AI, or artificial intelligence, refers to the simulation of human intelligence in machines that are programmed to think and learn. ChatGPT is a type of AI called a language model, which is specifically trained to generate natural language text. ChatGPT has been making education headlines since late 2022 when AI experts, researchers, educators, and students began raising the alarm about its ability to mimic human writing, opening a pandora’s box of issues regarding academic dishonesty. Researchers have even put the capabilities of the system to the test, asking the software to complete an MBA, write scientific abstracts, and complete English language comprehension exams.
Specifically, researchers and educators are concerned about ChatGPT’s ability to answer any prompt in any style, offering students the chance to have artificial intelligence write and rewrite their term papers, post their discussion board responses, craft their cover letters, complete their research, and more. While students submitting ChatGPT responses and claiming it as their own work will very likely fall under your institution’s definition of academic dishonesty, if you can’t tell a student’s work was completed by ChatGPT and current plagiarism software is unable to recognize it, then how can those rules regarding academic dishonesty be enforced? And in a not-too-distant future, if students begin relying too heavily on ChatGPT and other AI-powered systems, they become less likely to think critically or independently and are more likely to depend on the system to complete their schoolwork.
Academic honesty fears aside, many in the education and AI communities have risen to defend the use of ChatGPT for both students and instructors. They argue that these technologies can be used to enhance education and make learning more efficient and effective through automated grading, personalized learning, virtual tutoring and teaching, language translation, and a variety of other capabilities. ChatGPT, when used as a resource for learning, gives students a new place to begin their learning, writing, and research, and can serve as an alternative to Google. Supporters of AI and ChatGPT in education suggest that these tools can improve student engagement and learning outcomes, while also making the teaching process more efficient and effective.
While it’s hard to know where ChatGPT is headed and its long-term implications for our classrooms, there are some actions you can take in the immediate future to help protect your courses and assessments from academic dishonesty.
Education Strategies for ChatGPT
For centuries, educators have been adapting their teaching styles, assessments, and expectations for learning due to changing technologies. From the introduction of the handheld calculator to Google searches to Wikipedia, we are constantly changing our concept of what it means to be “academically dishonest.” As these standards for honesty and learning change, it is our duty as educators to help our students understand the ethics behind those standards. As the use of AI and ChatGPT increases in our classrooms, consider reviewing the following with students regularly in your courses:
- Privacy and Security Issues: ChatGPT and other AI-powered systems store and process large amounts of data, which can be vulnerable to cyberattacks or other breaches of privacy. As with any technology, students should closely monitor their online activity and never engage with systems that put their private data at risk.
- Biases and Stereotypes: There are ethical concerns about how AI systems like ChatGPT can perpetuate biases and stereotypes, particularly when it comes to language generation. Responses from AI can be harmful to marginalized groups and should be monitored closely by those requesting them. Students submitting harmful language written by an AI program will likely be held accountable by their institution.
- Limited Capabilities & Understanding: ChatGPT and other AI-powered systems are only as good as the data they are trained on and have access to. If the data is limited or biased in some way, the system’s responses may not be accurate or appropriate. This can lead to confusion or misinformation for students. All responses given by AI should be carefully scrutinized and evaluated for accuracy.
- Academic Dishonesty: While your institutional academic dishonesty statement might not yet include language about AI or ChatGPT, talk to students about how plagiarism is defined at your institution. Explain how the submission of work that is not their own is academically dishonest and how that can impact their career at the university now and in the future. If your institution has updated their academic dishonesty statement to include language surrounding AI, be sure that these statements are updated in your course templates and syllabi.
While ChatGPT and other AI-powered can be beneficial, students need to be aware of their limitations and ethical drawbacks and should be encouraged to only use them in a thoughtful and responsible way.
Assessments that involve writing or language-based tasks are the most vulnerable to student cheating through ChatGPT or other AI-powered systems. In order to best protect your course from academic dishonesty, consider revising your most vulnerable assessment types. To begin, review the assessments currently required in your courses and flag any assessments where students are asked to respond to writing prompts. This includes essays, open-book exams, translations, and discussion boards. Cheating on assignments like these can be particularly difficult to detect, as the AI-generated text can be difficult to distinguish from a student’s own work.
Once these vulnerable assessments have been identified, consider how you might revise the assessment to make the use of AI or ChatGPT a less appealing option for students. For example:
- Scaffold Assessments: Large writing assessments such as essays are often most valuable and more challenging when they are scaffolded to require multiple check-ins and submissions throughout your semester. Rather than having students submit an essay at the end of a course, have students submit portions of the essay over time, revising and building on their work as they go.
- Require Reflection: For discussion prompts, ask students to reflect on the content that they have been reviewing in the course such as your personal lectures, slide decks, readings, and so forth. Then, ask students to cite and reference those materials in their responses.
- Change from Regurgitate to Investigate: ChatGPT and other types of AI are excellent at relaying information. Rather than asking students to regurgitate information learned in your course through essay questions, ask students to investigate local issues or current events, offer solutions to problems, debate both sides of an argument, or find resources that support or disprove a point.
Alongside these revised assessments, consider offering a ChatGPT or other AI response to the question or prompt. In this response, indicate why it is inadequate and what steps a student would need to take to improve upon the response.
It’s important to note that these assessments are not the only forms of cheating possible with the use of ChatGPT. Academically dishonest students may try to cheat, and methods are constantly evolving. Keep yourself up to date on the capabilities and risk of AI systems and have strategies in place to detect and prevent academic dishonesty.
Rather than trying to stay a step ahead of AI and ChatGPT, some faculty have adopted the tools in their assignments, assessments, and classrooms. In fact, this has been the resounding recommendation from many instructional designers, educational technology providers, and online teaching and learning experts. As a language generation model, ChatGPT can’t substitute for human instruction or feedback, but it can be a helpful tool that can be used in conjunction with your teaching. For example:
- Get Students Started with Writing Prompts: Ask students to use ChatGPT to generate writing prompts for them to respond to. This can help inspire creativity and encourage students to think critically about their next steps.
- Critique Accuracy & Further Investigation: Ask students to ask ChatGPT a question related to your subject matter. Have them critique the accuracy of the AI’s response and provide additional clarification, research, and resources related to the response. Refocus assignments on the power of digital literacy.
- Offer Alternative Peer Review: Have students use ChatGPT to generate feedback for on their written work. This can be a fun tool for peer review, as it can provide students with feedback on their writing. Ask students to reflect on the suggestions made by ChatGPT and have them explain why they did or did not apply the feedback.
- Stop Writer’s Block: Sometimes the hardest part is getting started. Have your students utilize ChatGPT to create outlines for essays. Workshop those outlines to craft strong, researchable theses and supporting points. Using ChatGPT as a tool to generate ideas and organize thoughts for writing assignments can help get the creative juices flowing.
There are also a variety of AI tools available to you and your students outside of ChatGPT that can enhance your teaching:
- Krisp: Krisp’s AI removes background voices, noises, and echo from your calls
- Beatoven: Create unique royalty-free music that elevates your story
- Cleanvoice: Automatically edit your podcast episodes
- Podcastle: Studio quality recording, right from your computer
- Flair: Design branded content in a flash
- Illustroke: Create killer vector images from text prompts
- Patterned: Generate exact patterns for design
- Stockimg: Generate the perfect stock photo you need, every time
- Copy: AI-Generated copy that actually increases conversion
- Unbounce Smart Copy: Write high-performing cold emails at scale
- Vidyo: Make short-form videos from long-form content in just a few clicks
- Maverick: Generate personalized videos at scale
- Soundraw: Stop searching for the song you need. Create it.
- Cleanup: Remove any wanted object, defect, people, or text from your pictures in seconds
- Resumeworded: Improve your resume and LinkedIn profile
- Looka: Design your own beautiful brand
- theresanaiforthat: Comprehensive database of AIs available for every task
- Synthesia: Create AI videos by simply typing in text
- descript: New way to make video and podcasts
- Otter: Capture and share insights from your meetings and create captions and transcripts
No matter how you integrate ChatGPT or other AI, always include a conversation with students about potential ethical concerns, such as the potential for the model to perpetuate biases or stereotypes in language generation.
Educational technology has long used AI to improve upon and create new services. For Edtech providers, ChatGPT’s capabilities and impacts on education were only a matter of “when.” In response to ChatGPT, many Educational Technology companies have issued statements and roadmaps for how they plan to help institutions tackle concerns about academic dishonesty. Reach out to the providers that are available on your campus to better understand what they are doing to support you and your students. Here are some of the most recent statements from leading plagiarism providers about what they are doing to combat AI:
- Turnitin: Sneak Preview of Turnitin’s AI Writing and ChatGPT Detection Capability
- Plagiarismcheck.org: Chat GPT vs Academic Integrity – Is University and College Writing At Risk?
- Copyleaks: AI Content Detector Chrome Extension
It’s also worth noting that, as AI language generation systems become more sophisticated, it will become increasingly difficult to detect when a student has used one to cheat. Always stay up to date on the developments in this field, be familiar with your providers current and future capabilities, and have strong academic dishonesty policies in place to help address this.
ChatGPT and AI are not only used by academically dishonest students. As we’ve discussed, these can be powerful, educationally beneficial tools. In order to keep yourself up to date with the expanding capabilities, consider harnessing the power of AI in your own work.
- Plagiarism Detection: ChatGPT and other AI-powered systems can be used to help identify plagiarism and other forms of academic dishonesty. In some instances, they are able to identify text written by AI. If you suspect a student has submitted an answer that is generated by ChatGPT, you can ask the tool itself. If the student has not made any changes to the AI-generated response, the AI may be able to recognize it:
- Utilize Alternative AI Detection Sites: In response to the influx of content created by ChatGPT and other AI sources, developers have created sites that can identify content created by AI. For example, GPT-2 Output Detector can do a great job identifying content written by AI to help you determine whether or not a student’s assignment submission is entirely their own.
- Exam Question Generation: As you write exams and other types of questions, you can use ChatGPT to help generate new question formats. More unique question types can help reduce cheating on exams. You can also enter your exam questions into ChatGPT to better understand how the AI might answer those questions to better prepare you for student answers.
- Workshop Course Objectives: If you’re designing a new course or revising an old one, use ChatGPT to workshop and improve your course objectives. You can even ask the tool for ideas for aligned assessments and activities in your course.
As we all begin to learn more about how AI will impact our classrooms and our teaching, consider these strategies to help foster a more academically honest classroom while embracing the newest tools for teaching and learning.