Photo/Illutration ChatGPT is seen on the tablet screen (Masayuki Shiraishi)

More than 30 percent of university students in Japan used ChatGPT, according to a survey that also found many students were well aware of the potential risks of the chatbot.

“Many students were surprisingly honest about the way they use the chatbot and how they’re trying to make the most of it,” said Jun Saito, associate professor at the Obihiro University of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine, who participated in the research.

Of 4,000 undergraduate students surveyed, 32.4 percent said they have used ChatGPT, with 14 percent saying they have used it for their assignments.

Of those who used it for assignments, 91.8 percent said they checked and corrected answers the chatbot had given, and 85.3 percent edited the generated text and added sentences to express their own ideas.

The survey results “will help highlight weak points in Japan’s higher education, such as there being less focus on developing writing skills,” said Fujio Omori, a professor who specializes in higher education at Tohoku University.

A team led by Omori conducted the study online over 10 days until June 2.

The government and universities need to know how students use ChatGPT and their views on it before discussing how to take advantage of it, the team members said.

Many people have voiced concerns that ChatGPT and similar artificial intelligence programs could undermine students’ creativity and their ability to think critically, but a lot of students seemed to think otherwise.

Of those who used ChatGPT for assignments, 77.5 percent said it helped them improve their writing and 70.7 percent said it improved their thinking.

However, not all students were positive about using the chatbot for their academic work.

Of those who have used ChatGPT, 56.8 percent have never used it for their assignments. Asked why, 28.4 percent of the respondents said that they consider it to be cheating.

Another 24.7 percent said they don’t use it for assignments because the chatbot can give incorrect answers.

Such responses seem to reflect the guidance and instructions that faculties have given to warn students about relying entirely on AI.

The study found students holding a variety of views on ChatGPT. Some said it should be prohibited on campus to ensure fairness in student assessments while others opposed a blanket ban.