Your browser is unsupported

We recommend using the latest version of IE11, Edge, Chrome, Firefox or Safari.

Report on Student Attitudes Towards AI in Academia

This report synthesizes the responses from a survey conducted among undergraduate and graduate students at UIC, aiming to capture their opinions and attitudes toward integrating Artificial Intelligence (AI) in academic settings. The survey collected diverse viewpoints, providing a comprehensive overview of the student body’s stance on AI’s ethical use, educational value, and the perceived need for AI literacy.

An AI robot considers questions on a survey about AI in education.

Summary of Statistics

  1. Participation: The survey saw participation across multiple colleges, reflecting diverse academic interests. Responses came from a broad spectrum of first-year undergraduates to graduate students.
  2. Frequency of AI Tool Use: Responses ranged from “Never” to “Daily,” with 27% of students reporting weekly use while 28% reported never using it.
  3. AI Tools Used: Popular tools include Grammarly (67%), ChatGPT (80%), DALL-E (11%), and Bard/Gemini (11%), with uses ranging from writing assistance to research and study aids.
  4. Reasons for Using AI: The main reasons include writing assistance (75%), research (56%), study aids (50%), and time management (25%).
  5. Views on AI for Homework/Assignments: Opinions were mixed, with 35% reporting feeling neutral about AI.
  6. Comfortable Aspects of AI Use by Instructors: Students reported feeling comfortable with instructors using AI for various aspects; notable aspects were creating AI images for courses (54%), creating interactive content (54%), providing personalized learning recommendations (43%), and designing assignments and assessments (40%).
  7. Instructor Assignment of AI-Required Tasks: Answers varied, with 61% reporting that instructors have not required using AI, 17% reporting that they wish their instructors required using AI, and 13% reporting that their instructors did require use of AI and that it was helpful in learning.
  8. Comments About Using AI at UIC: A wide range of comments, from concerns about academic dishonesty and the impersonality of AI to endorsements of its efficiency, calls for UIC to adapt and educate about AI use.

Key Findings

Academic Integrity and AI: Approximately 50% of respondents expressed concerns about AI and academic dishonesty, indicating a split view on the appropriate use of AI in academic work.

  • “It depends on what it’s for, but if you’re using it to produce writing and you don’t disclose that AI produced it, it’s dishonest.” (Liberal Arts and Sciences, Fifth Year or Beyond Undergraduate)
  • “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)
  • “It is entirely dependent on the individual using the tool to use it within academically and ethically acceptable guidelines.” (Liberal Arts and Sciences, Second 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 of AI: Around 40% of students acknowledged using AI for research and writing assistance, highlighting its utility in their academic endeavors; however, many mentioned caution regarding its limitations and ethical use.

  • “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)


Need for AI Literacy: Over 30% of students called for more education on AI tool usage, indicating a perceived gap in AI literacy. There was a strong call from undergraduate and graduate students for educational initiatives to foster AI literacy, highlighting the importance of understanding how to use AI tools responsibly and ethically.

  • “UIC should be proactive in educating students on how to use AI tools carefully, especially regarding fact-checking and misinformation.” (Liberal Arts and Sciences, Fifth Year or Beyond Undergraduate)
  • “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)
  • “Integrate it; higher education is meant to be on the bleeding edge, to be pushing boundaries.” (Applied Health Sciences, Fifth Year or Beyond Undergraduate)
  • “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 as a Learning Tool vs. Cheating: About 45% of respondents view AI as a beneficial tool for learning if used properly, though concerns about facilitating cheating remain.

  • “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)
  • “AI has helped with learning key concepts of a topic. It stimulates critical thinking skills for proper use.” (Nursing, Graduate Student)
  • “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)

Summary of Student Recommendations

The feedback gathered suggests several key desires from the student body regarding AI in academia, especially in encouraging discussions about the ethical dimensions of AI in academia, supporting a balanced approach to leveraging AI as an educational tool while upholding academic standards.

  1. Clarity and Guidelines: Students seek clear guidelines from faculty and UIC on ethical AI use in their coursework. These guidelines should define acceptable uses of AI in academic work, addressing concerns of academic dishonesty.
  2. AI Literacy Programs: There’s a strong desire for educational programs that enhance students’ understanding of AI, including its capabilities, limitations, and ethical use. Students would like education to improve AI literacy among students, ensuring they understand how to use AI tools ethically and effectively.
  3. Open Dialogue: Students wish for open lines of communication with faculty about AI, hoping for discussions that clarify expectations and explore AI’s potential responsibly.
  4. Ethical Use of AI: Students want a culture of integrity where AI supplements traditional learning methods, not a substitute for genuine academic effort. Above all, students want the assurance that their use of AI will not compromise their academic integrity or the value of their education.

The survey highlights a nuanced student perspective on AI’s role in education. UIC students acknowledge its potential while expressing earnest concerns about integrity, the need for literacy, and the desire for guidance. As UIC continues to navigate the integration of AI, understanding and addressing these student perspectives will be crucial for fostering an environment where technology enhances learning without undermining the principles of education.