Artificial intelligence is improving in writing and universities should be concerned about plagiarism

Michael Mindzak, Brock University and Sarah Elaine Eaton, Calgary University

The dramatic rise in online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted concerns about the role of technology in examination surveillance – and also on student cheating.

Some universities have reported more traps during the pandemic, and such concerns are developing in a climate where technologies that allow the automation of writing further improve.

For the past two years, the ability of artificial intelligence to generate writing has jumped advance significantly, particularly with the development of what is known as the GPT-3 language generator. With this, companies like Google, Microsoft and NVIDIA now can produce “Human-like” text.

AI-generated writing has increased the stakes of how universities and schools will measure what constitutes academic misconduct, such as plagiarism. As scholars with interest in academic integrity and the intersections of work, society and the work of educators, we believe that Educators and parents should, at the very least, pay close attention to these important advances..

AI and academic writing

The use of technology in academic writing is already widespread. For example, many universities already use text-based plagiarism checkers like Turnitin, while students can use Grammatically, a cloud-based writing assistant. Examples of writing support include automatic text generation, extraction, prediction, mining, form filling, paraphrasing, translation and transcription.

Read more: In a world of artificial intelligence, we must teach students how to work with robot writers.

Advances in artificial intelligence technology have led to new tools, products, and services. offered to writers to get better content and efficiency. As these improve, soon full articles or rehearsals can be generated and written entirely by artificial intelligence. In schools, the implications of such developments will undoubtedly shape the future of learning, writing, and teaching.

A girl at a computer surrounded by zeros and ones as binary code.
What if an essay was 100% AI written, but a student did a lot of the coding themselves? (Shutterstock)

Already widespread misconduct concerns

Research has revealed that Concerns about academic misconduct are already widespread in all higher education institutions in Canada. and internationally.

In Canada, there is little data on rates of misconduct. Research published in 2006 based on data from the majority of undergraduate students in 11 institutions of higher education found that 53 percent reported participating in one or more cases of serious cheating in written work, defined as copying material without footnotes, copying material almost word for word, submitting work done by someone else, manufacture or falsify a bibliography, present a paper that they bought or obtained from someone else for free.

Academic misconduct is in all likelihood underinformed in Canadian higher education institutions.

There are different types of violations of academic integrity, including plagiarism, cheat contract (where students hire other people to write their work) and cheat on exams, among others.

Unfortunately, with technology, students can use their ingenuity and entrepreneurship to cheat. These concerns also apply to faculty members, academics, and writers in other fields, raising new concerns around academic integrity and artificial intelligence, such as:

  • If a piece of writing was 49 percent written by AI and the remaining 51 percent was written by a human, is it considered original work?
  • What if an essay was 100% AI written, but a student did some of the coding themselves?
  • What do you qualify as “AI assistance” as opposed to “academic cheating”?
  • Do the same rules apply to students as to academics and researchers?

We are asking these questions in our own researchAnd we know that in the face of all this, educators will need to consider how writing can be effectively assessed as these technologies improve.

Integrity increased or decreased?

At the moment, there is little guidance, policy, or oversight available regarding technology, artificial intelligence, and academic integrity for teachers and educational leaders.

Over the past year, COVID-19 has pushed more students toward online learning, an area in which teachers may become less familiar with their own students, and therefore potentially, with their writing.

While it remains impossible to predict the future of these technologies and their implications for education, we can attempt to discern some of the broader trends and trajectories that will affect teaching, learning, and research.

Technology and automation in education

A key concern going forward is the apparent movement toward increased education automation where educational technology companies offer basic products like writing tools as proposed solutions to the various “problems” within education.

An example of this is automated evaluation of student work, such as automated grading of student writing. There are already numerous commercial products for automated grading, although academics and educators have not yet fully explored the ethics of these technologies.

Read more: Online test supervision can invade privacy and erode trust in colleges

In general, the traditional landscape surrounding academic integrity and authorship is rapidly being reshaped by technological developments. These technological developments also raise concerns about a change in professional control away from educators and growing new expectations of digital literacy in precarious work environments.

Read more: Precarious employment in education impacts workers, families and students

These complexities, concerns, and questions will require further reflection and discussion. Education stakeholders at all levels will be required to respond to and reconsider the definitions, as well as the values ​​surrounding plagiarism, originality, academic ethics, and academic work in the very near future.

The authors would like to sincerely thank Ryan Morrison of George Brown College, who provided significant experience, advice, and assistance with the development of this article.

Michael Mindzak, Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Education, Brock University and Sarah Elaine Eaton, Educational Leader in Residence, Academic Integrity and Assistant Professor, Calgary University

This article is republished from The conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the Original article.

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