The rise of ChatGPT, a powerful language model developed by OpenAI, has garnered significant attention and raised concerns about its impact on academic integrity. While chatbot technology has existed in various forms for years, ChatGPT stands out as the most advanced and capable of generating human-like text. Its popularity has grown rapidly, particularly among students who see it as a potential tool for writing essays and assignments.
However, concerns have been raised about the use of ChatGPT as a means of cheating. Reports suggest that some students have utilized the chatbot to write essays on prescribed texts without actually reading them, resulting in concerns over the fairness of student assessment. A communications lecturer at Melbourne’s Deakin University found that a significant number of essays she marked showed evidence of bot assistance.
The issue has become so significant that some schools in the United States have already banned access to ChatGPT’s URL to prevent potential negative effects on students. The use of this technology has quickly become synonymous with cheating, raising questions about academic integrity.
Despite the concerns, computer science experts and universities themselves view this technology as a transformative tool for learning. They argue that it enhances human capabilities by providing students with powerful writing assistance. Phillip Dawson, co-director at Deakin University’s Centre for Research in Assessment and Digital Learning, compares students using ChatGPT to a pilot learning to fly a modern plane. He suggests that while students should be able to utilize these tools, they must still possess the skills to navigate their subjects even without them.
ChatGPT’s development is based on a massive dataset, allowing it to observe patterns in texts from various sources worldwide. However, it’s important to note that it is not a database but rather a model that creates new prose based on learned characteristics. This means that ChatGPT is not infallible and may still make mistakes, possess knowledge gaps, or exhibit biases.
Experts emphasize the importance of human involvement in the editing and fact-checking process. While ChatGPT can be a valuable tool for generating first drafts, it cannot replace the need for critical thinking and understanding of the topic. Dr. Cheryl Pope, a senior lecturer at the University of Adelaide, suggests that using ChatGPT should be seen as a starting point rather than a complete solution. It can provide a foundation for further refinement and exploration.
Additionally, chatbot software has the potential to make education more accessible to individuals who struggle with traditional assessment methods or have other commitments. It provides students with 24/7 access to study help and eliminates potential social barriers to seeking assistance.
While concerns about the potential misuse of this technology exist, universities are looking for ways to embrace it responsibly. Rather than returning to traditional exam formats, universities aim to support students in developing awareness, knowledge, and skills in the ethical and responsible use of AI tools. They recognize that AI will play a significant role in future careers and want students to graduate as digitally fluent citizens.