Academic dishonesty can get more complicated when technology enables clueless students a quick way to ace the courses. A college professor in South Carolina shared the story of a student using ChatGPT, an artificial intelligence chatbot, to write an essay for his philosophy class. It’s a loophole that more students are using to cheat on their studies.
“Academia did not see this coming. So we’re sort of blindsided by it,” Furman University assistant philosophy professor Darren Hick said. “As soon as I reported this on Facebook, my [academic] friends said, ‘Yeah, I caught one too.'”
In the past, Hick assigned his class to write a 500-word essay on the philosopher David Hume and the paradox of horror. One submission stood out in the pile for the wrong reasons after it was “flagged” for AI usage in the student’s “rudimentary” answer.
“It’s a clean style. But it’s recognizable. I would say it writes like a very smart 12th-grader,” Hick said “There’s particular odd wording used that was not wrong, just peculiar… if you were teaching somebody how to write an essay, this is how you tell them to write it before they figure out their own style.”
Hick explained that proving that the paper was submitted by ChatGPT is not a straightforward task and it’s difficult to trace back to the technology. Hick copied and pasted the student’s text into software created by the producers of ChatGPT to determine if the written response was connected to the AI. The result was a 99.9 percent likely match but the software offered no citations.
Hick confronted the student and he confessed to cheating with the software. The student received a failing grade due to academic dishonesty. The student was also directed to the school’s academic dean.
Hick said: “What’s going to be the difficulty is that, unlike convincing a friend to write your essay because they took the class before or paying somebody online to write the essay for you, this is free and instantaneous.”
“This is learning software — in a month, it’ll be smarter. In a year, it’ll be smarter,” he added. “I feel the mix myself between abject terror and what this is going to mean for my day-to-day job — but it’s also fascinating, it’s endlessly fascinating.”
The software will keep the professors extra vigilant to catch dishonest students.