a group of students sitting at a desk, with one student typing on a laptop while the others are deep in thought, brainstorming ideas for a writing assignment

The Role of AI in Education and Assessing Student Learning

In our conversation, Sean Dagony-Clark and I discussed the role of AI in education and the importance of assessing students’ ability to think and generate ideas independently. While Sean argues that incorporating AI in education should be done after students have demonstrated their ability to think and generate ideas, I believe AI can be used as a tool for curating and organizing ideas. We both agree on the need for a common definition of knowledge and the importance of assessing students’ ability to apply that knowledge. The following article expands on topics from our conversation.


As educators, we must assess and evaluate the learning and understanding of our students. In a rapidly changing world, where technology is increasingly integrated into our daily lives, it is imperative that we also consider the role of artificial intelligence (AI) in education. However, many schools and educators are ignoring the use of AI in teaching and assessment, leading to students using AI assistance without proper evaluation of their learning. In this article, we will delve into the problem of AI assistance in education and discuss the importance of incorporating AI responsibly and effectively.

Current State of Affairs

Neglect of AI in education

The current state of affairs in education is neglect and avoidance when it comes to using AI. Many educators and schools are sticking their heads in the sand and ignoring that students are already using AI to assist with their writing and learning. This lack of attention to the use of AI in education leaves students vulnerable to the limitations and pitfalls of relying on AI assistance without proper evaluation of their learning.

Rather than addressing the issue and teaching students how to incorporate AI responsibly and effectively, we are allowing them to use it blindly without understanding its limitations and potential harm to their development of critical thinking and writing skills. For example, students are using AI to write a paper without understanding the underlying concepts and ideas that writing the paper is meant to teach.

The harm to students

This lack of attention and evaluation is not only detrimental to the students, but it is also a disservice to the educators who are unable to properly assess the learning and progress of their students.

Impact on educators

It is time for us to confront the reality of AI in education and address the need for proper evaluation and assessment in the age of AI assistance. Only then can we ensure that students gain the necessary skills and knowledge to succeed in their academic and professional endeavors.

The Problem with AI Assistance

As AI technology advances, it is increasingly being used in educational settings. However, there are several problems with relying too heavily on AI assistance in teaching and assessing student learning.

Using AI to generate ideas and thoughts can limit students’ ability to develop their own critical thinking skills. Instead of learning how to create and evaluate their own ideas, they may become reliant on AI to do the thinking for them. The use of AI can become a crutch, stifling creativity and originality. This is a concerning possibility in a world where innovation and ingenuity are highly valued.

Additionally, if students are not adequately evaluated on their understanding and ability to generate their own ideas, they may not be adequately prepared for real-world situations where AI assistance may not be available. This can lead to a lack of confidence and competence in their abilities, hindering their professional growth and success.

Second, relying on AI to assist with writing can also hinder students’ development of writing skills. While AI may be able to help with spelling and grammar, it cannot teach students how to organize their thoughts, create cohesive arguments, and use language effectively. By using AI as a crutch, students may never learn these crucial writing skills.

Furthermore, the use of AI in education raises ethical concerns. As AI becomes more advanced, it may be able to generate original content that is indistinguishable from human-written work. This poses a challenge for educators who must assess student learning and ensure that the work submitted is their own.

Lastly, there is the potential for students to unknowingly propagate biases if they don’t truly understand the knowledge they are sourcing from the AI.

Further examination required

  • Whether students who rely on AI assistance have lower critical thinking and writing skills or provide insight into real-world situations where students have struggled because of a dependence on AI assistance.
  • Case studies of schools that have struggled with incorporating AI and how they overcame those challenges.
  • Case study of a school that successfully incorporated AI into its curriculum and how it was able to evaluate student learning and development.
  • Research on the effects of AI assistance on students’ writing abilities and critical thinking skills or anecdotes from educators who have observed these effects in their students.

Incorporating AI in Education

As AI becomes an increasingly prominent part of our lives, educators must address its role in the classroom. Rather than simply ignoring or hoping to catch students who use AI, we need to teach them how to incorporate it responsibly and effectively.

This means taking a nuanced approach to incorporating AI in education. On the one hand, we want to provide students with the tools and resources they need to succeed in an increasingly tech-driven world. On the other hand, we don’t want to hinder their development of critical thinking and writing skills by relying too heavily on AI assistance.

One way to strike this balance is by teaching students how to use AI as a tool rather than a crutch. This means allowing them to experiment with different AI platforms and programs and showing them how to use them to enhance their own ideas and thoughts. It also means guiding when and how to use AI assistance and when it’s better to rely on their own knowledge and skills.

Ultimately, the key is to find a balance between incorporating AI into education and maintaining the focus on students’ ability to generate their own ideas and thoughts. By teaching students to use AI responsibly and effectively, we can ensure they gain the necessary skills to succeed in an increasingly technological world.

Assess students on their understanding and ability to use AI effectively

A key aspect of incorporating AI in education is proper evaluation and assessment. Rather than just accepting AI-assisted work at face value, we need to assess whether students truly understand and generate their own ideas. This means looking beyond the words on the page and considering the thought process behind them.

This could involve providing them with a set of guidelines or criteria for using AI in their work and then evaluating their ability to follow those guidelines and incorporate AI in a way that adds value to their work. This teaches students how to use AI responsibly and allows for a more comprehensive evaluation of their learning.

For example, a student studying creative writing could use AI to generate potential plot points or character traits but then be required to develop those ideas on their own and incorporate them into their own writing. This allows for the incorporation of AI without sacrificing the student’s ability to generate their own ideas and thoughts.

Additional Ideas for Incorporating AI in Education

  • AI can provide personalized learning experiences for students, adapt to their individual needs and learning styles, and provide real-time feedback on their progress.
  • AI can be used to provide immediate personalized feedback on writing assignments.
  • AI can be used to curate and organize vast amounts of information, allowing students to quickly access and evaluate relevant sources for their research and projects.
  • AI can help organize and structure students’ ideas, providing a starting point for their own thinking and writing.
  • AI can be used as a tool for assessment, providing educators with valuable data on students’ progress and understanding.


The role of AI in education and assessing student learning is a complex and vital issue that cannot be ignored. As educators, we are responsible for teaching students to use AI responsibly and effectively while assessing their understanding and ability to generate their own ideas. We must not let the convenience of AI assistance hinder the development of critical thinking and writing skills in our students.

As we continue to incorporate AI into our daily lives, we must address its impact on education and learning. We must strive for a balanced approach that allows for the use of AI without sacrificing the fundamental skills and knowledge that our students need to succeed.

How are you incorporating AI into your teaching and assessment practices? And, more importantly, how are you ensuring that your students are learning and developing their own skills and knowledge rather than relying solely on AI assistance?

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