HomeSchool Reform NewsRising Concern About AI’s Role in Cheating 

Rising Concern About AI’s Role in Cheating 

Rising concern that Artificial Intelligence will replace student efforts, by enabling cheating, as hundreds of millions of people try ChatGPT.

College students’ rapid embrace of ChatGPT, the generative artificial intelligence (AI) program that can write research papers, has led to a storm of immediate responses from academics. Professors are wary of the powers of this wondrous, new tool and its effect on students and teaching…and cheating. One teacher’s experience is enlightening and a bit disturbing.

While philosophy professor Antony Aumann of Northern Michigan University, who teaches a world religions course, was grading essays, he was impressed with one on the morality of burqa bans and concluded that its structure, precise  examples, and vigorous arguments made the essay the best in the class. He sensed, however, that something was wrong. When Aumann confronted the student about the veracity of the paper, he confessed he had used ChatGPT. The AI program, supplied with information from the user, can explore and explain difficult ideas and generate text in clean, simple language.

ChatGPT was released by OpenAI last November. Within a few months, professors began sharing anecdotes about students who had used the language-generating program to cheat on papers and exams. On countless campuses, academics argued about what the new technology might portend for the integrity and future of teaching. By late January an estimated 100 million people were using the program each month.

AI is not the first technology to generate fear within the academy. Professors have long worried that given the opportunity or tools, some students will always choose shortcuts over producing their own work. Decades ago, the advent of the affordable handheld calculator raised the same fears. Similarly, 15 years ago, higher ed worried that allowing students to bring laptops and cell phones into classrooms not only would distract them but also make it easier for them to cheat. Now electronics are standard fixtures in the classroom.

University of Pennsylvania professor Ryan Baker, who teaches data mining and learning analytics, optimistically embraces the new technology. When his students use ChatGPT and other types of AI, he will require them to cite it:

“Instead of even thinking about it as cheating, we should encourage students to use these tools heavily, be open about how they’re doing it, and design assignments that leverage that rather than trying to ‘catch’ it.”

A February article in The Free Press reported that the experience of education was changed radically by remote education during the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown. The wide spectrum of tech resources—including Chegg, Quizlet, and Coursera; messaging apps; the easy availability of course materials from recent years; and now, ChatGPT – “have permanently transformed the student experience.”

One Princeton University senior told the writer that cheating is rampant: “Since Covid there’s been an increasing trend toward grade inflation, cheating, and ultimately, academic mediocrity.” At Claremont McKenna near Los Angeles, Professor Amy Kind, who teaches philosophy, said, “Cheating is a big concern among the faculty.”

Originally published by Paideia Times. Republished with permission.

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Paideia Times
Paideia Times
Paideia Times is a news quarterly for higher education trustees.


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