A charcoal sketch of a girl shrugging and smiling, looking at the camera, sitting in front of a computer

“But Artificial Intelligence Can Do It For Me!”

How do we nurture excellence in a world where “artificial intelligence can do it for me”?

I homeschooled my elder daughter last year and this year. This year she’s attending Sora Schools (and loving it, I might add); last year I built her curriculum.

This story is about last year, when she was in 7th grade.

I gave her an assignment that asked her use ChatGPT to create a 2-3 page paper. Her task was to develop one or more prompts that would write the paper for her and meet the criteria I set out in the rubric.

She was allowed to revise the prompting as many times as she needed, and she was allowed to revise the Gen AI’s writing to improve it. She was not allowed to write the whole thing herself.

It was her first time using any Generative AI, and she really struggled.

Building good prompts is a backward design process, and she’d never worked that way! She was initially shocked that she had to write up to 3 pages (to a 7th grader, that’s basically a book). After struggling to write successful prompts for a while, she asked multiple times whether she could just write it herself! I held firm and she finally came up with a successful prompt that generated a paper.

So here’s where motivation comes in. We’d discussed that ChatGPT would probably create about a B-level paper, and that she’d likely need to edit and revise its work to create something better: by bringing in personal stories, adding her own tone, etc. She was able to ask for feedback on drafts prior to a final submission, and she was able to edit before submitting it for evaluation and a grade.

But she didn’t spend much time editing it. She made some modifications but turned in the paper largely as written by ChatGPT. I evaluated it against the rubric (admittedly not a perfectly scientific measurement, but I did it as objectively as I could).

It got an 86.
Meaning ChatGPT performed exactly as predicted.

I told her the grade and gave feedback, and again asked whether she’d like to revise the paper to improve it. She didn’t. She was satisfied with an 86 on the assignment if it meant she was done.

Hence my question about motivation. If Gen AI produces adequate work, and it’ll only get better, how do we motivate learners to produce great work of their own?

How can we foster motivation and a mindset of excellence in the age of “but AI can do it for me”?

I have some thoughts but definitely not all the answers. I’d love to hear yours!





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