Welcome back to our special The Skills Agenda three-part series on academic integrity. In this series, Susan Bens, educational development specialist at the University of Saskatchewan’s Gwenna Moss Centre for Teaching and Learning, joins me to consider how instructors can approach issues of academic misconduct. In our first column of the series, Susan and I discussed student reasons for academic misconduct and how this information can help instructors reconsider their teaching approaches in order to promote academic integrity. In today’s column, we examine how ChatGPT (along with other generative AI technologies) complicates the issue of academic integrity. In our final column, available next week, we will share ideas for how you can design courses that promote academic integrity.
Linking ChatGPT with student academic misconduct
ChatGPT and its capacity to write coherent responses to prompts has considerable potential for improper use. This issue has been occupying faculty, teaching and learning centres, and academic leaders in 2023. This follows on an already heightened concern for academic misconduct and “contract cheating” that became more apparent during pandemic-driven remote instruction. The surge of issues was documented by Canadian practitioners in a collection of reflections. A Canadian study of faculty perspectives found it was common to feel frustration and even despair about academic misconduct during remote instruction. And then after all that adjustment and revised assessment, just as we were returning to more normal practice, ChatGPT burst on the scene, and within five days had over a million users.
But, is the use of ChatGPT academic misconduct? It depends. If assistance of the kind ChatGPT provides is not permitted for an assessment and the student used it anyway – this is likely academic misconduct. Or, if the student misrepresents themselves as the author of text that was generated by ChatGPT – probably, it’s academic misconduct. Recommendations about ethical use of AI in education offer us a new definition that covers off both contract cheating and artificial intelligence text generators:
“Unauthorized Content Generation (UCG) is the production of academic work, in whole or part, for academic credit, progression or award, whether or not a payment or other favour is involved, using unapproved or undeclared human or technological assistance.”
This might be a definition to add or adapt to your institutional policy or your syllabus statements.
How ChatGPT relates to issues of academic integrity
Like it or not, ChatGPT and similar technologies are now part of the teaching environment. Here, we focus on how it can be used in teaching and learning and not about ethics of its evolution and societal impact. As discussed in a previous Skills Agenda column, “ Embracing change means going beyond accepting change to asking where the opportunities lie for us to harness technology to make academia better.” Are there opportunities to use the disruption of technological advances to promote academic integrity?
In last week’s column, we identified six of the reasons that some students cheat. ChatGPT and similar technology raise new questions that complicate possible solutions to academic misconduct but may also offer opportunities:
|Reason for academic misconduct||Complications with ChatGPT||Opportunities with ChatGPT|
|Lack of connection to material|
|Lack of connection with the instructor|
|Tolerance of academic misconduct|
Next week, we will bring the threads together to discuss how you can use the information on academic misconduct to inform your own course design. For now, please share this column to your colleagues to inform them about what ChatGPT and similar technologies mean for academic integrity.
Continuing the Skills Agenda conversation
Have you dealt with issues of academic integrity and ChatGPT or other technologies in your own teaching? Please let me know in the comments below. I also welcome the opportunity to speak with your university about skills training. Please connect with me at email@example.com, subject line “The Skills Agenda”. And for additional teaching, writing, and time management discussion, please check out my Substack blog, Academia Made Easier.
I look forward to hearing from you. Until next time, stay well, my colleagues.