ChatGPT is a human–artificial intelligence (AI) interaction application that was released on 30 April 2022. Since then, ChatGPT has been popularized worldwide rapidly. ChatGPT, in part, is capable of answering a wide variety of human-asked questions in ample domains of knowledge. ChatGPT also contains a function that automatically writes an essay in fewer than minutes. ChatGPT is, therefore, seen as a revolutionized instrument that helps students complete their coursework and assessments.
With the use of ChatGPT, students can be provided with personalized, reliable and specialized guidance in completing schoolwork on behalf of the academic learners themselves. Ranging from a subject-specific query to a general academic issue, ChatGPT can deliver a tailor-made response/solution in fewer than minutes, reducing the amount of human effort to complete school assignments to a significant extent. ChatGPT, in addition, is always accessible. Regardless of the time zones and locations users follow or reside in, respectively, they do not face any constraints that bar them from using ChatGPT to help complete coursework or assessments (Baidoo and Ansah 2023
). As many ChatGPT applications are either freely accessible or require a very small payment to use, instrumentalizing such technology to facilitate academic fulfilment is a cost-effective approach (Mhlanga 2023
). Even if students are not financially independent or advantaged, they should be able to afford the use of ChatGPT to assist in their completion of academic tasks.
ChatGPT also contains ample languages as media of instructions. Even if students need to complete their academic tasks in languages other than English, the application should be helpful to provide instant academic advice and assistance. Not only is ChatGPT a linguistically compatible application, it is also culturally inclusive that helps answer queries based on cultural contexts (Kasneci et al. 2023
). As a result, the convenience, accessibility. and inclusivity of ChatGPT have propelled its popularity in academic learning. It is noteworthy that ChatGPT, in addition to answering academic questions, can edit and proofread academic essays (Lecler et al. 2023
). Users are able to benefit from ChatGPT from the early stages of research and planning to the final stage of preparing their work for submission. Given all these benefits, not only is the rapid popularization of ChatGPT sparking international attention but concerns about academic and research integrity have been raised owing to how the revolutionized application interrupts students’ academic dedication (Shiri 2023
2. Risks of Using ChatGPT
As an AI-powered interactive platform, ChatGPT offers ample benefits that are conducive to students’ learning, development and self-growth, so far as such technology is appropriately used (Yan 2023
). However, when ChatGPT is not used aptly, a range of risks may be posed that harm the interests of students, teachers and schools.
A primary concern is that students overly relying on ChatGPT to complete essays and coursework may be at risk of violating the plagiarism rules (Anders 2023
). ChatGPT generates responses to the queries of students based on existing data, there is a high possibility that students using the application to complete academic work would inadvertently include content that is copied from existing, published sources (Choi et al. 2023
). Those violating plagiarism are accused of significant academic misconduct and may potentially be subject to school punishment. Students are supposed to, at most, use ChatGPT as an assistance tool to help guide their thinking and research process in order to help facilitate their own development of essays or other academic work. However, given the laziness and irresponsibility of a portion of students, these ChatGPT users may directly copy the AI-generated responses to answer academic assessment questions (Khalil and Er 2023
). Not only do these students lose the opportunity to develop their critical thinking and independent learning skills, but they are also performing academic misconduct that should be punitively prohibited.
These students, over time, may be increasingly dependent on ChatGPT for the completion of their academic assignments. These students, in the long run, lose the opportunity to accumulate their pool of knowledge and problem-solving ability. Being overly dependent on ChatGPT to complete assessments, in addition, hinders students from building their creativity and long-term cognitive development, harming their overall academic, social and career performance if ChatGPT is not applicable in any setting (Rudolph et al. 2023
Those abusing ChatGPT as a shortcut to completing school tasks may miss out on valuable opportunities to develop their collaboration and communication skills too. With the availability of ChatGPT, students may be less willing to seek help from their teachers, peers or parents, as they believe the AI-powered programme is able to come up with a (non-)academic solution instantly. The loss of opportunities to sharpen their collaboration and communication skills limits their ability to work effectively in groups—a needed criterion for success in ample professional fields (Arif et al. 2023
Using ChatGPT aptly can help academic learners complete their tasks more cost-effectively and in a timely manner. However, when academic learners unduly depend on the AI-powered platform to complete academic assignments, their levels of independence are likely to diminish. Therefore, the use of ChatGPT, despite the notable benefits, has been sparking international concern.
3. Should ChatGPT Be Regulated?
These concerns lead to the consideration of whether the use of ChatGPT should be tightly regulated. In today’s climate, online education has been expanding massively (Firat 2023
). The use of technological platforms to facilitate academic learning and development has been growingly common. However, why the use of ChatGPT has been drawing a raft of controversies is because, unlike alternative technological tools, users may exploit such an AI-powered tool to challenge academic integrity. The purpose of academic learning is not to achieve impressively high scores, but to gain critical thinking and problem-solving skills that are conducive to students’ lifelong development. If academic learners solely or primarily rely on ChatGPT to complete coursework and assignments, they are wasting the opportunities to develop these skills in favor of their development and growth (Iskender 2023
Inappropriately using ChatGPT also poses ethical considerations (Sallam 2023
). As said, some students may lazily cheat on coursework or assignments by submitting plagiarized work. Such an ethical issue violates the purpose of learning and damages the academic conduct that all students should comply with in educational settings. At higher-level education, students may logically be given more rights and higher flexibility to use ChatGPT when completing their academic work. However, at lower levels, students may not necessarily have the maturity and awareness of how to aptly use AI-powered technology while, simultaneously, building their own knowledge pool and independent thinking, critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
While ChatGPT is a helpful tool to enhance students’ academic learning progress and efficiency, the technological tool should not be used as a subtitle for academic diligence, problem-solving and critical thinking (Dis et al. 2023
). Appropriate policies should be set up in academia accordingly to help educators ensure that academic and ethical integrity is maintained by students.