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Report on Student Attitudes Towards AI in Academia at UIC

Overview: This report simplifies findings from a questionnaire of UIC students — undergraduate and graduate — on their views about using Artificial Intelligence (AI) in their academic lives. The questionnaire sought to understand student perspectives on AI’s ethical implications, educational benefits, and the necessity for AI literacy.

People need to be trained in AI. As far as I know, I have not seen a training course related to how AI can be used in research at UIC for students, which can both increase the quality of research and save time for students.

College of Engineering, Graduate Student
An AI represented as a robot ruminates over a survey about AI in education.

Key Statistics:

  • Participation: Students across multiple colleges participated, from freshmen to graduate students.
  • AI Usage: 27% use AI tools weekly, while 28% never use them. Popular tools include Grammarly (67%), ChatGPT (80%), DALL-E (11%), and Bard/Gemini (11%).
  • Purpose for AI: Main uses are for writing help (75%), research (56%), study assistance (50%), and managing time (25%).

General Sentiments:

  • Mixed Feelings on Homework: 35% are neutral about using AI for assignments.
  • Instructor Use of AI: Over half are okay with teachers using AI to make images or interactive content for classes. However, there’s a split on whether it’s right for instructors to use AI for creating class materials, with concerns about it making classes feel less personal and reducing the value of interaction.

Ethical Concerns:

  • Academic Integrity: Half of the students worry about cheating related to AI. Opinions vary, with some seeing AI as a helpful tool for brainstorming and research, while others feel using AI to write is dishonest.

“Using it as a tool to help brainstorm and research seems ok, but it’s plagiarism if it’s writing for you.” (Liberal Arts and Sciences, Graduate Student)

“Instructors using AI to create class resources is also dishonest. Students pay tuition and deserve to have full effort from their teachers. Using AI creates an impersonal atmosphere and diminishes the value of a learning community.” (Liberal Arts and Sciences, First Year Undergraduate)

“I think it depends on the use case; utilizing AI to create content and passing it off on your own is absolutely cheating. However, I do not think it constitutes cheating when using it as a tool for writing assistance (Grammarly).” (Applied Health Sciences, Graduate Student)


 Educational Value:

  • Research and Writing Aid: About 40% value AI for assisting with their studies, but they urge caution about its limitations and the need for ethical use.
  • AI Literacy Needed: Over 30% want more education on how to use AI tools responsibly, especially to discern facts from misinformation.

“People need to be trained in AI. As far as I know, I have not seen a training course related to how AI can be used in research at UIC for students, which can both increase the quality of research and save time for students.” (College of Engineering, Graduate Student)

“I think it’s a tool like SPSS, and we should be taught how to use it.” (Applied Health Sciences, Graduate Student)

“While I am against ANY and ALL use of AI in the classroom as I believe it degrades a student’s ability to truly learn a subject, I trust that UIC will be able to accurately discern what is and is not appropriate integration of AI.” (Liberal Arts and Sciences, First Year Undergraduate)

“Rather than dismiss it, teach students how to use AI responsibly. Times are changing, and we can use new tools to cultivate a better generation of thinkers than past years rather than allow AI tools to take over critical thinking abilities.” (College of Engineering, Fourth Year Undergraduate)


AI-Required Tasks:

  • 61% said that instructors have not required using AI for assignments, and 17% reported that they wished their instructors did require it.

“AI is the future, and there’s no stopping it. It is better to invest resources into how to ethically use AI than to try to ban or restrict its use. We teach students about plagiarism. Teaching students about the ethical use of AI should be no different. Also, AI can be an incredibly powerful tool to help even the playing field for those with learning disabilities.” (Liberal Arts and Sciences, Fourth Year Undergraduate)

“AI tools like ChatGPT help me understand complex topics that I struggle with in class.” (Engineering, Third Year Undergraduate)

“AI can ease the load on students and instructors when faced with asking sequential questions to aid learning and recommendations such as for outlines or coding, or even providing example responses to aid in comprehension. Students’ use of AI should not be discounted. AI will continue to evolve and be used by students. However, UIC must support students in developing strong critical thinking skills to allow AI to serve as an example and template.” (School of Public Health, Graduate Student)

“The use of AI is the future. It’s best to make use of our resources and adapt to the tools that we have.” (Business Administration, Fifth Year or Beyond Undergraduate)


AI as a Tool vs. Cheating:

  • Learning Enhancement: 45% view AI as beneficial for learning if used correctly, though there remains concern about its potential to facilitate cheating.
  • Internet vs. AI: Some students argue that using AI is not different from using the Internet for homework help, suggesting the need for more effective assessment methods that AI can’t easily manipulate.

“It can certainly be used for academic misconduct but can just as easily be used as a tool to learn.” (Engineering, Fifth Year or Beyond Undergraduate)

“It depends. Copying directly from an AI would constitute cheating in the same way copying from any human would also be cheating.” (Liberal Arts and Sciences, First Year Undergraduate)

“If it is used to write essays and do one’s work for them, I would consider it academic dishonesty. I would not consider it academic dishonesty if it is used to understand a topic further. The tools summarize lots of information into big and broad concepts, which may help students understand the concepts from class in a simpler sense.” (Liberal Arts and Sciences, Second Year Undergraduate)

“If using the internet to find the answers to homework assignments is permitted, then I think that the use of AI doesn’t differ that much from the internet.” (Liberal Arts and Sciences, Fourth Year Undergraduate)

“The university should be more focused on creating ways to test if a student knows the material that cannot be simply dumped into AI and have the AI produce results that are good enough to pass.” (Architecture, Design, and the Arts, Third Year Undergraduate)


Recommendations from Students:

  1. Clear Guidelines: Students desire explicit rules from UIC about acceptable AI use to prevent academic dishonesty.
  2. AI Literacy Programs: There is a strong call for programs that improve understanding of AI’s abilities and ethical usage.
  3. Open Dialogue: Students want ongoing conversations with faculty to set clear expectations and explore AI’s possibilities responsibly.


The findings highlight a nuanced view among UIC students regarding AI in education. While recognizing AI’s potential, students express serious concerns about integrity, the need for literacy, and guidance. As AI continues to integrate into educational settings, understanding and addressing these concerns will be critical.