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The Parthenon

Marshall University's Student Newspaper

The Parthenon

Marshall University's Student Newspaper

The Parthenon

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Artificial Intelligence has Academic Value

AI will allow students to come to their professor’s office hours with deeper questions, said a member of Marshall’s iCenter in a lecture on Friday, April 5.

David Wiley, the iCenter’s entrepreneur in residence, and Rick Weible, a professor in the College of Business, delivered a lecture on how to use artificial intelligence. The lecture, according to Marshall University’s events website, was intended to teach students and faculty members about prompt patterns that would allow AI to improve understanding, automate output to reduce manual labor and a way for large language models to lead conversations.

Furthermore, since most students are working late into the night, these AI prompts would allow them to receive answers as soon as possible, in a timely manner.

“The folks that do come to office hours will come with deeper questions, harder questions,” Wiley said. “We can really dig in on the things that you need to spend one-on-one time between a student and faculty member.”

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Although AI can be a useful tool, Wiley said it is important to be specific when giving these programs instructions.

“You have to be very clear and very specific, as if you’re writing instructions for Amelia Bedelia,” Wiley said.

Wiley also covered different ways to interact with AI and how to get it to generate the information wanted, including using certain prompts depending on the desired information. Wiley listed the zero-shot prompt, which asks AI to generate something without being provided an example, the one-shot prompt, where the user provides the program with at least one example, and the chain of thought prompt, where the user tells the AI what they want, provides examples and asks for step-by-step reasoning.

Wiley recommended telling the program it is wrong instead of creating a new prompt when AI programs provide wrong answers.

“If your first attempt at prompting doesn’t give you the answer that you wanted, which frequently will not,” Wiley said, “then before you go through kind of tweaking your prompts to try to make it clearer or better, you can just say something like, ‘No, that was wrong. Think about why that was wrong and try again,’ and the model will generate another answer.”

Wiley said users should interact with AI like a regular conversation to better improve user prompting and the AI’s understanding. He said even being friendly to the AI will provide better results.

“When your prompts are more polite,” Wiley said. “ChatGPT tries harder to be more helpful and tries to be more useful.”

Wiley said AI is similar to the internet; when the internet was new, people asked the question of why it should be used. He saidAI removes the obstacles of expertise and allows educators to create their work in a timely manner in the same way the internet removes time and distance as obstacles.

“I mean, it’s much quicker for me as a faculty member to write a quiz using that tool,” Wiley said, “but it’s even better for me to give you that prompt and say go generate your own quiz because, secretly, what I’m really hoping is that you’re going to look at the instructions I wrote in that prompt, and you’re going to learn something about how to do an effective study session.”

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