School AI survey to inform lessons of the future

High school students in Scotland are to be surveyed on how they use artificial intelligence (AI) in their schoolwork, giving the first national picture on how this growing technology affects their day-to-day learning.

A female school teacher in a computer lab speaking to three teenage girls sitting in front of a laptop.

The study, led by researchers from the University of Edinburgh, is part of a project looking at the current use of, and attitudes to, AI among secondary school students and their teachers. The students will be asked specifically about generative AI, a type of artificial intelligence that is designed to create new content, such as essays, letters or artwork.

By understanding the current landscape of AI use by high school students in Scotland, teachers can better support their students to use AI responsibly for learning, experts say.  

AI tools

The survey will have questions on the types of AI tools that pupils might have used, such as Grammarly and ChatGPT, and whether they have used them to help with their homework.

Students will also be asked about their knowledge of the accuracy of information produced by AI tools, particularly around so-called hallucinations – when generative AI offers inaccurate facts or statistics. The researchers are also keen to understand the policies and learning support that schools have in place for students when using AI, and whether teachers and students are familiar with these. 

Teachers are aware that some of their students are using generative AI tools at home, but we don’t know currently which tools are used by which stages of learners, or for what kinds of learning.

Professor Judy RobertsonStudy co-lead and Chair in Digital Learning, University of Edinburgh

Parents and teachers are being asked to encourage their children and pupils to be part of the new survey. All young people will need to provide consent before taking part, anyone aged under 16 will need parental consent before completing the survey.

This study has been funded through University of Edinburgh’s Generative AI Laboratory. The Generative AI Laboratory harnesses the University’s world-leading research and innovation in artificial intelligence to develop safe solutions for both industry and government to benefit society.  

The current generation of high school students will be one of the first to enter the workforce where AI will take such a prominent role. It is important for us to understand how young people are using it and questions that they might have, to ensure that the education they receive makes them feel prepared to face this future.

Dr Fiona McNeillStudy co-lead and Reader in Computer Science Education, University of Edinburgh

There’s a concern that the digital divide might be growing wider – young people who can’t access AI tools at home may miss out on learning skills which will be expected in the workplace. This is why teaching critical AI literacy in schools is so important. Understanding how learners use AI tools already is a first step to developing a framework for AI literacy – we need to meet learners half way and understand how it features in their digital lives.

Professor Judy Robertson

The survey will be available for completion up to 30 June. Parents and teachers that are interested in participating the survey with their class can find out more by contacting the study team  

Related links

Complete the Generative AI in Schools survey

Find out more about University of Edinburgh's Generative AI Laboratory



[Image credit: Maskot via Getty Images]