ChatGPT Writes a Dissertation


I thought I’d try ChatGPT to see what it would do with my dissertation topic.1 I gave it the prompt:

Explain the ways in which “Scholarship of Teaching and Learning” and “Human-Computer Interaction” can be integrated using research methods adapted from the formal analysis of video games.

And it returned:

The scholarship of teaching and learning is an approach to education that focuses on studying and improving teaching and learning processes in order to enhance student learning. This can be done through a variety of research methods, such as classroom observations, student interviews, and surveys. Human-computer interaction, on the other hand, is a field that focuses on the design and evaluation of computer systems and technologies that are easy and effective for people to use.

One way in which these two fields can be integrated is through the use of research methods adapted from the formal analysis of video games. Formal analysis is a method used in the study of video games that involves the systematic and rigorous examination of the game’s design, mechanics, and player experience. This type of analysis can provide insights into how the game’s design and mechanics affect the player’s experience, which can be useful for improving teaching and learning processes.

For example, the formal analysis of video games can be used to study how different game mechanics and design elements affect player motivation and engagement. This can help identify best practices for designing educational games and other interactive learning tools that effectively engage students and promote learning. Additionally, the formal analysis of video games can be used to study how players learn and adapt to new challenges and mechanics in the game, which can provide insights into how students learn and adapt to new material in the classroom.

Overall, the integration of the scholarship of teaching and learning with human-computer interaction using research methods adapted from the formal analysis of video games can lead to the development of more effective and engaging educational technologies and teaching practices.

Which. I mean. It’s kind of talking in recursive circles a bit, but yeah. That’s not a horrible description of how SoTL and HCI can be integrated.

What does this mean for academic writing? I don’t know. This response would take a lot of work to further develop into an actual article, never mind a dissertation. But - as a writing partner? This could be really useful. Throw in an idea for a topic and let software extrapolate and produce a starting point to see if it’s got wings? Maybe.

Although GPT-3 isn’t new, having it wrapped in a super simple and conversational interface is kind of a game-changer. I think this is likely the start of a major shift toward software tools to assist people in research and writing. Will it advance to something that could write a useful article? Maybe, but that seems to oversimplify what a researcher does in a study - it’s not an exercise in text generation. But a tool that streamlines that stage at the end? Could be useful…

In the case of this example, ChatGPT didn’t make the conceptual leap to “modern teaching and learning has become so similar to video games in design and experience that we could probably adapt the research methods we use to evaluate video games to inform our understanding of teaching and learning” - but it might help to explain some parts.


  1. I didn’t use any tools to generate text for my actual dissertation, but did use Stable Diffusion to generate one image for illustrative purposes. ↩︎


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Last updated: June 07, 2023