May 2, 2024 at 3:28 pm

Students Who Use ChatGPT Experience Memory Loss And Increased Procrastination

by Trisha Leigh

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I went to college, and I can confirm that procrastination is something that’s already pretty common among students.

That said, your average 20yo probably doesn’t typically have to worry about memory loss.

Unless, it turns out, they use ChatGPT.

New research has found a concerning link between the two, and the study was published in the International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education.

They surveyed hundreds of university students, undergrads all the way to doctoral candidates, over two phases. Their interest in the area began when they all began to notice more and more of their students were relying on ChatGPT.

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Study co-author Muhammad Abhas says most professors have noticed this shift.

“My interest in this topic stemmed from the growing prevalence of generative artificial intelligence in academia an its potential impact on students. For the last year, I observed an increasing, uncritical, reliance on generative AI tools among my students for various assignments and projects I assigned.”

Phase 1 was collecting responses from participants regarding their degree of reliance on ChatGPT. They used a scale that started at “I use Chat GPT for my course assignments” and ended with “ChatGPT is part of my campus life.”

In Phase 2, they expanded their scope to around 500 students who were surveyed three times every one to three weeks.

They found that students who had a heavy academic workload and a lot of pressure were more likely to use ChatGPT, which probably isn’t a surprise.

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However, the finding that the students who relied on it more also reported higher instances of procrastination, memory loss, and lower GPAs was more of a surprise.

They think the reason is simple: the chatbot is making school work too easy.

“Since ChatGPT can quickly respond to any questions asked by a user, students who excessively use ChatGPT may reduce their cognitive efforts to complete their academic tasks, resulting in poor memory.”

There were other results that felt surprising, too.

“Contrary to expectations, students who were more sensitive to rewards were less likely to use generative AI.”

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Which is to say, students who cared a lot about their grades or getting caught would avoid using the chatbot altogether.

So, the relationship could go a couple of ways. Students might be turning to ChatGPT because their grades are suffering, not the other way around.

Of course, the information in this study was all self-reported, which can come with its own biases.

Still, the professors involved say we should be worried about ChatGPT’s role in higher education.

“The average person should recognize the dark side of excessive generative AI usage. While these tools offer convenience, they can also lead to negative consequences such as procrastination, memory loss, and compromised academic performance.”

That may all be true, but good luck convincing at least some factions of students not to take the easy road.

It won’t be easy.

If you enjoyed that story, check out what happened when a guy gave ChatGPT $100 to make as money as possible, and it turned out exactly how you would expect.