AI Summarization and its Benefits to STEM Teaching Methods
Many STEM teachers face a particularly challenging pedagogical task: distilling large amounts of complex information into a digestible format. While the course textbook serves as an excellent source of information and practice problems, students often prefer condensed study guides, note packets, or cheat sheets. However, creating such materials requires substantial effort and time. Teachers may prefer utilizing this time for in-class presentations – which, unlike summarization, is a task that requires more human tailoring and input.
With Chat GPT, teachers can expedite the creation of study guides and other “one page” note sheets for their students. This article will provide examples of how AI can accomplish this task, and offer suggestions for teachers interested in exploring this topic further.
Understanding General Topics with Summary Sheets
Even without a textbook as a reference, ChatGPT can create one-page summary sheets for a specific STEM topic. Consider a simple prompt I generated on lowtech.ai. All the prompt requires is an academic topic. Then, the AI generates a summary sheet consisting of essential definitions, main ideas, and basic examples. An educator can then utilize this cheat sheet directly, or change the prompt slightly to cater to their needs. For example, the educator can ask the AI to order the example questions in increasing difficulty, or reorder and replace certain sections.
This prompt is especially useful because the academic topic can be as broad or narrow as the instructor desires. This allows for summary sheets to be created multiple times during a school year, covering the topics for a unit test, midterm, or final. Teachers may also use this prompt as a potential exercise for their students: for homework, each student could develop their own summary sheets using AI and then share sheets with other classmates.
AI-generated summary sheets also have the potential to contain interactive exercises, an essential component of STEM learning. If a student taking linear algebra is unfamiliar with matrix multiplication, for example, and notices its presence on the summary sheet, it can ask the AI to expand on the topic with more example exercises. Furthermore, new teachers can use a topic’s summary sheet as a template lesson plan for a “review” class or lecture.
Distilling Complex Topics into a One-Paragraph Summary
In STEM classes, certain topics can be especially challenging for teachers to efficiently convey in a classroom setting. Oftentimes, some complex or conceptual challenges require more student time and effort than a teacher anticipates. To help overcome this obstacle, teachers can ask ChatGPT to summarize a particular concept in one paragraph. The teacher can then share this summary with their students, or use the paragraph in their lesson plans. For example, consider the output when ChatGPT is asked to explain Lagrange multipliers – typically a challenging multivariable calculus topic – to students:
Input: Summarize lagrange multipliers in one paragraph.
Output: Lagrange multipliers are a mathematical technique used to find the optimal values of a function subject to one or more constraints. It introduces a new variable, called the Lagrange multiplier, to incorporate the constraints into the optimization problem. The method involves constructing a Lagrangian function by adding the product of the Lagrange multiplier and each constraint equation to the objective function. By taking the partial derivatives of the Lagrangian function with respect to the variables and the Lagrange multiplier, and setting them equal to zero, we can find critical points that satisfy both the objective function and the constraints. The Lagrange multiplier provides information about the sensitivity of the objective function to the constraints and helps identify the optimal solution that satisfies all the given conditions.
Such a summary can be presented before class as a preview to the topics about to be discussed. On the other hand, teachers can present this summary as an exercise ensuring students can recognize and apply the topics discussed in class. Changing the prompt slights accomplishes this task:
Input: Generate five questions that summarize the topic of lagrange multipliers.
- What is the purpose of Lagrange multipliers in optimization problems with constraints?
- How does the Lagrange multiplier method incorporate constraints into the optimization process?
- What is the role of the Lagrangian function in Lagrange multiplier optimization?
- How are critical points determined using Lagrange multipliers?
- How does the Lagrange multiplier provide insights into the sensitivity of the objective function to the constraints?
While these questions are more theoretical, they can help students understand the fundamental process behind the mathematical concepts. These questions need not be prepared: If a professor generates and answers these questions impromptu during a lecture, they promote a more lively and interactive classroom environment.
Summarizing Academic Articles from Scholarly Journals
By utilizing Chat GPT's summarizing capabilities, teachers can access concise summaries of lengthy research articles, benefiting both their own professional development and their ability to deliver comprehensive STEM education to their students.
Chat GPT can assist STEM teachers in staying updated with the latest research and advancements in their respective fields. It can quickly process scholarly articles and generate summaries that highlight the key findings, methodologies, and implications of the research. By using Chat GPT to summarize multiple articles, teachers can efficiently review a broader range of literature, saving time while gaining a comprehensive understanding of the current state of knowledge in their subject area.
Chat GPT's summarization feature can also aid in curriculum planning and lesson preparation. Teachers can input scholarly articles relevant to their upcoming lessons, and Chat GPT can generate condensed summaries that capture the core concepts, theories, and experimental results. This allows teachers to distill the most important information from research articles and incorporate it into their instructional materials, ensuring that they deliver accurate and up-to-date content to their students.
After summarizing scholarly articles, teachers can also ask Chat GPT to generate thought-provoking questions, critical thinking exercises, or debate topics that stem from the research findings. This facilitates engaging and meaningful classroom discussions, enabling students to explore the implications and applications of scientific research within a broader context.
For undergraduate students interested in academic research, Chat GPT allows for more advanced material to be presented in a more digestible manner. Professors can introduce students to relevant scholarly articles and provide them with Chat GPT-generated summaries as starting points. These summaries can help students grasp the main points of the research, evaluate the quality and relevance of the article, and guide them in selecting appropriate sources for their own research projects.
Furthermore, Chat GPT's summarization can aid in the development of students' reading comprehension skills. By providing students with summaries of scholarly articles, teachers can help them identify key concepts, main arguments, and supporting evidence. Students can then compare the summaries with the original articles, analyze the differences, and gain insights into the process of summarization, enhancing their ability to extract and summarize information independently.