A chatbot is a computer program that is designed to simulate conversation with human users, especially over the Internet. Chatbots commonly use artificial intelligence to provide customer service, answer frequently asked questions, or help people complete tasks.
Chatbots have introduced significant challenges to academic integrity in education. As chatbots become more accessible to everyday users, educators have expressed concerns about students using them to generate answers to questions on tests and assignments. Because chatbots are designed to understand and produce natural language input, they can respond to questions in ways that make it difficult to distinguish chatbot-generated content from student-generated responses.
If you are interested in looking at what a chatbot can do, try chatGPT. Consider entering questions you ask your students into the tool to see what kind of responses are generated.
AI as a Tool for Learning
Rather than reacting in fearful ways to new advances in artificial intelligence, some educators have been thinking about innovative ways to use it to support student learning. AI tools have potential benefits, such as providing new perspectives on a problem and generating content that can be analyzed or critiqued. Undoubtedly, instructors need to provide guidelines to students about the appropriate and inappropriate uses of artificial intelligence tools. However, instructors can also model and encourage productive and positive uses of artificial intelligence and help students see its value.
Here are some ideas to help you communicate appropriate uses of AI to students and use it to support learning:
- In the course syllabus, expand your academic integrity statement to include AI-generated text and Chat-GPT. At the beginning of the semester, discuss what academic integrity looks like and the acceptable and improper uses of AI tools. Keep this discussion positive instead of threatening as the goal is to promote curiosity about topics presented in course and have students be invested in their learning.
- Use AI as a reference to clarify topics. For instance, use an AI tool to generate a paragraph that explains a concept you are teaching. Invite your students to analyze the paragraph and revise and improve it based on what they have learned about the concept. This can help students contrast high quality work versus AI-generated content.
- Encourage students to utilize an AI tool outside of class to get additional clarification on a concept that might have been confusing. Students can access AI tools 24 hours a day and in multiple languages. Because accessing AI tools is anonymous, it gives more introverted students opportunities to ask questions they wouldn’t feel comfortable asking in class.
- Discuss the benefits of using AI as a study tool. Students could ask a chatbot to generate questions on a topic they are learning about and then try to answer the questions.
- Encourage students to explore how AI will be applicable in their future career fields. What problems could AI solve, how could it improve an existing practice, or what are the potential pitfalls of relying on an AI tool in this particular discipline/profession?
Revising Your Assignments and Assessments
Understanding why students may inappropriately use AI tools can shed light on the importance of revising your current assignments and assessments. For example, students may use AI tools to cheat if they feel assignments or exams are unfair or irrelevant. They might also use AI inappropriately if they are not confident in their understanding of the content required to complete the assignment, feel a time crunch, or have an unmanageable workload. Some students feel pressure to get a perfect grade, and they value performance over learning.
Rather than constantly feeling like you are investigating whether students are inappropriately using AI tools, there are many things you can do to make your assignments and assessments AI resistant. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
- Explain why assignments are beneficial and relevant and provide the support students need to complete them. Ask yourself questions like: what have I done to help students understand the concepts well enough? Would I be intrinsically motivated to complete this assignment? Have I clearly explained expectations and outcomes? Do students see why completing an assignment is meaningful and applicable?
- Offer frequent, low-stakes assignments or assessments which provide opportunities for you to give students feedback about their understanding. Doing this will give them opportunities to see what they need to spend more time reviewing and gives them confidence in the areas that they have mastered.
- Because AI tools currently rely on text prompts, ask students to respond to an image, chart, or diagram in writing prompts. You can also ask students to create an infographic or concept map to demonstrate their understanding. Students with visual impairments may need an alternative way to show their understanding, like a text response.
- Don’t rely only on written responses to assess understanding. Consider alternative ways for students to demonstrate what they know by creating things like videos, podcasts, oral or poster presentations, or a diagram with an explanation.
- Use in-class activities to assess learning, such as applying what they’ve learned to a case study, an article, or a podcast.
- Ask students to summarize what they have learned in class through a weekly written reflection. This will allow the student to see how their knowledge has progressed throughout the course.
- Consider breaking large writing assignments or projects into smaller parts. Provide feedback or incorporate peer review so that students receive formative and constructive feedback on each part of the assignment.
Detecting AI Generated Responses
While there may not be a consistent and reliable way to identify AI generated writing, there are a few online tools that claim to predict how likely text was generated by AI. These tools have not proven to be reliable and should not be relied on to support accusations of academic dishonesty.
The following references provide information about how to communicate standards about artificial intelligence to your students and how you can leverage the benefits of artificial intelligence to facilitate student learning.
- The AI Podcast: UF Provost Joe Glover on Building a Leading AI University-Ep. 186
- Ethan and Lilach Mollick
- Sidney Dobrin: Talking About Generative AI: A Guide for Educators
- Jennifer Casa-Todd: Learning more about Chat GPT in Education
- Marci Harris: ChatGPT—The Game Changing App Every Teacher Should Know About
- Learning that Matters: Helpful Resources
- Beth McMurtrie: AI and the Future of Undergraduate Writing
- Amy Novotney: Beat the Cheat
- John Warner: How about we put learning at the center?
- Scott Warnock: Frequent, Low-Stakes Grading: Assessment for Communication, Confidence
- Ryan Watkins: Update Your Course Syllabus for chatGPT
- What is ChatGPT? (video)