How schools are dealing with students using ChatGPT to write assignments

Teachers across the country are trying to figure out how to deal with a new technology that could alter how students perform or cheat.

An artificial intelligence (AI) program known as ChatGPT has some core universities in North Carolina looking at developing rules for it in the classroom.

Three years ago, North Carolina State University English professor Paul Fyfe said he’s noticed that artificial intelligence like ChatGPT is starting to catch up with what students can do in class.

“It’s a sneaky way of engaging them with questions that I think a lot of people have about creativity, authenticity, plagiarism and the possibilities of this software,” Fyfe said.

ChatGPT uses a learning technique called “transformer architecture” to sift through data containing billions of words to create answers to prompts or questions. Give it a prompt and the AI ​​can generate lines of text, even an entire essay. However, it requires some editing.

For one of Fyfe’s courses, he asked his students to use the software to intentionally cheat for a thesis that was due.

“It feels a bit like cheating,” newcomer Colin Byerly said of the assignment. “It was pretty fun, honestly.”

Byerly wrote parts of the essay himself, but ChatGPT wrote significant parts of it.

“It felt a bit robotic, for lack of a better word,” Byerly said.

The programs are so advanced that they can pass business, legal, and medical exams, leaving teachers across the country struggling.

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WRAL News reached out to 10 different colleges, universities and school districts in central North Carolina to see what they are doing to prepare for the rise of programs like ChatGPT.

Most institutions, including Duke University and the Wake County Public School System, said they were waiting and watching the technology.

Other schools, like the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said they actively bring professors together to try to develop a set of rules.

“I think it happens everywhere,” said Dr. Mohammad Jarrahi, Associate Professor at the UNC School of Information and Library Science. “As we evolve, is the best model [a] Partnership.”

Jarrahi said schools should take a two-pronged approach:

  1. Updated Codes of Honor to specify when AI can and cannot be used
  2. Adjusting writing assignments so students must draw on personal experience.

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According to Fyfe, AI is already rewriting how students do their work. He listed several software features his students use:

  • Intelligent composing: Personalized suggestions tailored to your normal spelling to keep your writing style.
  • Grammar: A writing assistant that helps you write cleanly with suggestions that go beyond grammar. It’s a bit like spell checking.
  • Autocomplete: Google search and other smart devices like iPhones allow people to start typing a word and the device generates predictions of what the word will sound like.

The challenge for professors is to prepare students for a world where their co-author is a computer, both inside and outside the classroom.

The maker of ChatGPT this week released a tool that teachers can use to tell if work is from a student or a computer. ChatGPT’s “AI Text Classifier” is the result of discussions in the academic community.