A new study found that students have increasingly chosen to study with ChatGPT instead of a human tutor, many citing that the AI tool was a more effective studying tool than a tutor.

Of all the students surveyed for this report – about 3,017 high school and college students between the ages of 16 and 24 – nearly all have replaced some of their tutoring sessions with ChatGPT. The study also surveyed about 3,234 parents of younger students and found that they did the same.

A small percentage of students, 10 percent, say they studied with both ChatGPT and a tutor this past academic year, while 15 percent of parents with school-aged children say their kids did the same.

Overall, 85 percent of the students surveyed say their grades have improved since making the switch to studying with ChatGPT. This number is higher for parents of school-aged children, 96 percent of whom say that studying with ChatGPT is more effective than studying with a tutor for their children.

A survey participant, college junior Johnson Adegoke, stated that as a current student using ChatGPT he “found it to be a helpful and convenient tool for studying.”

“Unlike seeing a tutor, ChatGPT is available 24/7 and can answer my questions immediately,” he continues. “Plus, I can study at my own pace and review the information as many times as I need to. While it’s not quite the same as having a human tutor, I appreciate the accessibility and flexibility that ChatGPT offers.”

In addition, the survey found that the most common subjects students have replaced tutors for are math and science. The survey also noted that about 95 percent of students and parents of students surveyed say their grades have gotten better since they or their children started studying with ChatGPT.

However, some respondents still believed that tutoring is still more effective than ChatGPT. One of the reasons cited is that, unlike the AI tool, human tutors or mentors “can stimulate students’ interest in a variety of ways, including encouragement, discussion, and practice.”

In addition, the survey quoted some education experts who have cautioned ChatGPT may not yet be an effective replacement for human tutors.

“As with most things in life, it has its advantages and disadvantages,” said Meteusz Kostrz, cofounder of Edunade and former tutor. “A big advantage is the time-saving component, where instead of researching for hours and sometimes days, one can find relevant information in a matter of seconds.”

However, the overuse of this AI tool also harms students.

“[It] reduces their ability to think creatively and quickly come up with solutions, because they are used to being able to simply input their query and get an answer. That can be very easily seen when writing essays, which some students cannot do anymore without help from AI,” he explains.

Some like Diane Gayeski, a professor of Strategic Communications at Ithaca College, believe that instead of a total replacement of human tutors, ChatGPT can be used as an important tool in the development of intelligent tutoring systems – computer systems that provide personalized  lessons and feedback without a human teacher.

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Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez is a MeriTalk State and Local Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.