A new study examines potential effects of artificial intelligence on current challenges faced in higher education and notes that few are ready.
The 2023-2024 Digital Learning Pulse Survey revealed that three-quarters of higher education trustees, faculty, and administrators believe GenAI will noticeably change their institutions — and help solve ongoing issues. But only 16% of faculty and 11% of administrators feel prepared for change.
The survey was conducted by Cengage Group and Bay View Analytics to better understand attitudes and concerns of higher education instructors and leadership. For example, it found that stress, rising costs, and lack of academic support are higher education’s top concerns.
GenAI could be the remedy to ongoing challenges from teacher shortages and crowded classrooms to democratizing access to higher education through lower-cost options, according to the survey.
“While GenAI holds exciting potential, this survey signals that higher education has more work to do before it can fully realize its benefits," said Kimberly Russell, vice president of research for Cengage. “Institutions and educational technology providers need to evaluate how to integrate GenAI equitably in a manner that can enrich human instruction and enable more personalized, captivating learning experiences that expand access and success for all students.”
The survey suggests that GenAI could help solve some ongoing challenges in higher education.
The survey finds that “rising costs weigh heavily” across the board. More than a third of each respondent group — 41% of administrators, 46% of faculty, 35% of trustees, and 33% of students — strongly agree that the price of a two- or four-year program is nearly out of reach. Survey data also reveal that 30% of students were unaware of support services available to them through their school with only 22% reporting having used such services.
Notwithstanding, “courses largely make the grade” among students. Most at both two- and four-year institutions give their courses a grade of A, at 48%, or B, at 39%. Overall, the number of students giving their courses A grades has trended upward, increasing 20% since 2020. Students at two-year institutions who graded their courses highly trended downward during that same time, dropping about 10%.
“The delta between the expected impact of GenAI in higher education and the current ability of these organizations to adapt to this new technology is significant,” said Dr. Jeff Seaman, lead researcher and director of Bay View Analytics. “With so few respondents feeling prepared to adopt artificial intelligence, institutions will need to invest substantial time, effort and resources if they are to remain competitive as this technology becomes mainstream.”