Before artificial intelligence made the jump into the hands of the public, students had to cheat on writing assignments the old-fashioned way: by discreetly wiring money to ghostwriters and copying and pasting.
But since the viral rise of AI chatbot ChatGPT, some students are now turning to a new generation of free, artificially intelligent ghostwriters: chatbots that can create personalized, well-written content in seconds from as little as a singular prompt.
ChatGPT produces brand new content that has been largely able to evade conventional plagiarism detectors, even though the unauthorized use of ChatGPT and other generative AI technologies violates the University’s academic integrity policy, an ASU spokesperson wrote in an email.
ASU is still grappling with how to identify, address and prevent academic integrity violations involving generative AI. Currently, the University is dealing with such incidents on a case-by-case basis until the Office of the Provost develops a more concrete policy.
“Generative AI technologies offer both challenges to academic integrity and opportunities to improve teaching and learning,” an ASU spokesperson wrote in an email. “ASU is cognizant of both sides of this rapidly evolving debate and developing a framework of policies and recommendations to positively employ these powerful technologies to enhance learner outcomes.”
This spring, over one in five students reported using AI to help complete their assignments or tests in a survey by higher education research website BestColleges.
Because ChatGPT produces written content, much of the alarm it’s caused in academia is concentrated in writing-centric subjects. However, Kathleen Hicks, the director of online programs for ASU’s English department, has found that ChatGPT’s writing is less undetectable than the initial panic made it seem.
“When you don’t know how to prompt (ChatGPT) very well, the writing that it produces is very formulaic,” she said. “And so in that case, there are some hallmarks that you can notice in the responses that ChatGPT produces.”
Human writing tends to be more creative and varied than ChatGPT’s writing, but it typically comes with more mistakes, like typos, grammatical errors and overly complicated sentences. These quirks are small ways for professors to sense that a paper was written by a human, not an AI chatbot.