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Teachers Talk

Susann Fiedler


Susann Fiedler is a professor at and head of the Institute for Cognition and Behavior. As a behavioral scientist, her research focuses on decision-making processes and organizational environments. In this interview, Susann Fiedler provides insights into her experiences using AI in teaching and shares inspiration for including AI in courses.

What describes your teaching?

My teaching is characterized by its dynamic and interactive nature, where students are encouraged not just to absorb information, but to be active contributors to the learning process. By prompting them to draw parallels and relate new information to what they already know, we tap into the foundational principle of cognitive science: activating prior knowledge facilitates the creation of more enduring neural connections and bolsters learning.

To amplify this method, I've incorporated Artificial Intelligence into my classroom. AI helps pinpoint areas where students may lack understanding and customizes content to cater to the class's specific needs. It actively engages their existing knowledge, offering them a framework upon which they can build further. By integrating AI into my teaching, I ensure students gain not only subject-specific knowledge but also the practical skills to leverage AI effectively in their endeavors.

How has AI changed your day-to-day teaching?

One of the most tangible benefits has been the shift in how I allocate my preparation time. The automation and assistance offered by AI have streamlined tasks like slide design and content creation. This efficiency allows me to redirect my energies towards crafting additional take-home quizzes and in-depth case studies, enhancing the depth and breadth of materials available for students.

What were your key learnings when using AI in your course?

I think one key learning for me is that there's an ocean of possibilities, and I feel we've only just skimmed the surface in my classes. I see a clear increase in student engagement upon integrating AI topics and tools into the curriculum. Maybe just because it is a shiny new gadget, but it gets students talking. However, even though there is general interest I realized that there is still substantial variation in proficiency levels among students and for many students a lack of understanding how LLMs work.

A standout approach I've discovered is using ChatGPT to simulate real-life situations. For instance, we've replicated wage negotiation scenarios, where AI emulates different employer personalities and mindsets. This not only helps students refine their argumentation and negotiation skills but also exposes them to a myriad of perspectives and responses.

Additionally, another AI integration was the concept of an AI-student. This provided students with the opportunity to step into the shoes of educators, explaining concepts to their own “digital student”. Witnessing the AI's grasp of their explanations became a reflective exercise for the students, enabling them to generate a deeper understanding of the topic at hand.

What would you recommend to colleagues who are just starting to teach regarding the use of AI in education?

Beginning with AI is often more straightforward than one might think. My own journey started when I took a day to prepare for teaching with ChatGPT and I mean I made using ChatGPT the default - I prompted everything - the easy tasks, the complex tasks, even the tasks where myself wasn't clear yet what the task was. On that day, I learned a lot about its strengths and its limitations, and this understanding has shaped my use since. My first steps involved streamlining and updating my course syllabi, developing clear, step-by-step explanations for group and individual assignments, and developing detailed evaluation rubrics to enhance transparency for all students, and developing optional quizzes. By supplying ChatGPT with study materials, I was able to generate useful multiple choice questions in seconds and my students come now better prepared for class because they can quiz themselves on the way to class. While it's important to recognize the possibilities of AI, for me it's equally crucial to equip students with a foundational understanding of data protection to ensure they uphold privacy standards (simply don't share anything that is not your own and is not openly available online) and to critically evaluate AI (can you back-up the received information?).

I also highly recommend attending one of the AI discussions organized by WU. Sharing experiences and insights with colleagues not only sparked my interest but also equipped me with valuable resources and contacts to others who try out things as well.