Can ChatGPT Help Pre-Service Teachers Analyze Classroom Discourse? Critical Reflections from a Science Methods Course

by Jacob Pleasants, University of Oklahoma

Leading productive classroom conversations is an essential part of a science teacher's pedagogical practice, but also difficult to do well. Novice science teachers find it challenging to direct conversations that progress students’ conceptual understanding while engaging them in scientific practices. They need to engage in deliberate, reflective practice to improve their discourse practices and sustain that deliberate work as they continue to develop their pedagogy. In my secondary science methods course, I work to build my students’ reflective practice by having them analyze transcripts of science instruction. I have used several scaffolding tools and frameworks to support them in that work, but a novel option is using a language model such as ChatGPT to assist with the analysis. In this article, I describe how I incorporated ChatGPT into a sequence of discourse-focused learning activities. My students explored and critiqued the capabilities of ChatGPT as a discourse analyst, and here I share our collective appraisals and insights into how to use it most effectively. I also share the ways in which I saw my students’ reflective and analytical practices develop over time.

Promises and Pitfalls: Using an AI Chatbot as a Tool in 5E Lesson Planning

by Jeff Goodman, Appalachian State University; Vicente Handa, Appalachian State University; Rachel E. Wilson, Appalachian State University; & Leslie U. Bradbury, Appalachian State University

The authors describe how we approached using an AI chatbot, ChatGPT, during the spring 2023 semester with preservice elementary education students as an exercise in thinking about planning 5E lessons. We report here how we explored the tool with four different sections of preservice teachers and what we found about using this particular AI chatbot to help them develop planning skills for inquiry-based science instruction. Specifically, we found that when using a single prompt, the tool was not reliably accurate or realistic in planning for real classrooms or creating quality 5E lessons. However, when we employed techniques to focus and refine our prompts, we found value in using the chatbot as a part of brainstorming, and we determined that ChatGPT was particularly useful for generating high-quality, open-ended questions. Our overall conclusion from the experience is the importance of scaffolding students to use AI chatbots in an iterative process, focusing on creating high-quality prompts and successive questioning to get useful output information. Opportunities and cautions for using such tools in education are reviewed.