ChatGPT can help students cheat – but it could also revolutionize education

ChatGPT is one powerful language model developed by OpenAI that has the ability to generate human-like text, enabling it to participate in natural language conversations. This technology has the potential to revolutionize the way we interact with computers, and it has already begun to be integrated into various industries.

However, the implementation of ChatGPT within higher education in the UK presents a number of challenges that need to be carefully considered. If ChatGPT is used to grade assignments or exams, there is a possibility that it may be biased against certain groups of students.

ChatGPT should not be used to replace instructors – but it can make the lessons better.NurPhoto/NurPhoto/Getty Images

For example, ChatGPT may be more likely to award higher grades to students who write in a style with which it is more familiar, potentially leading to unfair grading practices. Additionally, if ChatGPT is used to replace human instructors, it may perpetuate existing inequities in the education system, such as the underrepresentation of certain demographic groups in certain fields of study.

There is also the potential for ChatGPT to be used to cheat on exams or assignments. Being able to generate human-like text, ChatGPT can be used to write entire assignments or essays, making it difficult for teachers to detect cheating.

For example, ChatGPT (which means “generative pre-trained transformer”) might be asked to “write an essay on the challenges that ChatGPT poses to higher education in the UK” In fact, the first four paragraphs of this article were written by ChatGPT in response to this very request.

ChatGPT’s response (and this is your human author writing now) was actually more than four paragraphs long, as it went on to articulate its inability to replicate the expertise and real-world experience that human teachers bring to the classroom. This particular line of inquiry made me both grateful for its concern for my job security and slightly cynical of its Machiavellian design to win me over.

In my research and teaching, I am involved in developing assessment and feedback processes that enrich the student experience while equipping them with the skills they need after graduation.

The truth is, if I looked at 200 papers submitted by first-year students on this topic, I’d probably give ChatGPT’s effort a pass. But far from being concerned about the challenges this AI program may present, I see this instead as an opportunity to improve the way we assess learning in higher education.

The upside of AI

Teachers in the future can use ChatGPT to develop assessments.clu/DigitalVision Vectors/Getty Images

For me, the big challenge ChatGPT presents is one I should consider anyway: How can I make my reviews more authentic – meaningful, useful and relevant? Authentic assessments are designed to measure students’ knowledge and skills in a way that is specifically suited to their own lives and future careers.

These assessments often involve tasks or activities that closely mirror the challenges students may face in real life, and require them to apply knowledge and skills in a practical or problem-solving context. Specific examples might be asking a group of engineering students to collaborate on a societal issue as part of the Engineers without Borders challenge or inviting environmental science students to curate an art exhibition in a local gallery that explores the local impact of the climate crisis.

While there will always be a need for essays and written assignments—especially in the humanities, where they are essential to helping students develop a critical voice—do we really need all students to write the same essays and answer the same questions? Can we instead give them autonomy and agency and thereby help make their assessments more interesting, inclusive and ultimately authentic?

As teachers, we can even use ChatGPT directly to help us develop such assessments. So, instead of asking the question that started this article, I could instead present ChatGPT’s answer alongside some marking instructions and ask them to provide a critique of what grade the automated answer deserves and why.

Such an assessment will be much more difficult to plagiarize. It will also invite students to develop their critical thinking and feedback skills, both of which are essential when they graduate to the workforce, regardless of their occupation. Alternatively, ChatGPT can be used to generate scenario-based tasks that require students to analyze and solve problems they may face in their future careers.

This feels like a Pandora’s box moment for assessment in higher education. Whether we decide to embrace ChatGPT in our quest for authentic assessment or passively acknowledge the ethical dilemmas it can pose for academic integrity, there is a real opportunity here. This can help us to reflect on how we assess our students and why this may need to change. Or, in AI’s own words:

ChatGPT can be a useful tool for creating authentic assessments, but it will still be up to the instructor to design and implement the assessment in a way that is meaningful and relevant to their students.

The sophistication and capability of AI technologies is accelerating. Instead of reacting with fear, we need to find and embrace the positive. Doing so will help us think about how we can specifically tailor assessment to students and provide better and more creative support for their learning.

This article was originally published on The conversation of Sam Illingworth on Edinburgh Napier University. Read the original article here.

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