The Challenges of Artificial Intelligence in HASSE

Many of us were initially sceptical of the threat posed by Artificial Intelligence, but the capabilities are developing rapidly and AI now poses one of the greatest threats to the integrity of higher education learning and assessment in modern times.

Our T&L AI Working Group (consisting of staff from HASSE plus stakeholders from elsewhere across UNE, including some experts in AI) is working to develop staff and student guidelines to address these threats and challenges. In the interim, I’d encourage staff to reflect on ways they can address these challenges within their units. It’s a fertile ground for ideas, and many colleagues have already taken a proactive approach and have been modifying their unit content and assessments with some positive early outcomes.

As I’ve previously reported, we might consider shifting away from written tasks towards oral and visual assessments, and a more interactive/interrogative style of assessment [eg. a scaffolded style of back-and-forth dialogue between examiners and students]. Joshua Matthews has suggested that assessments might include an ‘Artificial Intelligence Use Rational’ (AI-UR) which outlines the degree to which AI can or cannot be used in the completion of an assessment task. We’re also looking to include a response to the ‘Challenges of AI’ within the regular unit review schedule.

Growth and Retention Strategies

Two key priorities in the Faculty are student growth and student retention [both at unit and course level]. In addition to the course developments in progress, I’m always open to exploring new ideas, and I’d encourage staff to approach me to discuss any suggestions they have for new offerings. At the same time, it’s important we do more to retain the students we have.

Of particular interest, we’ve recently received some data from the Student Services team highlighting the reasons why students withdraw from a unit. It’s encouraging to note that only 2% of withdrawals are due to ‘dissatisfaction with the unit’. In contrast, 69% of withdrawals are due to external time constraints, such as changing work and family/life circumstances. While much of this lies beyond our control, it raises the question of whether we can do anything further to enhance support for that cohort of time constrained students. For example, can we enhance the flexibility of learning activities [particularly around the timing of when activities need to be completed], support flexible submissions dates, or offer any other support in an effort to retain those students?

At the same time, the Student Services team have developed six retention campaigns to run in T3. They’re particularly concerned about barriers to course progression [eg. required units not being offered, or prerequisites limiting their progress], and the risks of losing students when they take leaves of absence. To support retention at course level, we might all reflect on what we can do to support student progress through their studies.

Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program

HASSE has a strong history of success in securing funding for projects via the Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program. This is a program designed to support regional and remote students, First Nations students, and students from low-SES backgrounds. The DVC sent out a Call for Applications [including the application form and instructions] on 15 August. If you’d like more information or assistance in how to develop an application, please reach out to me for assistance. Applications close COB on 20 September.