AI chatbot MBA exam pass poses test for business schools

Elon Musk has long dismissed the MBA as irrelevant or harmful, but now a company backed by the tech entrepreneur is threatening to directly undermine the value of the flagship business title: the artificial intelligence chatbot ChatGPT.

Christian Terwiesch, Wharton professor at the University of Pennsylvania, one of the oldest and most prestigious business schools in the US. Operations management course, an MBA core subject.

In his white paper “Would Chat GPT3 Get an MBA from Wharton?” posted this week, he concluded: “Chat GPT3 would have received a grade of B to B- on the exam. This has important implications for business school education,” citing the need to review examination policies, curriculum design, and teaching.

The chatbot, which has been temporarily overwhelmed by a surge in inquiries in recent weeks, has raised concerns among many academics, including those at business schools, that students are using it to cheat on their essays and exams. .

“I’m one of the alarmists,” said Professor Jerry Davis of the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, who called a faculty meeting Monday to discuss its implications. “Our entire enterprise in education is being challenged by this, and it will only get more challenging. It is time to rethink from top to bottom.”

Francisco Veloso, Dean of Imperial College Business School in London, said: “We are having serious discussions and a working group is looking at the implications of ChatGPT and other similar tools that we know our resourceful and inventive students are using, and we will be formulating policies around that soon.”

While he stressed that the increased use of AI technology was inevitable and even largely desirable, he called for clear classroom disclosure policies about whether students had used ChatGPT and predicted mitigation measures including “going back to handwritten work, as well as more oral and in class”. – or at least synchronous – discussions”.

Microsoft, the software giant co-founded by Bill Gates, who dropped out of Harvard University without even finishing his degree, is currently considering a $10 billion investment in OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT on top of the $1 billion it invested. . in 2019.

Many predict that technology will radically change a broader range of activities beyond education, including Internet searches and the world of work.

Musk himself, the founder of Tesla and one of the original backers of OpenAI, has argued that MBA graduates lack sufficient critical thinking skills and focus too much on boardroom meetings and financial performance at the expense of get closer to the product and walk around the factory. .

Ironically, Terwiesch concluded that while ChatGPT proved incredibly literate and analytical when composing answers to questions he gave him about operations management and process analysis, his numerical skills were far more limited. He didn’t test it with the full MBA curriculum, which includes marketing, finance, accounting and other subjects.

“I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the writing: concise, choice of words, structure. It was absolutely brilliant,” he told the FT. “But the math is so horrible. Language and intuition are correct, but even relatively simple high school math got a lot wrong.”

But he stressed that he could quickly improve his answers when given hints, and more broadly, technology offers considerable scope in the future, including in test writing and marking to free up teachers for more valuable student support.

He also suggested a ChatGPT app that could threaten the many business school alumni pursuing careers as consultants producing reports and recommendations.

Current students could hone their judgment against the chatbot’s strong performance by “playing the role of that savvy consultant (who always has a fancy answer, but often gets it wrong),” Terwiesch’s report says.

Kara McWilliams, director of the ETS Product Innovation Labs, which applies AI to learning and assessment and has developed tools to identify AI-driven responses, said: “We really need to embrace advanced technologies in education. Do you remember when the calculator came into play and there was a great fear of using it? I am of the opinion that AI is not going to replace people, but people using AI are going to replace people.”

He argued that ChatGPT could help teachers with lesson planning, syllabus creation, and lecture note development. “They will be able to eliminate a lot of secondary higher education tasks so they can focus on learning. There is a real opportunity to improve personalization.”

Andrew Karolyi, dean of Cornell University’s SC Johnson School of Business, said that while ChatGPT had taken many academics by surprise and that codes of conduct and statements of academic integrity should be updated, “my own hope is that teachers actively mention the topic in their classrooms to engage students in framing AI as a valuable learning tool.”

“One thing we all know for sure is that ChatGPT is not going away,” he said. “If anything, these AI techniques will continue to get better and better. College and university administrators need to invest in educating themselves.”

ChatGPT responded to the FT that it was “unlikely” that he would end the MBA.

“While AI and machine learning can automate certain tasks and make them more efficient, they do not yet have the ability to fully replicate the complex decision-making and critical thinking skills that are developed through MBA programs,” he said. “In addition, MBA programs provide networking opportunities and access to industry professionals that technology cannot replicate.”

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