Unraveling Downstream Gender Bias from Large Language Models: A Study on AI Educational Writing Assistance

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Large Language Models (LLMs) are increasingly utilized in educational tasks such as providing writing suggestions to students. Despite their potential, LLMs are known to harbor inherent biases which may negatively impact learners. Previous studies have investigated bias in models and data representations separately, neglecting the potential impact of LLM bias on human writing. In this paper, we investigate how bias transfers through an AI writing support pipeline. We conduct a large-scale user study with 231 students writing business case peer reviews in German. Students are divided into five groups with different levels of writing support: one classroom group with feature-based suggestions and four groups recruited from Prolific — a control group with no assistance, two groups with suggestions from fine-tuned GPT-2 and GPT-3 models, and one group with suggestions from pre-trained GPT-3.5. Using GenBit gender bias analysis, Word Embedding Association Tests (WEAT), and Sentence Embedding Association Test (SEAT) we evaluate the gender bias at various stages of the pipeline: in model embeddings, in suggestions generated by the models, and in reviews written by students. Our results demonstrate that there is no significant difference in gender bias between the resulting peer reviews of groups with and without LLM suggestions. Our research is therefore optimistic about the use of AI writing support in the classroom, showcasing a context where bias in LLMs does not transfer to students’ responses.

Ryan Watkins