Although Daily acknowledges that this technological advancement brings forth new worries in the realm of academia, she doesn’t see it as a completely foreign territory. “I think we’ve already been on a version of this path for some time now,” Daily states. “Students who commit plagiarism often take material from a ‘somewhere’—a website, for instance, that doesn’t have clear authorial attribution. I suspect the definition of plagiarism will be broadened to include things that are generated.”
In the end, Daily believes a student who utilizes text from ChatGPT will be viewed similarly to one who copies and pastes from Wikipedia without giving credit. Students’ opinions on ChatGPT are a whole different issue. There are those, like Cobbs, who can’t fathom putting their name on anything created by a bot, but they also look at it as merely another tool, like spellcheck or even a calculator. For Brown University sophomore Jacob Gelman, ChatGPT is a helpful research assistant.
“Saying using ChatGPT to find reliable sources from the internet is cheating is ridiculous. It’s like saying using the internet to do research is unethical,” Gelman expresses. “To me, ChatGPT is the research equivalent of Grammarly. I use it out of practicality and that’s it.” Cobbs shared a similar sentiment, equating the AI bot to “an online encyclopedia.”
While some students use the bot to expedite research, others use the high-capacity prompt input feature to generate finished works for submission. It might seem obvious what qualifies as cheating here, but different schools across the country have different takes.
According to Carlee Warfield, chair of Bryn Mawr College’s Student Honor Board, the school considers any use of these AI programs as plagiarism. The tool’s popularity calls for more thoroughness in evaluating the intention behind students’ violations. Warfield explains that students who turn in essays entirely produced by AI are dissimilar from those who take from online tools without knowledge of proper citations. Because the ChatGPT phenomenon is still relatively novel, students’ confusion concerning the ethics is understandable. And it’s uncertain what rules will remain in place once the dust settles—at any school.
Amid major changes in the academic and technological spheres, universities must reconsider their definitions of academic integrity to reflect society’s circumstances accurately. The only problem is, society is always advancing.
“Villanova’s current academic integrity code will be updated to include language that prohibits the use of these tools to generate text that students represent as their own,” Daily explained. “But I think it’s an evolving thing. What it can do and what we need to keep an eye on will also be a moving target.”
In addition to increasingly complex queries about whether ChatGPT is a research tool or a plagiarism engine, there’s also the likelihood that it can be used for learning. In other educational settings, teachers view it as a way to demonstrate to students the shortcomings of AI. Some educators are already changing how they teach by giving students tasks bots couldn’t complete, like those that necessitate personal details or anecdotes. There’s also the matter of detecting AI use in students’ work, which is a growing cottage industry.
Ultimately, Daily says, schools may need regulations that consider a range of variables.
“My guess is that there will be the development of some broad blanket policies that essentially say, unless you have permission from a professor to use AI tools, using them will be considered a violation of the academic integrity code,” Daily states. “That then gives faculty broad latitude to use it in their teaching or in their assignments, as long as they explicitly stipulate that they are allowing it.”
As for ChatGPT, the program agrees. “Advances in fields such as artificial intelligence are expected to drive significant innovation in the coming years,” it says, when asked how schools can combat academic dishonesty. “Schools should constantly review and update their academic honor codes as technology evolves to ensure they are addressing the current ways in which technology is being used in academic settings.”
But a bot would say that.