Embrace Opportunities and Face Challenges: Using ChatGPT in Undergraduate Students' Collaborative Interdisciplinary Learning

by   Gaoxia Zhu, et al.

ChatGPT, launched in November 2022, has gained widespread attention from students and educators globally, with an online report by Hu (2023) stating it as the fastest-growing consumer application in history. While discussions on the use of ChatGPT in higher education are abundant, empirical studies on its impact on collaborative interdisciplinary learning are rare. To investigate its potential, we conducted a quasi-experimental study with 130 undergraduate students (STEM and non-STEM) learning digital literacy with or without ChatGPT over two weeks. Weekly surveys were conducted on collaborative interdisciplinary problem-solving, physical and cognitive engagement, and individual reflections on ChatGPT use. Analysis of survey responses showed significant main effects of topics on collaborative interdisciplinary problem-solving and physical and cognitive engagement, a marginal interaction effect between disciplinary backgrounds and ChatGPT conditions for cognitive engagement, and a significant interaction effect for physical engagement. Sentiment analysis of student reflections suggested no significant difference between STEM and non-STEM students' opinions towards ChatGPT. Qualitative analysis of reflections generated eight positive themes, including efficiency, addressing knowledge gaps, and generating human-like responses, and eight negative themes, including generic responses, lack of innovation, and counterproductive to self-discipline and thinking. Our findings suggest that ChatGPT use needs to be optimized by considering the topics being taught and the disciplinary backgrounds of students rather than applying it uniformly. These findings have implications for both pedagogical research and practices.


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