Antony Aumann, a philosophy professor at Northern Michigan University, read what he called easily “the best paper in the class” when he was grading a paper in his World Religions course last month. It explores the moral implications of the burqa ban in concise paragraphs, well-placed examples, and rigorous arguments.
A red flag was raised instantly.
Mr Orman questioned his students if he had written the essay himself. The student admitted to using ChatGPT, a chatbot that can convey information, explain concepts and generate ideas in simple sentences — in this case, writing the thesis.
Mr Orman was so appalled by his findings that he decided to change the dissertation writing for his course this semester. He plans to ask students to write first drafts in class using a browser that monitors and restricts computer activity. In subsequent drafts, students must explain each revision. Mr. Aumann, who may drop his dissertation in subsequent semesters, also plans to integrate ChatGPT into the curriculum by having students evaluate the chatbot’s responses.
“What’s happening in the classroom is no longer, ‘Here’s some problems — let’s discuss this among humans,'” he said, but “it’s, ‘What’s this alien robot thinking too?'”
Across the country, college professors, department chairs and administrators like Mr. Aumann are starting to overhaul classrooms in response to ChatGPT, which could trigger a sea change in teaching and learning. Some professors are completely redesigning their courses, making changes that include more oral exams, group assignments, and handwritten rather than typed assessments.
The moves are part of a real-time response to a new wave of technology known as generative artificial intelligence. ChatGPT, released in November by artificial intelligence lab OpenAI, is at the forefront of this shift. The chatbot generates clear, nuanced text from brief prompts, and people use it to write love letters, poems, fan fiction — and their homework.
This has upended some middle and high schools, with teachers and administrators trying to discern whether students are using chatbots to complete their work.Some public school systems, including New York City and Seattle, have since banned the tool from school Wi-Fi networks and devices to prevent cheating, though students can easily find workarounds to access ChatGPT.
In higher education, universities have been reluctant to ban AI tools because administrators are skeptical that the move will work and they don’t want to infringe on academic freedom. This means that the way people teach is changing.
“We’re trying to develop general policies that definitely support the faculty’s right to create courses,” rather than targeting specific cheating methods, said University of Florida provost Joe Glover. “This won’t be the last innovation we have to deal with.”
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This is especially true when generative AI is in its early stages. OpenAI is expected to soon release another tool, GPT-4, which is better at generating text than previous versions. Google has built rival chatbot LaMDA, and Microsoft is discussing investing $10 billion in OpenAI. Silicon Valley startups including Stability AI and Character.AI are also working on generative AI tools.
A spokeswoman for OpenAI said the lab recognizes that its programs can be used to mislead people and is developing technology to help people recognize text generated by ChatGPT.
ChatGPT has now jumped to the top of the agenda at many universities. Administrators are setting up working groups and hosting university-wide discussions in response to the tool, with much of the guidance geared towards adapting the technology.
At schools like George Washington University in Washington, D.C., Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C., professors are phasing out take-home open-book assignments — — which has become a major assessment method epidemic in the United States, but now appears vulnerable to chatbots. Instead, they opt for class assignments, handwritten essays, group assignments and oral exams.
Gone are the prompts like “write five pages about this or that”. Some professors have turned to elaborate questions that they hope will be too smart for chatbots, and ask students to write about their own lives and current events.
Students “copy this because assignments can be copied,” said Sid Dobrin, dean of the English department at the University of Florida.
Frederick Luis Aldama, chair of the humanities at the University of Texas at Austin, said he plans to teach newer or more niche texts that ChatGPT may have less information on, such as William J. Shakespeare’s early sonnets, not “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
Chatbots, he said, could motivate “people who rely on canonical, raw text to actually look beyond their comfort zone and look for things that aren’t online.”
If the changes don’t prevent plagiarism, Mr. Aldama and other professors say they plan to impose stricter standards on what students are expected to do and how they are graded. Now it is not enough for an essay to have the thesis, introduction, supporting paragraphs and conclusion.
“We need to up our game,” Mr Aldama said. “We often think that the imagination, creativity and analytical innovation of the A-level paper needs to permeate the B-level paper.”
Universities are also working to educate students about new AI tools. The University at Buffalo in New York and Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina, said they plan to embed discussions of artificial intelligence tools into required courses, teaching concepts like academic integrity to freshmen or freshmen.
“We had to add a scenario to this so students could see a concrete example,” said Kelly Ahuna, director of the Office of Academic Integrity at the University at Buffalo. “We want to prevent things from happening, not catch them when they happen.”
Other universities are trying to draw the line for AI. Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Vermont in Burlington are drafting revisions to their academic integrity policies so that their definition of plagiarism includes generating AI
John Dyer, associate dean for enrollment services and educational technology at Dallas Theological Seminary, said wording in his seminary’s honor code “feels a little trite anyway.” He plans to update its definition of plagiarism to include: “text written using a generative system as its own (e.g., feeding prompts into an artificial intelligence tool and using the output in a paper).”
The misuse of AI tools likely won’t end, so some professors and universities say they plan to use detectors to root out the activity. Plagiarism detection service Turnitin Say It will include more features for recognition AI, including this year’s ChatGPT.
More than 6,000 faculty from Harvard, Yale, Rhode Island and other universities have also signed up to use GPTZero, a program that promises to quickly detect AI-generated text, said Edward Tian, its founder and a senior at Princeton University.
Some students see value in learning with AI tools. Lizzie Shackney, 27, a law and design student at the University of Pennsylvania, has started using ChatGPT to brainstorm essays and debug coding problem sets.
“Some disciplines want you to share, but don’t want you to idle,” she says, describing her computer science and statistics classes. “Where my brain is useful is in understanding what code means.”
But she has doubts. ChatGPT sometimes misinterprets ideas and miscites sources, Ms. Shackney said. Penn also doesn’t have any regulations for the tool, she said, so she doesn’t want to rely on it in case the school bans it or considers it cheating.
Other students have no such concerns, sharing on forums like Reddit that they’ve submitted assignments written and solved by ChatGPT — sometimes for fellow students as well.On TikTok, the hashtag #chatgpt has more than 578 million views, and people share videos of the tool write thesis and Troubleshoot encoding issues.
one video Shows a student copying a multiple-choice question and pasting it into the tool with the caption: “I don’t know about you guys, but I just made Chat GPT for my final exam. Have fun studying.”