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Artificial Intelligence (AI) Student Assistants in the Classroom: Designing Chatbots to Support Student Success

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In higher education, low teacher-student ratios can make it difficult for students to receive immediate and interactive help. Chatbots, increasingly used in various scenarios such as customer service, work productivity, and healthcare, might be one way of helping instructors better meet student needs. However, few empirical studies in the field of Information Systems (IS) have investigated pedagogical chatbot efficacy in higher education and fewer still discuss their potential challenges and drawbacks. In this research we address this gap in the IS literature by exploring the opportunities, challenges, efficacy, and ethical concerns of using chatbots as pedagogical tools in business education. In this two study project, we conducted a chatbot-guided interview with 215 undergraduate students to understand student attitudes regarding the potential benefits and challenges of using chatbots as intelligent student assistants. Our findings revealed the potential for chatbots to help students learn basic content in a responsive, interactive, and confidential way. Findings also provided insights into student learning needs which we then used to design and develop a new, experimental chatbot assistant to teach basic AI concepts to 195 students. Results of this second study suggest chatbots can be engaging and responsive conversational learning tools for teaching basic concepts and for providing educational resources. Herein, we provide the results of both studies and discuss possible promising opportunities and ethical implications of using chatbots to support inclusive learning.

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Appendix 1: Chatbot Interview questions in Study 1

  1. 1.

    I know we just met, but could you specify your gender? If you have a preferred gender identity, please let me know.

  2. 2.

    So, tell me a bit about yourself. What is your major and do you currently work somewhere?

  3. 3.

    Based on that, how many hours a week to honestly get to study including time to do any assignments?

  4. 4.

    Nice! So, what are some questions/concerns do you frequently have about this course?

  5. 5.

    Alright, I can see how some students could potentially have questions/concerns such as those. Let's say if I were to be always available to answer your questions about Business Systems, what would be some of the main questions you hope I can help you with?

  6. 6.

    Fasho, I can handle that! So, what kind of course materials do you think I could potentially be capable of presenting to you through chatting like this?

  7. 7.

    Hmm, interesting, I think there could be potentially various ways of presenting things to people since everyone learns in different ways. Do you think I could potentially help you in a few things such as developing critical thinking skills and understanding the course material better so you can get a better grade?

  8. 8.

    Okay makes sense, what do you think is my best strength as a potential course assistant for you?

  9. 9.

    Haha I'll do my best to live up to that standard, so based on that then what would you say is my greatest weakness as a course assistant specifically to you? Because I would love to know what I could do my best to improve on!

  10. 10.

    Thank you for sharing all these wonderful examples and experiences! Do you have any questions or comments for me before we wrap this up?

Appendix 2: Chatbot interview questions in Study 2

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Chen, Y., Jensen, S., Albert, L.J. et al. Artificial Intelligence (AI) Student Assistants in the Classroom: Designing Chatbots to Support Student Success. Inf Syst Front 25, 161–182 (2023).

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