Chat GPT and Academic Dishonesty |

Chat GPT and Academic Dishonesty

The technology advancement known as Chat GPT has taken the world by storm, bringing with it many issues that have yet to be regulated by authorities. Chat GPT, which stands for Chat Generative Pre-trained Transformer, is a language model-based chatbot developed by a company named OpenAI. You can simply open a chat box, type in a question, and instantaneously receive a thoroughly researched answer. It can also create content such as PowerPoint presentations, art, reports, and so on. 

One of the biggest challenges in the education realm is using the chatbot to write assignments, effectively saving time and effort. It can draft resumes, social media posts, essays, emails, almost anything that requires writing. If used without much mental effort from the person, then it can essentially remove the human creativity and ingenuity from these tasks as it is handed off to an impersonal AI platform that is constantly learning and fine-tuning its own abilities. 

The use of AI – artificial intelligence – is also being used to photoshop, generate original art, solve math problems, troubleshoot issues in the cyber world or infrastructure, and much more. Hence, a major restructuring is underway in our cyberworld that is hard to keep up. One of the major problems with the introduction of Open AI by tech firms is that it has not gone through the wringer of regulatory bodies to ensure safer use of it. And regulatory bodies are having to catch up with it and impose policies on the go as the technology rapidly develops. 

How Has Chat GPT Affected Educators? 

How has this affected the world of education? Well, students are capitalizing on the opportunity for “someone else” to write their essays and solve their math problems for them. And many educators are not liking this. Between truly educating oneself compared to getting a good grade in their classes, students are making the choice to either use it or avoid it altogether. 

Many educators have told their students that if they use Chat GPT, they will immediately fail their assignments, according to the New York Times’ podcast “The Daily.” Despite these restrictions, students have become savvy in using it, as we will explore further.1

With the North American economy teetering towards recession, competition for coveted white collared jobs is at high stakes. University students are under more pressure than ever to do well in their studies. Even high school students, who want admission into prestigious universities, would like an edge in their work to succeed. And using Chat GPT has quickly become that “edge” of choice. 

From the perspective of one history professor from Middle Georgia State University, he was able to catch one of his students using Chat GPT to complete their assignment. Having had much experience checking student work over the years, teachers are usually able to tell how they write in contrast to how a computer writes, or even if copied from informational platforms such as Wikipedia. He used a Chat GPT detector on the student’s work and found that the work had a 99 percent chance of being fake. He failed the student for that assignment. His problem was that his history course was a highly specialized one, so an undergraduate student should not sound like an expert on the topic. The professor’s expertise informed him that the voice of the assignment sounded very familiar with the topic – undergraduate students new to his specialized field would not write that way. Ultimately, the professor felt sad and betrayed as the chance for the student to truly learn about the subject is at risk. It is more a matter of wanting to pass the course rather than gain any meaningful knowledge from it. He is now highly skeptical of any student work he receives and has grown quite irritated from it. Many teachers in North America generally have, unfortunately.2 

How Are Students Affected by Chat GPT? 

Some students have been very cautious about using the platform, and some have taken to it in stride with excitement because they have discovered that it can be used as a helpful resource when struggling with a subject. Here are some examples from the podcast’s interviews with the students: 

  • Alyana Nurani doesn’t use it “to analyze or write (her) answers” because she is paying a lot for her education and it would “undercut all the value of it to cheat.” However, she has learned to use it more as a research tool for her subjects. For example, she did not understand what was happening in the epic poem Beowulf, and needed to write an English assignment on it. So she was able to get a quick summary from Chat GPT about it, which gave her a clearer picture of what was written. Then she chose to do the analysis and critical thinking on her own. She believes she should do the hard work of analyzing rather than taking the chatbot’s help.
  • Another student, Terry Dickerson, was not very good at math. He gave the chatbot all the statistics of one assignment, and was immediately given a step-by-step process on how to complete a question.3

The interviewer asked both students what they would have done if Chat GPT were not available. Both admitted that they would have used the help of another classmate or the professor, and are aware that the connection they could have fostered with those people over the material they were studying had been lost. 

One uncomfortable yet interesting aspect that another student interviewee shared  in the podcast  was how the stress of having many assignments due at the same time led him to using the help of tweaking certain paragraphs in one essay with Chat GPT. He would make those AI-developed paragraphs sound more like him so that his teacher wouldn’t notice. In order to achieve this, he asked the chatbot to rewrite a paragraph to make it sound like him by copying and pasting his past work into it. The chatbot read his previous work and made the paragraphs sound like him. After that, the student tweaked the essay further to make it “sound less robotic” and handed it in to his professor, subsequently getting an ‘A’ on it. The professor was aware that parts of his essay were generated by Chat GPT and actually liked those portions; she had no issue with him using the tool. 

The way this technology learns and fine-tunes itself can be a potentially beneficial or  dangerous component. Abuse of this technology can easily become rampant in many ways, however, it is important to highlight the supportive features of it, too, to our youth. Overall, students will keep using it as a resourceful tool in helping them pass their classes and get jobs. It is a tool that needs to be regulated by authorities and be adapted into our lives in a way that is not overpowering our human ingenuity. 

Why Is It Important to Learn Meaningfully? 

How we use or don't use our brain makes a big impact on our neural connections. The "use it or lose it" rule applies to our brain as we age, according to many studies. And how we use it makes a difference to how we maneuver ourselves in the world. For example, just as we are told by our teachers in North America to think critically when producing our essays or debate arguments as this skill will be useful to us in our lives after graduation, developing many other mental skills are as important. If we rely on another source to do our thinking for us – such as using someone else's posted study notes or answers online – then we lose the opportunity to develop new neural connections that would help us to think deeply and differently about the world around us, especially when it comes to problem-solving or building relationships between people and ideas. 

One subject many students neglect to see the importance of is advanced mathematics such as calculus, functions, statistics, or even simple arithmetic. Students feel that learning these subjects would be of no use to us in the real world. In relation to the explosion of AI-use in the education world, I believe we should revisit why meaningful learning should prevail despite this change. 

Neil DeGrasse Tyson, a world renowned astrophysicist, makes a good point on how the "act of learning how to do the math establishes a new kind of brain wiring."4 The "methods, tools, and tactics" you had to develop in order to solve the math problem will become useful to you for solving other problems later in life, even if you never have to solve that type of math problem again. Therefore, the different types of neural connections you make from learning different subjects all come in handy one way or another in your life. If we constantly rely on external impersonal sources (not even human help) to solve our problems or do our mental work, then we lead our brains on a downward trajectory as we age. We lose our creativity, ingenuity, and especially the human connections we could have built. 

Therefore, we as parents need to keep up to date with how the use of Chat GPT and other publicly available AI platforms are affecting our children. We can talk to them about the advantages and also how these tools can be abused. Learning to adapt to our ever-changing world through an Islamic worldview is critical as we determine how these technologies can be beneficial or not to our daily lives. With ongoing communication in our families about this, we hope that they can become better at learning and developing skills in this new environment as reliably discerning and resilient adults, inshaAllah, God-willing. 

End Notes

1 Suspicion, Cheating and Bans: A.I. Hits America’s Schools - The New York Times 

2 Ibid

3 Ibid

Neil deGrasse Tyson explains PERFECTLY why MATH is useful! 

Further Reading Recommendations

ChatGPT Q&A - Academic Integrity at UBC

Chatting and cheating: Ensuring academic integrity in the era of ChatGPT

Faced with criticism it's a haven for cheaters, ChatGPT adds tool to catch them 

Academic integrity in the age of ChatGPT — University Affairs 

Sumayya Khan is a homeschooling mother of two and a teacher. She has worked with several Islamic schools and organizations in the last 10 years. She is currently teaching Literature online with Dawanet and studying the Qur’an through Al-Huda Institute. In her free time, she loves to spend time with her family and friends, play sports, enjoy nature, and read books. She currently resides with her family in Toronto, Canada.

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