Professors Face Challenges with Students Using AI Writing Tool

The new AI chatbot, ChatGPT, that imitates human speech and writing, is causing higher education professors to reconsider the value of student essays when they have access to an AI writing tool.

New research of 1,000, four-year college students revealed that 30% of college students have used ChatGPT to complete a written assignment. For perspective, ChatGPt was just released in November 2022.

Key Findings:

  •  46% of students said they knew of ChatGPT while 54% did not.
  • Of the 46% of those aware of ChatGPT, 64% of respondents said they have used it to complete a written assignment.
  • Of this group, 60% estimated they used the tool for 50% of their written assignments.
  • 20% of this group reported using the AI tool for 75% of their written assignments.

The Struggle for Educators:

The question for educators is whether to embrace ChatGPT and incorporate it into their curriculum or to ban it outright. “I will be activating ChatGPT as a partner in our projects,” said Lisa Maione, Assistant Professor of Graphic Design at the Kansas City Art Institute. “ChatGPT does not replace critical thinking or critical reading or critical writing,” she said. “In some ways, I sense this tool will encourage both my students and me to engage with even more reading, writing, and editing.”

Kristina Martin, Adjunct Professor at Albright College, also encourages her students to try out all AI tools but with guardrails. “I do discourage them from using ChatGPT to write answers to discussion posts and other writing assignments, but when I talk about ChatGPT and AI, I also discuss the ethical consideration of using these tools and the responsibility of the user.” She provides her students a list of things they can use the AI tool for.

3 in 4 ChatGPT Users believe it is cheating but use it anyway

Researchers report that three-quarters of students who have used ChatGPT for homework, say it is ‘somewhat’ (46%) or ‘definitely’ (29%) cheating. When including students who say they’re familiar with ChatGPT but haven’t used it themselves, 80% say it is ‘somewhat’ (48%) or ‘definitely’ (32%) cheating.

“I do not consider using ChatGPT to be cheating if the work produced is still original and not plagiarized. However, some may view it as a form of academic dishonesty. Using ChatGPT can be a helpful tool for students, but it is important to use it responsibly and ethically,” said graduate student Christopher Smit from Sheridan College.

According to Canadian college student Sean de Beerand, one of the main reasons to use ChatGPT and other AI tools is to save time and effort. “However, using these tools to complete homework assignments does not really reflect your understanding and comprehension of the material. It is not only cheating but also undermines the purpose of education which is to gain knowledge and skills,” he said. “In my opinion, it is best to use ChatGPT or any similar tool as a source of inspiration, but all of the actual writing and structuring should be done personally by the student.”

This is a quickly developing topic as students and educators test AI tools, and use parameters continue to evolve.