To cheat, or not to cheat: It depends on how you look at it.
ChatGPT, an AI general-purpose chatbot, is taking the K-12 world by storm. Many educators, however, worry that the software enables students to cruise through their coursework and let the AI seamlessly write their essays for them. For example, one columnist for The Wall Street Journal went back to high school for one day to test the chatbot’s ability to survive in a 12th-grade AP literature class. She used it to write a 500- to 1,000-word essay composing an argument “that attempts to situate Ferris Bueller’s Day Off as an existentialist text,” WSJ reported. Effortlessly, she copied and pasted the assignment into chat.openai.com, hit enter, and watched the bot type up 800 words, awarding her a grade that fell into the B-to-C range.
This is a perfect example of what educators are worried about, along with whether they’d be able to tell if the piece was written by a human. According to WSJ, the teacher never suspected that the essay was produced by AI. He simply cited mistakes such as noting that it was “lacking verve and voice,” mistakes common to inexperienced writers.
Recently, a college student at Princeton University designed an app to detect whether a text was written by ChatGPT. However, schools are simply banning the use of the app, and unsurprisingly, students want access to it.
According to a survey of more than 100 educators and 1,000 students across the country by Study.com, an online study and test prep program, perceptions of ChatGPT vary depending on who you talk to.
How educators feel
- ChatGPT is more well-known on the college level as 82% of college professors reported being aware of the software compared to 55% of grade school teachers.
- The majority of college professors who are aware of the program are concerned about its ability to promote cheating (72%) compared to grade-school teachers (58%).
- Across all levels (K-12 and higher education), more than one-third (34%) believe ChatGPT should be banned in schools and universities. As expected, 66% of students express they want access to it.
- Among the slim majority of educators who would use it (21%), here’s how they would do so in the classroom:
- To provide writing prompts (7%)
- To help teach a class (5%)
- To create lesson plans (4%)
- To teach writing styles (4%)
- As a digital tutor (3%)
How students feel
- Nearly all students are aware of the program (over 90%)
- Over 89% of students have used ChatGPT to help with homework assignments.
- Almost half of students (48%) have admitted to using the chatbot for an at-home test or quiz. 53% have used it to write an essay, and 22% to write an outline for a paper.
- Most intriguingly, 72% of college students believe the program should be banned from their college’s network.
Respondents’ thoughts about ChatGPT in education
Study.com asked respondents to submit open-ended responses on the possible implications of the chatbot on education. Here are some examples:
“I don’t think banning it will stop cheating,” one respondent said. “I think that it creates an opportunity to have discussions with students about why we ask them to do assignments and how cheating won’t benefit them.”
One respondent said there are some benefits to using the program.
“I love that students would have another resource to help answer questions,” they said. “Do I worry some kids would abuse it? Yes. But they use Google and get answers without an explanation. It’s my understanding that ChatGPT explains answers. That would be more beneficial.”
Another educator, however, is extremely worried.
“My entire department is nervous about the sudden easy access to AI writing tools, and we’ve already seen assignments from our students using it,” they said. “For now, it’s fairly easy to spot, but we’re afraid that it’s only a matter of a year or so before we’ll be able to suss out the cheating. We don’t have a plan and are eager to find one.”