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'It could get into a lot of sticky situations': When is AI cheating U of S students ask

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Universities around Canada are faced with a new look at an old problem. How do students use technology as a tool, and not as a resource to cheat?

A new language generation model, ChatGPT, has the ability to respond to human questions and generate content like essays, but it raises the question of plagiarism and what’s considered academic misconduct.

While the technology has been around for at least a year, it was just released to the public at the end of 2022.

University professors have responded with a variety of reactions.

“They’ve ranged from extreme excitement, and looking at new technology developments and how that can be leveraged and what the implications will be,” said Nancy Turner, Director of Teaching and Learning Enhancement at the University of Saskatchewan. “To extreme fear, and kind of everything in between.”

It’s clear that the software could be used to plagiarize work.

Despite having no specific guidelines against the use of artificial intelligence, Turner says the current policy around academic integrity applies to ChatGPT.

“I think we need to think about, how do you acknowledge it? If you do use it for example, but our policies and regulations regarding plagiarism really stand and they do cover unattributed and unacknowledged use of written work that the student hasn’t authored themselves,” Turner told CTV News.

While it’s sure to be a game changer for students, they don’t seem too sure about it just yet.

“The stories that I’ve heard about people using ChatGPT, they’ve used it to make entire essays,” said Abang Omot, a current student at the University of Saskatchewan. “This is for your education as a student, not a computer software’s.”

One recent grad says she would not endorse the technology if she were making the call.

“I think it could get into a lot of sticky situations if you were to allow artificial intelligence,” said Alice Li. “It’s one of those things, if you allow it, what’s next?”

For educators who have seen different technologies disrupt the classroom over the years, it’s just another interesting development.

“It kind of reminded me back in the ’80s, when calculators came out,” said writing centre coordinator Liv Marken. “Then in the ’90s, spell check was scandalous. The internet, everybody’s going to cheat because of the internet. So we go through these phases, and it's really interesting to me.”

But while it’s changing the game for students, Marken says it will likely change things for instructors too.

“I’ve entered my assignment prompts into it, just to see what happens,” she said. “I think instructors are going to have to change assignment prompts in order to have students do more, engage in the writing process and the thinking process a little more.”

Turner says the University is in the process of engaging with students, professors and faculty to make sure tools like ChatGPT can be used to enhance the university experience while maintaining academic integrity.

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