Using ChatGPT in an educational technology course for maths teacher candidates

Using ChatGPT in an educational technology course for maths teacher candidates

There has been a lot of discussion in educational research circles about the use of AI in education, in particular, ChatGPT. We asked doctoral research assistant, Bengi Birgili to tell us about how she is using (and teaching the use of) ChatGPT in the classroom. Dr Birgili introduced a fully flipped university context from the view of a researcher instructor. In this post, she explains how she and her students used ChatGPT in an instructional technology course offered in the Spring 2023 semester. This blog post includes not only her ideas and experiences but also those of 30 pre-service teachers studying in the mathematics education department in the faculty of education in Istanbul, Türkiye.

I have been teaching an educational sciences course at the intersection of Instructional Design and Instructional Technologies and Materials Design (EDS 206) at the Department of Mathematics Education (Grade 5-8), MEF University, Istanbul, Türkiye for 2 years. MEF University is known as the first fully flipped university in the world. You can find out more about the course at the end of this blog post.

This semester, additionally, we had a new visitor to this course. ChatGPT! Yes. Let’s share our experiences in this course.


Using ChatGPT in an educational technology course

I heard that ChatGPT, developed by Artificial Intelligence Developer Open AI, was released as a prototype on November 30th, 2022. I noticed that it attracted people’s attention in a short period of time with its detailed justifications and understandable answers in many fields of information. Many instructional technologists, educational scientists, and even linguists from Türkiye have started using it. It has become popular in our country as well as all over the world.

As a Ph.D. holder of educational sciences and a mathematics teacher; based on my limited experience, I can describe ChatGPT as a companion. Although the database has kept its information until the last updated date, it provides us with companionship in terms of sharing basic,  responding fact-based prompts, and comprehensive information. Users must, of course, be aware of the issues that have been raised about the accuracy of the AI too (or see the impact of AI for more information).

Despite this caveat, when I look at it from the perspective of an educator, I believe that teacher candidates can benefit from ChatGPT, when used for the right purposes.

In the EDS 206 course, I demonstrated ChatGPT for a week. Then, I allowed the teacher candidates to experience it for themselves. Some of them asked ChatGPT to talk about common misconceptions made by middle school students in fractions in mathematics, and some of them asked for sample questions of their lesson plan preparation. While discovering ChatGPT, they also learned new instructional design models. They put into practice what they learned in our course while interacting with it. For the accuracy of the information, they had to compare what they learned in the course with the information provided by ChatGPT. At this level, they also started to use their high-level cognitive skills. In their article writing assignments, they were free to use ChatGPT, as long as they referenced appropriately.

To sum up, by following the correct instructions, we teacher educators, can admit ChatGPT as a mentor somewhere in a teacher education program. Nevertheless, it should be used as a means, not an end.

Students’ experiences using ChatGPT

After the ChatGPT experience, I asked my students: “Can you share with me in a paragraph your first experience with ChatGPT in the EDS 206 course, and explain whether it is useful and how your learning experiences in the faculty can get benefit from it?” I made a thematic analysis of their general ideas and initial thoughts. According to the findings of the thematic analysis, I inferenced the following categories.

  1. Junior-year teacher candidates, studying in the faculty of education and a flipped university, were introduced to ChatGPT for the first time in this course. They were aware that ChatGPT is an up-to-date, innovative, and popular AI-based tool and they gained the specific awareness.

“I think #ChatGPT is a nice artificial intelligence application for people who are researchers and curious. As a teacher candidate, I was introduced to ChatGPT for the first time in EDS206 class and I saw the benefits of the application. During the lesson, my group mates and I experienced that ChatGPT can translate between languages, solve mathematical equations, and offer various suggestions on the subject….”

“I was introduced to the ChatGPT application in the EDS 206 course. In the lesson, we sought an answer to the question of how to use the ChatGPT application in education. We asked the ChatGPT application to develop a training model.”

  1. All of them found ChatGPT useful for their learning. They see it as a privileged step of being an innovative teacher. When they asked questions regarding maths education, lesson planning, teaching methods etc, ChatGPT provided them with creative and useful examples. For instance:

“…We got surprising results. We discussed these results in class. I think the answers will be useful and effective. I think the most useful feature of the ChatGPT application is that it gives creative and useful examples for desired situations….”

“…While we were experiencing ChatGPT, when we asked “What is the most appropriate teaching model that can be applied on the subject of fractions in mathematics?”, it brought out various models. Although the question we asked was very specific, it brought out more than one model and, most importantly, it explained the focus points of these models with them….”

“…. I wanted to develop a material on “Factors and Multiples” within the scope of the EDS206 course. I wanted to add examples from daily life to my material. I asked ChatGPT to provide me with examples, and source books/sites on this subject. I was redirected to many pages. When we want to make a study by analyzing many sources in education and synthesizing these sources; I can say that ChatGPT is very useful to work step by step.…” (Female, senior year teacher candidate)


  1. Almost all of the teacher candidates emphasized that ChatGPT encouraged them to use higher-order thinking skills. For example, they stated that they used cognitive skills such as analysis, synthesis, interpretation, and discussion together in the flipped class.

“….When we want to make a study by analyzing many sources in education and synthesizing these sources, I can say that ChatGPT is very useful to work step by step. On the other hand, I can say that it provides ease of learning and analyzing many pieces of literature for students. I can say that individuals who will produce a new study will have the chance to design a roadmap for basic errors, to access the materials to be used here, and to design a synthesized version of many sources if they wish. For this reason, I can say that it also provides a lot of convenience in the production of new works.”

“…. When we further advanced our question and asked it to choose one of these models and create a lesson plan that suited us, its answer really impressed me. Determining the necessary materials, which sections we will divide the lesson into, how many minutes these sections will take, and what we will do in them were explained in detail…

  1. On the other hand, only a few of them asserted the possible negative aspects of ChatGPT. Since it depends on machine learning and Artificial Intelligence, the accuracy and validity of the information given by ChatGPT must be tested and controlled from other scientific sources.

“…. Thanks to the information data in ChatGPT, it is a very useful application that allows us to save time by extracting logical answers in the context of cause and effect. If I take a negative aspect, it should not be forgotten that this is an artificial intelligence, if important information research is being conducted, ChatGPT’s responses should definitely be verified with other sources.” (Female, senior year teacher candidate)

Final thoughts

Last but not least, according to my short-term and unique experience regarding ChatGPT, I feel that the contribution of ChatGPT to teacher education is emerging. However, ethical issues should always keep the minds occupied. While discussing the benefits, the critical points and probable negative aspects should be paid attention by the instructors and teacher candidates. We think that ChatGPT will continue to be like a companion that provides motivation during individual learning or unguided instruction, and saves time  – as long as it comes from the primary right academic source.

Key Messages

  • Teacher candidates can benefit from ChatGPT, when used for the right purposes
  • Teaching students reported that they found ChatGPT useful for learning, and saw it as evidence of being an innovative teacher
  • ChatGPT encouraged teacher candidates to use higher order thinking skills such as analysis, synthesis, interpretation, and discussion
  • Students should be aware of the limitations of tools such as AI and the importance of verifying the information provided with other sources
  • The use of AI tools in teacher education is still emerging, and critical points should be considered by instructors and teacher candidates

References and Further Reading

About the educational science course

The educational sciences course sits at the intersection of Instructional Design and Instructional Technologies and Materials Design (EDS 206) at the Department of Mathematics Education (Grade 5-8), MEF University, Istanbul, Türkiye.

Upon successful completion of this course, students [aka teacher candidates]  are expected to be able to:

  1. explore various ways of thinking about the use of technology in education
  2. demonstrate how to use a variety of multimedia tools to enrich learning opportunities
  3.  identify appropriate teaching methods and electronic media to support objective-based lessons
  4. design learning experiences that engage learners in individual and collaborative learning activities
  5. create electronic multimedia to support specific learning objectives
  6. use technology to represent topics or concepts in a static or interactive format.

I have been offering the course with an active learning environment both in COVID-19 pandemic times and now in a hybrid format. Teacher candidates apply what they have learned about weekly instructional technological tools, participate in pre-class/individual space and in-class/group space experiences, share their experiences and thoughts during flipped class activities, sometimes evaluate themselves, collaborate, and reflect while learning instructional design theories and practicum with material design.

 At the beginning of the semester, the teacher candidates are assigned middle school mathematics content from the national mathematics education curriculum. They learn to design digital materials in order to improve their digital competencies. For example,, Kahoot, Desmos, Geogebra. They prepare teaching materials for 6th grade students using the digital tools they learn about in the EDS206 related to the mathematics topic they were assigned. However, they design not only independent teaching and learning materials, but also instructional design models and so learn to integrate their digital materials into their ID models.

For more information about EDS 206 please do not hesitate to contact me.

On AI and accuracy 

The field of Artificial Intelligence is changing rapidly, and it can be difficult to keep up with the current situation. Here are some articles that we found when this blog post was published.

ChatGPT: Everything you need to know about OpenAI’s GPT-4 tool

ChatGPT and facts (January 2023)

The impact of AI on content accuracy (October 2023)

ChatGPT accuracy getting worse (June 2023) 


Dr Bengi Birgili

Dr Bengi Birgili

Research Assistant in the Mathematics Education Department at MEF University, Istanbul.

Dr Bengi Birgili is a research assistant in the Mathematics Education Department at MEF University, Istanbul. She experienced in research at the University of Vienna. In 2022, she received her PhD from the Department of Educational Sciences Curriculum and Instruction Program at Middle East Technical University (METU), Ankara. Her research interests focus on curriculum development and evaluation, instructional design, in-class assessment. She received the Emerging Researchers Bursary Winners award at ECER 2017 for her paper titled “A Metacognitive Perspective to Open-Ended Questions vs. Multiple-Choice.”

In 2020, a co-authored research became one of the 4 accepted studies among Early-Career Scholars awarded by the International Testing Commission (ITC) Young Scholar Committee in the UK [Postponed to 2021 Colloquium due to COVID-19].

In Jan 2020, she completed the Elements of AI certification offered by the University of Helsinki.


Twitter: @bengibirgili




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Reimagining Teacher Education Pedagogies and Policies in the Context of Mass Global Migration

Reimagining Teacher Education Pedagogies and Policies in the Context of Mass Global Migration

Diversity across the world is hardly new, but its nature is changing given the growing number of refugee and migrant children, placing increasing stress on schools to meet their learning needs [1] These increases in transnational mobility have teachers struggling to reconsider their everyday practices to accommodate many more newcomers in their classrooms, even while immigrant and refugee students lag behind their nonimmigrant peers academically. [2] [3] [4]

In 2019, the number of international migrants reached 272 million; 33 million of them were children. Among the world’s migrants are nearly 29 million refugees and asylum seekers who have been forcibly displaced from their own countries. An additional 41 million people in 2018 were internally displaced due to conflict and violence, an estimated 17 million of whom were children. [5]

The need for teachers to become more responsive to changing social conditions and student populations is gaining urgency [6][7][3][8] as recent reports [9] emphasize the support of children from low socio-economic, migrant, or “disadvantaged” minority backgrounds. This highlights teacher supply and preparation as an urgent issue affecting immigrant and refugee education globally. [10]

Reimagining Teacher Education Pedagogies and Policies Across Turkey, United States, and Hong Kong

Our purpose in this study was to gain insight into quality teachers for immigrant students. Using social justice as a lens, we focused on teacher educators, whose research and experience center on preparing teachers to teach immigrant students and considered their perspectives on teaching immigrant students for educational equity. To this end, in a multiple case study, we examined teacher educators in Turkey, the United States (US), and Hong Kong (HK), as each context presents a distinct case of immigration.

In Turkey, immigrants have recently consisted largely of refugees displaced by war. The US has, historically, long received immigrants, motivated by push factors such as political conflicts, as well as pull factors such as economic opportunities. HK’s colonial past and subsequent re-integration with greater China has meant minimal “traditional” immigration, but rather ethnic minorities who are non-Chinese residents, imported workers, and migrants from mainland China.

We acknowledge the essentializing nature of these characterizations of immigrant, which simplifies the complexity of the phenomenon as it unfolds in each context. Our intention was not to mask the multilayeredness of immigration generally, or in each of these contexts, but to illuminate the varied ways in which the concept of immigrant manifests internationally, and to forward our cases as three specific examples.

Theoretical Framework

We conceptualized the perspectives of teacher educators for teachers of immigrant students using theoretical frameworks articulated by two scholars of social justice teaching and teacher education. First, we used bell hooks’ notion of teaching to transgress [11] to illuminate teacher practice and preparation that can “enables transgressions” needed to dismantle entrenched educational hegemonies experienced by immigrant youth and “[make] education the practice of freedom” [11]. Second, we used Cochran-Smith’s theory of teacher education for social justice which “is intended to challenge the educational status quo and be transformative” [12] by interrogating the central issues of teacher education: teachers, curriculum, teaching contexts, and outcomes. Our study offers insight into what seems to be emphasized (or absent) in pre- and in-service teacher education to support immigrant learners, both within the confines of each unique context and also through collaborative global dialogue across three cultural boundaries.

Teacher Educators’ Perspectives on Preparing Teachers to Teach Immigrant Students

Through our study, we aimed to gain insight into educating immigrant students and what seems to be emphasized (or absent) in pre- and in-service teacher development and practice to support immigrant learners in these three contexts, based on the perspectives of teacher educators who do the work of preparing teachers to teach immigrant students. In doing so, we asked the following question: “Using social justice as a lens, what insights do teacher educators in Turkey, the US, and HK, offer on preparing teachers to teach immigrant students?”

We framed each context as an individual case and examined the perspectives of practicing teacher educators from the US, Turkey, and HK, given the unique insights professionals from each context can offer for teacher preparation/development for educating immigrant students. Our study included 22 teacher educators from Turkey, the US, and Hong Kong, whose research interests and experiences center on preparing teachers to teach immigrant students.

We present the findings from our preliminary analysis of our interview data under three themes of teacher educators’ identity, their work, and implications for teacher education, policy, and research. 


Teacher Educators and Who They Are

Our analysis revealed that the topic of educating immigrant children was personal to many teacher educators whom we interviewed. They either had a first-hand experience of being an immigrant child or had generational family histories of immigration. Other teacher educators also mentioned that in addition to their personal histories, their professional and educational histories mattered when engaging persistently in topics of research and teaching related to educating immigrant children.


Teacher Educators and The Work That They Do

The teacher educators intentionally integrated their research on issues around immigrants and immigration and the elements of social justice with their teaching. For example, they discussed including specific pedagogies on how to teach immigrant students in their teacher education courses and bringing their research into teaching to provide evidence from the field. In addition, many teacher educators elaborated on building partnerships and collaboration as key to teaching immigrant students. Some were involved in family-community partnerships and others were in collaboration with colleagues who have direct immigrant backgrounds or are close to immigrant communities because they believed that such collaboration and partnerships can offer important perspectives on how to teach and partner with immigrant students and families.


Teacher Educators and the Work That Needs to be Done

The narratives of the teacher educators across the three national contexts pointed toward what further work needs to be done to ensure education that is equitable and socially just for immigrant students around the globe. The first is a radical reform in teacher education programs; second is learning about and navigating policies that are often against immigrants; third is the need for research that is context specific but also cross-cultural and transnational as one way to respond to the mass global migration. 


Within these themes, we also drew upon bell hooks conception as “education as the practice of freedom,” and used bell hooks’ concepts to illustrate teachers’ enactments. An example of our participant, YM, is here. 


Example of a Webinar: Pre-service Teachers in Dr. Akin-Sabuncu’s Life Studies Education class at TED University

The theoretical lenses afforded by hooks and Cochran-Smith enabled us to discern connections between teacher educator identities and work, and teacher preparation for educating immigrant students. Our findings showed: 1) the relationship between identity and commitments to teaching marginalized populations as each respondent articulated a clear connection to immigrant students as key to their work, an insight into “which teachers are recruited” for social justice teaching [12]; and 2) inserting “a counter-narrative account” that “insist[s] that everyone’s presence is acknowledged” [11] by building bridges between immigrant communities and families and teacher preparation curricula, and enabling the capacities of immigrant students contained in everyday, ordinary actions to be instructive to new and experienced teachers and researchers.


Our study illuminates the need for teacher educators to design preparation programs that explicitly address immigrant students, enable novice teachers to make professional connections to immigrant communities through personal, authentic experiences, stretch the curriculum beyond the confines of the university to engage local communities and make full use of the rich resources and partners they represent. Through this study, we present a broader, more global view on teaching and teacher education for (im)migrant students, provide a window into the knowledge and skills teacher educators need to emphasize in their preparation, and offer lessons for and across different national settings.


Their narratives across the three jurisdictions highlighted what further work needs to be done to ensure socially just education for immigrant students around the globe. First is radical reform in teacher education programs; second is learning about and navigating policies that are often hostile to immigrants; third is the need for research that is context-specific but also cross-cultural and transnational as one way to respond to mass global migration. 

We are looking forward to sharing our findings at the annual meetings of the ECER-2022 and WERA-2022!


Other blog posts on similar topics:

Dr Sibel Akin-Sabuncu

Dr Sibel Akin-Sabuncu

Assistant Professor of curriculum and instruction at the Faculty of Education at TED University.

Sibel Akin-Sabuncu, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of curriculum and instruction at the Faculty of Education at TED University. She obtained her Ph.D. degree in the Curriculum and Instruction Program at Middle East Technical University. Dr. Akin-Sabuncu was a visiting scholar at Teachers College, Columbia University during her doctoral studies, and is also currently a postdoctoral researcher and a visiting assistant professor at Teachers College, Columbia University. Her research focuses on preservice and in-service teacher education; elementary teacher education; teacher/teacher educator beliefs; teaching and teacher education for social justice/immigrant and refugee students/disadvantaged students; educational equity; critical pedagogy; and culturally responsive pedagogy.


Instagram @sibel_akin_sabuncu

Dr Crystal Chen Lee

Dr Crystal Chen Lee

Assistant professor of English language arts and literacy at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC

Crystal Chen Lee, Ed.D., is an assistant professor of English language arts and literacy at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC. Her research lies at the nexus of literacy, teacher education, community engagement, and marginalized populations. She received her Ed.D. in Curriculum and Teaching from Teachers College, Columbia University. 

Twitter: @CrystalChenLee1

Dr Seung Eun (Sunny) McDevitt

Dr Seung Eun (Sunny) McDevitt

Assistant professor of special education at St. John’s University in Queens, New York, USA.

Seung Eun (Sunny) McDevitt, Ed.D., is an assistant professor of special education at St. John’s University in Queens, New York, USA. Her research interests include diverse teachers and their inclusive practice for marginalized children in early childhood education and care contexts. Prior to entering academia, Dr. McDevitt was an early childhood/special education teacher and a learning specialist in New York City.

Twitter: @SunnyMcDevitt

Dr A Lin Goodwin

Dr A Lin Goodwin

Dean and Professor of the Faculty of Education at the University of Hong Kong

Lin Goodwin (葛文林) is Dean and Professor of the Faculty of Education at the University of Hong Kong. Professor Goodwin’s research focuses on teacher/teacher educator beliefs, identities and development; equitable education and powerful teaching for immigrant and minoritized youth; international analyses and comparisons of teacher education practice and policy.

Twitter: @algoodwin_TC

GENE Awards

EERA is delighted and honoured to be partnering with the Global Educational Network in Europe (GENE) to make significant research funds available to our members to further research in the area of global education.

These research awards are funded by Global Education Network Europe (GENE), the European network of Ministries and Agencies with national responsibility for policymaking, funding, and support in the field of Global Education. For this reason, the subject area for research projects undertaken is that of Global Education.

The purpose of the award is to support quality research around the themes outlined here  – which have been identified as of interest to policymakers. Gathering of existing research, application of existing research from other areas of education to Global Education, follow-up studies, all are perfectly acceptable. It is not expected that the research has to draw policy conclusions – but to make available up-to-date, policy-relevant research from which policymaker can draw their own conclusions.

References and Further Reading

[2] American Psychological Association (APA), Presidential Task Force on Educational Disparities. (2012). Ethnic and racial disparities in education: Psychology’s contributions to understanding and reducing disparities. Retrieved from

[12] Cochran-Smith, M. (2010). Toward a theory of teacher education for social justice. In A. Hargreaves (Eds.), Second international handbook of educational change (pp. 445–467). Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer.

[9] European Commission. (2013a). Education and training in Europe 2020: Responses from the EU member states. Brussels: Eurydice.

[6] European Commission. (2013b). Supporting teacher competence development for better learning outcomes. Retrieved from

[11] hooks, b. (1994). Teaching to transgress. New York, NY: Routledge.

[7] Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). (2010). Educating teachers for diversity: Meeting the challenge. Retrieved from

[3] Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). (2016). Supporting teacher professionalism: Insights from TALIS 2013. Retrieved from

[8] Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). (2019). TALIS 2018
results (Volume I): Teachers and school leaders as lifelong learners.
Paris: OECD

[10] Paine, L., Blòmeke, S., & Aydarova, O. (2016). Teachers and teaching in the context of
globalization. In D. Gitomer & C. Bell, (Eds.), Handbook of research on teaching (pp.
717-786). Washington, DC: AERA.

[1] Public Policy & Management Institute. (2017). Preparing teachers for diversity: The role of initial teacher education.Brussels: European Commission.

[4] Sugarman, J. (2017). Beyond teaching English: Supporting high school completion by immigrant and refugee students. Washington, DC: Migration Policy Institute.

[5] UNICEF. (2020). Child migration. Retrieved from