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How chatbots & co. influence studies and higher education

Author: Johanna Seiwald

While artificial intelligence tools can enhance student life, they also come fraught with risks. Universities need to explore new avenues in how they conduct their teaching and research activities. ZHAW experts are looking for answers to this new challenge.

Mark Cieliebak sits on one of the sofas in the co-working space of the ZHAW’s Centre for Artificial Intelligence in Winterthur. He gazes through a large window into the next building, where students are currently sitting examinations. According to the Professor for Natural Language Processing at the Centre for Artificial Intelligence, there is an urgent need to consider how universities should deal with new artificial intelligence (AI) tools such as the text-based dialogue system ChatGPT. “My gut feeling tells me that AI would pass most of the examinations. Perhaps not with the highest grade, but maybe with a 4.”


Generative AI technologies, such as ChatGPT, are not only the subject of research at the ZHAW, but are also part of the new study and professional reality. ZHAW is intensively engaged in the integration of AI technologies into teaching to prepare students for the demands of the job market.

When ChatGPT – GPT stands for Generative Pre-trained Transformer – hit the market, schools and universities began to rumble. In New York, public schools are blocking the website, the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts is looking into the use of new anti-plagiarism software, and some are even considering a return to pen and paper. Even in the classroom at the ZHAW, lecturers are soon feeling the first effects and are considering how to use this tool successfully, i.e. in the interest of education.

In order to ensure that the tool is used as uniformly as possible throughout the university, the ZHAW published a guideline on the use of generative AI systems in performance assessments on April 1, 2023.