Generative artificial intelligence literacy amongst science students



artificial intelligence, ChatGPT, digital literacy, student voice, academic integrity



The emergence of ChatGPT 3 at the start of 2023 was greeted with a mix of opinions about whether generative artificial intelligence (AI) tools could be used to improve our teaching or were an obstacle to maintaining academic integrity and student learning (reviewed in Rasul et al., 2023). Early discussions, particularly media coverage, were focused on university and academic opinions at the expense of the student voice (Sullivan et al., 2023). Universities have a responsibility to ensure all students are digitally literate and able to make ethical choices about generative AI in their work and studies.


This research examined students’ awareness, experience and confidence in their ability to use ChatGPT and other generative AI tools ethically.


An online survey was distributed to all students at Edith Cowan University at the beginning of semester one, 2023, with a mix of closed and open-ended questions. Quantitative data were analysed in SPSS, while qualitative data were thematically coded.


At the start of the semester, most students (n=1135) had heard nothing or very little about ChatGPT and other generative AI tools. However, Science and Engineering students had significantly more awareness and experience with generative AI compared to other schools, including Medical and Health Sciences. However, some students were more confident in their ability to use generative AI ethically than expected given their lack of practical experience. Qualitative data showed that while many Science and Engineering students were excited about the potential of AI, they also had concerns about its reliability and how it would impact their studies and society as a whole, and they expected the University to supply resources and training.


University students, and Science and Engineering students in particular, are engaged with the emergence of ChatGPT and other generative AI, but want more support to work through the benefits, risks, and practical applications for their work. As a result of this research, Edith Cowan University has introduced ChatGPT resources and training for students.


Rasul, T., Nair, S., Kalendra, D., Robin, M., de Oliveira Santini, F., Ladeira, W. J., ... & Heathcote, L. (2023). The role of ChatGPT in higher education: Benefits, challenges, and future research directions. Journal of Applied Learning and Teaching, 6(1).

Sullivan, M., Kelly, A., & McLaughlan, P. (2023). ChatGPT in higher education: Considerations for academic integrity and student learning. Journal of Applied Learning and Teaching, 6(1), 1-10.