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Student Survey: Stanford University Students Used ChatGPT to Cheat on Finals
Plus, the race to catch GPT. Plus, news from University of Oklahoma. Plus, an important note about journalism and misconduct. Plus, ChatGPT can pass a Wharton MBA exam? Maybe.
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Survey: Stanford Students Used ChatGPT on Finals
Reporting from the school newspaper at Stanford University has an entirely predictable, yet perhaps alarming, headline:
Scores of Stanford students used ChatGPT on final exams, survey suggests
Frankly, I’m not too alarmed because this is the new normal. I’d wager that every school in the country has already had students submit ChatGPT for course and assessment work. I’d wager further that, at every single school, many of those submissions have gone undetected, with grades and credit assigned accordingly.
I’m simply not surprised anymore.
Second, the survey that the story rests on is not great. From the reporting:
according to an informal poll conducted by The Daily, a large number of students have already used ChatGPT on their final exams.
I think that’s true. I do not think this survey is an accurate way to show it. Nonetheless, the story says:
According to the poll, which had 4,497 respondents (though the number may be inflated) and was open from Jan. 9 to Jan. 15, around 17% of Stanford student respondents reported using ChatGPT to assist with their fall quarter assignments and exams.
Only about 5% [of that 17%] reported having submitted written material directly from ChatGPT with little to no edits, according to the poll.
Though nearly 30% of that 17% said they used ChatGPT to answer multiple choice exam questions.
More interesting to me is this nugget:
According to another informal poll conducted by The Daily on the same app, a majority of student respondents believe that the use of ChatGPT to assist with assignments is currently or should be a violation of the Honor Code.
The majority, in this case, was about 74%, if my math is right.
Survey aside, the idea that Stanford students were using ChatGPT to cheat is substantiated by several professors discussing on a public chat that some materials submitted by students were actually created by ChatGPT. One computer science professor reportedly wrote:
“In this case,” wrote [the professor], “it was easy to tell because part of the submission included: ‘As a large language model trained by OpenAI…’”
To which a colleague responded:
that the student’s submission was “like robbing a bank and caring so little about being caught that you try to take a selfie with the security camera on the way out.”
A final note from the Stanford story is that it reports that Washington University in St. Louis and University of Vermont in Burlington have amended their integrity policies to include AI-generated text. No such decision has been reached at Stanford, it says.
The New Race to Catch ChatGPT and a New EdSurge Podcast
A brilliant and witty and reliably modest writer penned this article at Forbes on the race to help teachers and schools find ChatGPT. I don’t know how long this race will last but the winner(s) are sure to do well financially, as I cannot envision too many schools being completely blind to this new generation of academic shortcut.
Well, I can.
I just cannot imagine why any would choose to be.
Speaking of that brilliant writer, he was also interviewed for the just released EdSurge podcast by Jeffrey Young, covering - you cannot possibly imagine - ChatGPT and cheating.
The article along with the podcast is good in that it catches much of the sentiment among educators about this new normal. Quoting leaders at Texas State University, one professor there said:
“The other prevailing mood is terror, thinking ‘This throws everything that I do into chaos. How am I supposed to catch it?’”
Which conveniently links back to the Forbes story up top. Teachers are going to need help. They already do.
Journalism and Academic Integrity, A Quick and Important Note
The piece is about misconduct in research, which is a topic I generally avoid. I think it exists on its own.
In any case, the piece contains an important point in a quote from Sarah Elaine Eaton, the frequent writer and commentator on academic integrity, from the University of Calgary. She’s quoted as saying:
“In the research that I’ve done, we found that often journalists act as an early alert system for things like academic misconduct trends,” she says. “And if it’s investigative journalism on one incident or a couple of incidents, that may signal a larger problem.”
I’m not sure if I’m a journalist in this context. But I sure feel as though I am sounding the alarm as loudly and as frequently as anyone can. I am, as she put it, signaling a larger problem.
More importantly, this is why the coverage of academic integrity and misconduct matters so much. Media outlets that don’t cover the issue, or cover it badly or actively dismiss it, are not just abandoning their posts, their inaction makes a serious problem worse. And to be clear, some outlets simply do not cover academic integrity, as a de-facto policy.
Challenges to academic integrity are large and entrenched and highly profitable for some. They’re also, with zero exaggeration, an existential threat to organized education. Creating journalism on this topic, discussing it, keeping it visible is essential - I do not have a better word for it.
Finally, we all owe a massive debt to student journalists and student newspapers. I don’t have a precise number, but my sense is that 75% of what we know about contemporary academic integrity, we know because students report it. We’d be even more deeply in the dark without their collective efforts.
Since We’re Here, Another Fun Cheating Headline
Accountancy Age, which you may have guessed, covers the accounting and auditing marketplace, ran a piece this week on cheating. The headline:
Exam cheating can become a ‘big issue’ if not appropriately addressed
Also, did they just say it “can become” a big issue?
In the last 18 months or so, nearly every big accounting firm has been fined or otherwise sanctioned for allowing, sometimes enabling, employees to cheat on required licensing and certification exams. Even exams on ethics were cheated. It’s been literally more than one hundred millions of dollars in fines already.
So, I think they’re right. If not properly addressed, organized exam cheating by accountants can become a big issue. You know, maybe.
Two News and Note Items about Our Friend, CheatGPT
Here are two more quick little bits about ChatGPT.
One, so far at least, instructors at the University of Oklahoma have not moved to block ChatGPT, according to this report from the school paper. The report says the University of Florida has also, so far, not taken that step. It also quotes a professor at Oklahoma about the quality of ChatGPT work:
“ChatGPT got the essay right but in the more surface-level, uninteresting, banal and superficial way possible, in a coherent structure of language that was understandable, but at the same time showed absolutely zero deep understanding or engagement,” [the professor] said.
That sounds right.
Second is that, ChatGPT can now apparently pass a Wharton MBA exam. At least that’s according to this tweet:
I did not see a link, which means, take it for what it’s worth. But it does not seem implausible.