AI-Assisted Technologies are Increasing Critical Thinking Skills

Artificial Intelligence (AI) can play a rather crucial role in nurturing the critical thinking skills that students and new graduates need in today’s rapidly changing world.

Enhancing learners’ critical thinking skills with AI-assisted technology provides a unique opportunity for both students and faculty to improve the learning experience focusing on developing critical thinking skills. A current major concern among employers today is that many graduates are not able to apply critical thinking to solve practical problems in their workplace. According to Anthony Bartolo, Principal Cloud Advocate Lead at Microsoft, Artificial Intelligence is increasingly being recognized as an important tool for educators to help students in their learning process. This includes OpenAI’s ChatGPT, which has created so much debate in the academic world.

Having a look at the aspects of critical thinking, we can clearly see how the use of AI-assisted technology in colleges and universities is paramount to the future of higher education and the success of new graduates in the era of AI.

The fundamental aspects of critical thinking include:

  • Understanding and analyzing ideas, claims, evidence, and arguments
  • Judging or evaluating ideas and arguments based on evidence
  • Making inferences using inductive or deductive reasoning
  • Solving problems and making decisions through reasoning

Bartolo proposes that “to enable critical thinking through the use of AI, professors could get students to submit their work to ChatGPT to have it evaluate and provide feedback of their submitted work.” He argues that this kind of exercise would be useful to help students develop their critical thinking skills as they learn to evaluate and understand the feedback they have received from the AI.

Bartolo goes on to say that professors could “instruct students to think of ChatGPT as a fellow student, collaborating with it in a learning environment.” Indeed, this type of exercise will prepare them for a future where they will find themselves living in a world where humans and machines/AI collaboration is going to be the norm. And, for this kind of hybrid human-AI collaboration, they will need sharp critical thinking skills. In other words, the use of ChatGPT and other AI-assisted technologies as a learning tool can help prepare today’s students for the real world by encouraging critical thinking.

According to the American Psychological Association, Gary Lupyan, Ph.D, a Professor of Psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, says that the bot [ChatGPT] may be best used to help students think critically about topics they’re already familiar with. “Like talking with a colleague, it can be an interactive partner that’s useful in areas you know a lot about already, so you can critically evaluate the suggestion without blindly copying it,” he said. 

As AI literacy becomes increasingly essential in education, so is the use of AI to better prepare students for a future with AI. In such a future, possessing highly developed critical thinking skills coupled with soft skills and other 21st century skills will be the critical factors that will differentiate human intelligence from Artificial Intelligence. Possessing a highly trained human intelligence able to think critically is what will prepare today’s students for future workforce needs. 

For more articles on AI in higher education, see:

AI Literacy is a Fundamental Pillar in Higher Education

How Universities Can Better Prepare Students for a Future with AI

Student Perspectives on Artificial Intelligence in Academia

How to Integrate AI into Higher Education