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Blog post Part of series: Artificial intelligence in educational research and practice

Academics’ perspectives on students’ use of ChatGPT: Contain, constrain or embrace the genie?

Nashwa Ismail, Lecturer at University of Liverpool


This blog post is a reflection on the UNESCO report (Miao & Holmes, 2023), which underscores the importance of centring educators in the artificial intelligence (AI) revolution in education. It emphasises the benefits of ChatGPT in teaching and the necessity of Always Centring Educators (ACE) in the integration of AI into education. This post is a critical reflection informed by my professional experience as an academic lead, examining academics’ pedagogical use of technology in teaching and learning. The advent of ChatGPT and similar AI-powered language models has ushered in a new era in the academic landscape, prompting educators and institutions to confront the potential implications of this technology on student assessments (Opara et al., 2023). Academics with whom I work – both within and across departments at my university – as well as colleagues from other universities, are grappling with three distinct perceptions regarding students’ use of ChatGPT in assessments, each carrying its own ramifications and potential responses.

Perception 1: Embracing and adapting

A forward-looking perspective on ChatGPT regards it as an integral component of the modern educational landscape that necessitates a re-evaluation of assessment strategies. According to Lo (2023), this viewpoint acknowledges that ChatGPT can serve as an assistant for instructors, assisting in generating course materials and providing suggestions, as well as functioning as a virtual tutor for students, answering questions and facilitating collaboration. From our view, educators should explore methods for integrating AI tools like ChatGPT into their teaching and assessment practices. Institutions need to invest in AI literacy programmes for both students and faculty, promoting responsible and effective use. Furthermore, educators should adapt assessment methods to evaluate critical thinking, problem-solving and creativity, shifting away from rote memorisation. This adjustment makes it more challenging for students to solely rely on AI assistance. This approach aligns with the notion that students should fully embrace artificial intelligence technology, such as ChatGPT and other innovative tools, rather than being limited by them (Basic et al., 2023).

Perception 2: Flagging it as a plagiarism warning

Other academics advocate for promptly flagging the use of ChatGPT as a form of plagiarism, likening it to copying from a fellow student or an online source without proper citation. This approach underscores the critical importance of academic integrity and serves as a deterrent against penalties for unethical behaviour. However, it can sometimes oversimplify the complex issue of AI assistance in learning and may discourage students from seeking help when they genuinely require it. Notably, a study by McGee in 2023 found that 89 per cent of students use ChatGPT to complete homework tasks, with 53 per cent utilising the tool for writing papers. Furthermore, 48 per cent of students use ChatGPT during exams, and 22 per cent rely on ChatGPT to generate paper outlines (McGee, 2023). From our view, while educators should emphasise the significance of academic integrity, it is imperative to distinguish between deliberate cheating and students’ authentic attempts to utilise AI tools for enhancing their learning. Institutions should establish clear guidelines for detecting and addressing AI-related plagiarism while offering support to help students navigate the ethical use of AI.

‘While educators should emphasise the significance of academic integrity, it is imperative to distinguish between deliberate cheating and students’ authentic attempts to utilise AI tools for enhancing their learning.’

Perception 3: Keeping the genie in the bottle

Some educators opt to leave the proverbial genie in the bottle, refraining from flagging the use of ChatGPT to preserve the illusion that all students are submitting original work. Unfortunately, this approach inadvertently perpetuates an imbalanced representation of students’ abilities, granting an unfair advantage to those who exploit AI assistance. In the absence of well-defined guidelines, educational institutions should proactively formulate policies that address the use of AI tools in assessments (Halaweh, 2023). From our view, educators should foster open dialogues about the role of AI in education and ensure that students understand the ethical implications and potential consequences of relying on AI for academic work.


The academic community’s perceptions and responses to students’ use of ChatGPT in teaching and learning vary widely, ranging from ignoring the issue to imposing strict penalties or embracing AI as an educational tool. To navigate this intricate landscape, institutions need to urgently establish clear policies, foster AI literacy and encourage ethical AI use. Ultimately, the goal should be to strike a balance that upholds academic integrity while harnessing the potential of AI for educational enhancement. ChatGPT and similar tools can be valuable assets when used responsibly, but they also present challenges that educators and institutions must proactively address. However, equipping academics with AI literacy is a progressive first step.


Bašić, Ž., Banovac, A., Kružić, I., & Jerković, J. (2023). ChatGPT-3.5 as writing assistance in students’ essays. Humanities and Social Sciences Communications, 10, 750 (2023).

Halaweh, M. (2023). ChatGPT in education: Strategies for responsible implementation. Contemporary Educational Technology, 15(2), ep421.

Lo, C. K. (2023). What is the impact of ChatGPT on education? A rapid review of the literature. Education Sciences, 13(4), 410.

McGee, R. W. (2023). What will the United States look like in 2050? A ChatGPT short story.

Miao, F., & Holmes, W. (2023). Guidance for generative AI in education and research. UNESCO.  

Opara, E., Mfon-Ette Theresa, A., & Aduke, T. C. (2023). ChatGPT for teaching, learning, and research: Prospects and challenges. Global Academic Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences, 5(2), 33–40.