I don’t need to start this post with the usual predictions that AI will transform our classrooms. It is obviously happening. Students are cheating with AI. Students are getting help with AI. I have required AI for all my classes this semester, and I hear more instructors are doing the same. GPT-4 tutors are being launched by large organizations (both Khan Academy and Duolingo currently have them). The world is changing fast.
But one thing that is not changing is the best way for people to learn. We have made large advances in recent years in understanding pedagogy - the science of learning. We know some of the most effective techniques for making sure material sticks and that it can be retrieved and used when needed most.
Unfortunately, many of these advanced pedagogical techniques are time-consuming to prepare, and many instructors are often overworked and do not have the resources and time to add them to their teaching repertoire. But AI can help. In the rush to deliver AI benefits directly to students, the role of teachers is often overlooked. AI tutors, as exciting as they are, do not replace the complex role of a teacher in front of a class. But not enough effort seems to be going towards applying AI to help instructors. We have a new paper that tries to remedy that gap, by providing some research-backed approaches to pedagogy, and the AI prompts (for GPT-4, GPT-3.5, and other AIs) to implement them. You can read the paper here, but I wanted to summarize some of those approaches.
Explaining complicated ideas often means giving students lots of examples so they can truly grasp what you mean. When teachers provide multiple examples, it helps students understand abstract concepts in a real-world way, challenges them to think critically, and shows how subtle aspects of ideas can work in different situations. Ultimately, this approach makes it easier for students to apply what they've learned in new areas.