Alohilani Okamura

Assistant Professor ʻAlohilani Okamura in the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa (UHM) College of Eduacation (COE) School of Teacher Education Secondary program, has been awarded $54,000 by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) in support of research that examines the role of technology in shaping current social and cultural issues.

NEH will fund Okamuraʻs project, “Constructing the ‘I’ in Artificial Intelligence: Perceptions of Teaching with ChatGPT in Relation to Cultural Identity,” as part of a two-year, $144,151 Dangers and Opportunities of Technology: Perspectives from the Humanities grant in partnership with California State University Dominguez Hills (CSUDH).

“The goal of the project is to understand the implications and interactions of generative artificial intelligence (AI) on preservice teachers’ identities and practices within the two culturally and linguistically diverse contexts of Hawai‘i and Los Angeles,” Okamura said. “Preservice or beginning teachers will be recruited to engage with Chat GPT through an interactive module.”

The participants’ responses to module prompts and interview questions will be analyzed to examine how they make meaning of teaching with Chat GPT. Building upon the methods and outcomes of Okamuraʻs doctoral dissertation as well as her Native Hawaiian cultural knowledge and linguistic expertise, this project has the potential to inform education communities of more culturally sustaining, equitable, and just ways to leverage ChatGPT in classrooms.

A report by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Educational Technology asks the question, “To what extent are teachers able to exercise voice and decision-making to improve equity, reduce bias, and increase cultural responsiveness in the use of AI-enabled tools and systems?”

“As a response, our project centers underrepresented beginning teachers’ voices to understand these rising discriminatory concerns about AI,” Okamura said. “Representing diverse, intersectional backgrounds, teacher candidates at the COE and CSUDH will offer alternative narratives to teaching with ChatGPT from a cultural, context-specific lens.”

The project has implications for teacher educators, administrators, teachers, and school communities. Funding will support the team to conduct research, present at conferences, publish peer-reviewed journal articles, present conclusions to local school districts, and provide NEH with a white paper.

NEH graphicThe “Constructing the ʻIʻ in Artificial Intelligence: Perceptions of Teaching with ChatGPT in Relation to Cultural Identity” team consists of Coordinator of Grant Management and Communications at Hawthorne School District Cristina Stephany (CSUDH), Assistant Professor of Liberal Studies and Director of Snap Inc. Institute for Technology & Education Mike Karlin (CSUDH), and Assistant Professor of Secondary Education ‘Alohilani Okamura (UHM COE).

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