Should Universities Let Students Use AI Chatbots? Schools Ban Chat GPT
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Should Universities Let Students Use AI Chatbots? Schools Ban Chat GPT

Jasmyne Jeffery February 15, 2023

Over the last few months, the popularity of artificial intelligence chatbots has increased. With that, have come concerns over possible cheating and fraudulent activities from university systems using the likes of Chat GPT to write essays. Though some have banned the site, some are calling for students to use AI freely within institutions.

ChatGPT exploded into our lives in late 2022. Now, more and more universities are concerned about the effect AI will have on students’ work. Some are banning it completely, others are utilising it to help teaching. There are even those who can see the benefits of it. Whether students should use AI is a big question. We look at some different arguments around its place in universities.

Universities Are Afraid of Students Using AI For Cheating

Around the world, changes are being put into place to prevent students from producing fraudulent essays using AI chatbots.

In Australia, major universities have now officially classed using AI cheating. Institutions in New York have banned it across all devices in public schools. A big concern is the ability of popular chatbots such as ChatGPT to remain undetected by plagiarism safeguards. Essays produced using the software are often good enough to pass as a student’s work.

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Paul Taylor used ChatGPT to answer an essay question; he found the response to be better than some of his students.

“It’s coherent, comprehensive and sticks to the point, something students often fail to do.” Though Taylor pointed out that the answer wasn’t anything extraordinary, the technology will affect how future exams will be taken.

“Next year we will have to set a different kind of exam or bring the students into an exam hall and deprive them of internet access.”

Dr Matthew Brown, deputy chief executive of The Group of Eight, told The Guardian that pen and paper were being considered for future assessments.

“Our universities have revised how they will run assessments in 2023, including supervised exams … greater use of pen and paper exams and tests … and tests only for units with low integrity risks. Assessment redesign is critical, and this work is ongoing for our universities as we seek to get ahead of AI developments.”

Other Institutions Are Using Chatbots To Help Students

Some are still very much against the use of AI by students. However, that isn’t stopping universities from utilising artificial intelligence to support them in other ways.

It’s not uncommon for university lecturers to send automated emails or for their site to have a chat box to help students around the page. Well, often these systems are using AI, and it’s actually benefiting students.

Chatbots have been around for a lot longer than we have been concerned about them. Forbes reports that countless institutions use the software. AI is used to answer students’ questions on class scheduling, finance and even mental health issues. They even suggest the use of the technology to be able to detect fraudulent work, which may make it its own worst enemy.

One professor at Georgia Tech used artificial intelligence to make a virtual teaching assistant. Launched in 2019, the AI teacher was a success and even help high attrition rates for online learning.

EdTech says that students who receive AI contact over the summer holidays are more likely to continue their studies. Students at California State University who had access to chatbot facilities were proven to have higher graduation rates than those who didn’t.

So, whilst these universities may not be letting students write essays using AI, it is improving their university experience.

Some Argue University Students Should Use AI

Academic Scott Graham argues that students using AI for essay writing can have benefits – if used correctly.

Writing is difficult, particularly when you need to do a lot of it, so it’s no surprise that university students turn to artificial intelligence chatbots to help them out. Writing thousands upon thousands of words within a few weeks isn’t easy, particularly if you suffer from procrastination; something AI isn’t affected by.

However, Graham points out that he doesn’t think AI-written essays are up to scratch. However, when speaking to The Register, he suggests they can be a starting point which teaches integral lessons about drafting and the editing process.

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“Some students have a lot of trouble sometimes generating that first draft. If all the effort goes into getting them to generate that first draft, and then they hit the deadline, that’s what they will submit. They don’t get a chance to revise, they don’t get a chance to edit. If we can use those systems to speed write the first draft, it might really be helpful.”

The crux of this argument is that if you use it and still put in the necessary hard work, then there isn’t much harm it in. Through re-drafting, editing and fact-checking, the work becomes the student’s own; AI just gets them off the starting line.

Therefore, AI definitely has its benefits for students and universities and shouldn’t be dismissed as a tool out of cheating fear. Of course, use has to be well-monitored and an AI-generated paper submitted without revisions isn’t good to end well. However, ChatGPT and its counterparts aren’t the end of the academic world, and instead, show its evolving nature.

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Jasmyne Jeffery is a full-time Entertainment and News Writer on university-themed website Freshered and HITC, and joined the company having previously worked in a freelance role. She attended the University of South Wales where she was also a student blogger and graduated in 2022 with a first-class honours degree in English and Creative Writing. Now, she puts her creativity to use reviewing university bars, Love Island episodes and the latest apps any 18-25-year-old is using.