Another unintended benefit of chat AIs

Professors always hope for crisp, clear, and correct answers from students in response to questions. Often, we get wishy-washy answers that make us despair.

This gets particularly bad when asking for a term definition. For example, I might ask: “What is a for loop in computer programming?” hoping for something like “A for loop is a control-flow construct that enables linear iteration over an index or a set.” (From the top of my head, don’t nail me to it.)

Instead, a student might answer: “A for loop relates to how computers count numbers so that you can perform tasks repeatedly.” I asked for a definition, and this is anything but.

Enter chat AIs. Looking at the emails I receive from students, they ask chat AIs for each and everything. If they ask for term definitions, they hopefully will get the common structure of


Now that textbooks seem a thing of the past, and that chat AIs may become a source of learning, hopefully the structured responses of chat AIs will lead to students adopting similarly structured responses.

Please note that it doesn’t even matter whether the term definition provided by an AI is any good, as long as students learn what’s important about defining terms.

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