The Edinburgh Napier University project is being led by Dr Sam Illingworth

Date posted

8 January 2024


An Edinburgh Napier University (ENU) project investigating the use of artificial intelligence (AI) tools such as ChatGPT in Universities across the UK is set to get underway after being backed by nearly £150,000 in funding.

The research, which will be led by Dr Sam Illingworth (pictured) from the University’s Department of Learning and Teaching Enhancement, will look at how AI is being used by students, as well as the challenges and ethical implications it poses.

The Leverhulme Trust, one of the largest all-subject providers of research funding in the UK, has now awarded ENU a Research Project Grant of £142,762 to allow the project to begin.

Released in November 2022, OpenAI’s chatbot ChatGPT, which harnesses AI to produce human-like conversations, has been used millions of times. Similar so-called large language models, such as Google Bard, Bing AI and Claude, have also grown in popularity. However, research into their impact remains in its infancy.Associate Professor Dr Sam Illingworth

This project, entitled ‘Investigating the Experiences of ChatGPT and AI by Students in UK Universities’, will include qualitative interviews with students, a large-scale survey, a literature review, and an extensive analysis of the collected data.

It is hoped the findings of the two-year study could be used to benefit higher education institutions, policymakers, AI developers, and the broader academic community.

Dr Sam Illingworth, Associate Professor at Edinburgh Napier University, said: “With AI tools becoming increasingly prominent in higher education, and likely to grow even further during 2024, we need to understand how they are perceived and used by students.

“Our goal is to ask students how they are using these technologies instead of making assumptions.

“In the rapidly evolving landscape of higher education, finding out how platforms like ChatGPT are shaping student experiences is more important than ever.

“This research aims to illuminate the benefits, challenges, and broader implications of AI adoption in UK universities.

“We are excited to embark on this journey, confident that our findings will significantly contribute to the future of education."