian institutions have yet to decide how to approach this sensitive matter. Dalhousie University serves as a relevant example. Robert Mann, a representative from the university, stated, “Our main concern is that students are fairly and genuinely evaluated on meaningful exercises aimed at maximizing learning. The appropriateness of text generators or any other software available to students will be assessed at all times with this concern in mind” (D’Andrea, Global News, 2023).

Current Canadian neutrality has led some university professors to support using artificial intelligence in academia; they recognize its merits too, not just its potential harm. For example, University of Alberta professor Alona Fyshe, has expressed the value of artificial intelligence as a teaching tool—and especially as a tool to “expand [one’s] creative process” (D’Andrea, Global News, 2023). Fyshe is not alone in this sentiment that artificial intelligence may serve as a “creative partner” to solve modern issues. Researchers from multiple medical schools, for example, developed a form of rapid diagnosis of COVID-19 using an AI-generated model. The researchers stated, “The AI system could be implemented as a rapid diagnostic tool to flag patients with suspected COVID-19 infections when CT images and/or are available, and radiologists could review the suspected cases identified by AI with a higher priority” (Mei et al., 1228, 2020). This implementation of artificial intelligence in academic research led to more creative problem-solving and, ultimately a practical solution that helped save lives during the pandemic. This is a clearly positive example of artificial intelligence’s integration in academia.

Researchers and students worldwide have also begun incorporating artificial intelligence to help communicate with their global peers. As mentioned by Zhu et al., “ChatGPT can be used to translate text with more customized requests and can be utilized to summarize critical information from lengthy material” (Zhu et al., 2023). Greater efficiency in global communication can increase collaboration, brainstorming, and idea-sharing across academia, allowing more critical research to be conducted with fewer barriers, thanks to the help of ChatGPT and other artificial intelligence tools.

Moreover, using artificial intelligence in academia can, in certain circumstances, democratize learning. A particularly meaningful circumstance is providing equitable opportunities for students with and without learning disabilities. As a student with dysgraphia, I frequently struggle with syntax in my writing, and I use artificial intelligence software to help identify errors and sources of confusion in my writing. This way, I can correct them and improve the coherence of my writing and, in turn, comprehension for my reader. Ultimately, even with my disability, I am able (using artificial intelligence) to demonstrate my knowledge and critical engagement with course material on equal footing with individuals who may not share my disability.

While using artificial intelligence, like ChatGPT, to write essays or take exams is a clear example of plagiarism, a wholesale ban of artificial intelligence from academic institutions can lead to missed opportunities. Artificial intelligence has already been proven to help researchers develop more robust, creative models, which could be life-changing. It can also help researchers and students communicate more efficiently with each other and promote equal learning opportunities for students with disabilities, as I have personally experienced in my academic journey. While certain limits are necessary to encourage student engagement, critical thinking, and academic integrity, artificial intelligence has sufficient merit to play a role in academia. Thus, before any ban, academic institutions should consider the potential positive influences that artificial intelligence can have on individuals and society.


Castillo, E. (2023, March 27). These Schools and Colleges Have Banned Chat GPT and Similar AI Tools. Best Colleges.

Chen, J. J., & Lin, J. C. (2023). Artificial intelligence as a double-edged sword: Wielding the POWER principles to maximize its positive effects and minimize its negative effects. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood.

D’Andrea, A. (2023, February 1). Canadian universities crafting ChatGPT policies as French school bans AI program. Global News.

Mei, X., Lee, HC., Diao, Ky. et al. (2020). Artificial intelligence–enabled rapid diagnosis of patients with COVID-19. Nature Medicine vol. 26, 1224–1228.

Zhu, J., Jiang, J., Yang, M., Ren Z. J. (2023). ChatGPT and Environmental Research. Environmental Science & Technology 2023.