Knowledge Sharing

Embracing and overcoming AI implementation in the UK Higher Education setting

Academics from Sheffield Business School continue the Dynamic Conversation with a presentation on how to navigate barriers to AI implementation in higher education.

17th May 2024
Opinion AI

Are academics GAI-ready?

2nd August 2023


Dr Kamilya Suleymenova

Associate Professor, Birmingham Business School

Dr Mary Dawood

Assistant Professor, Birmingham Business School

Dr Maria Psyllou

Lecturer, Birmingham Business School

Almost a year ago, Dr Toral and Dr Chapain launched the Birmingham Business School (BBS) journey at the University of Birmingham (UoB) focused on developing the pedagogical research and scholarship agenda. This was building on the School’s existing business education expertise and acquired new impulse and direction with their initiative.

One of the results of this initiative was the “The Collaborative Futures: Online Colloquium”, co-hosted by the Disruptive Innovations in Business Education Research Group, Business School of the University of Sydney, and our own Birmingham Business School. This event has the potential to kick-start the pedagogical research collaboration between the two institutions and was an excellent opportunity for academics from both continents to present their latest pedagogical research, on topics of student engagement, art-based education practice, etc. Our presentation focused on the impact of generative Artificial Intelligence (GAI).

Our study “Perspectives on Text-generative AI in Economics Assessment" is an initial effort to evaluate the potential challenges and opportunities of this new and exciting technology, particularly within the context of Business Schools. The focus was on understanding how educators are able and willing to use GAI in assessments, while examining the influence of their academic values on shaping future teaching and assessment methodologies. We began by analysing the answers generated by ChatGPT and Bard in response to prompts based on the assessments for several second-year modules. After presenting the results we have obtained by experimenting with GAI outputs, we surveyed colleagues in the Department of Economics to share their insights of how the existing assessments can be adapted.

The results showed that there is an almost even split between colleagues who are not comfortable with the use of GAI and those who have already embraced these new functionalities. Interestingly, so far, we have found no obvious pattern as to who embeds GAI in their day-to-day practice and will take forward these skills to students in the coming academic year. Unsurprisingly, there are already signs of moving away from traditional essay-style assessments and an increase in the desire to implement more creative and authentic solutions. While we fully acknowledge the limitations of our subject-specific study, it is already clear that the use of GAI divides opinions between a more conservative perspective, based on a strong value of integrity and fears of diluting the quality of grades as a signal of students’ individual ability and a more creative view, based on future employability skills approach.

Based on the findings and discussions, several recommendations can be highlighted to guide instructors and higher education institutions (HEIs) in navigating the ever-evolving landscape of GAI while upholding academic values. The first step towards embracing this new technology seems to be building knowledge and familiarity among colleagues and, in particular, creating safe spaces for them to experiment with GAI and to explore its potential applications in assessment design. This feeds into the need for HEIs to develop strategies and frameworks to facilitate the continuous and up-to-date AI literacy and how it affects academic practice, in both research and education. Furthermore, the development of policies and guidelines to adapt swiftly and creatively to rapidly changing educational practice and to harness the potential of GAI.

The next step would be integrating GAI in our teaching and learning practice, such that we enhance our students’ learning outcomes and empower them with the necessary transferable skills, for future and futuristic employability opportunities. GAI has the potential to disrupt all landscapes: from education to workplace. The Business Schools and businesses will evolve together and learn from each other. The transferable skills of resilience, adaptability, critical thinking and ethical evaluation have never been more important.