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Universities in Australia Change Policies Due to AI Cheating Threats
Plus, ECU, policy and Purdue. Plus, hold a second on that Princeton student's anti-GPT app.
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“Group of Eight” Major Universities in Australia Change Assessment, Integrity Policies Over AI Threats
According to reporting in The Guardian, Australia’s leading universities have already altered their policies on assessments and academic integrity in response to the threats posed by AI-generated text tools.
The article includes:
The group’s deputy chief executive, Dr Matthew Brown, said its institutions were “proactively tackling” AI through student education, staff training, redesigning assessments and targeted technological and other detection strategies.
Targeted tech and other detection strategies. Interesting. Brown was quoted as saying:
“Our universities have revised how they will run assessments in 2023, including supervised exams … greater use of pen and paper exams and tests … and tests only for units with low integrity risks.”
I’m not really sure what a unit with a low integrity risk is, but cool. Doing something is better than doing nothing.
Reported further is:
The University of Sydney’s latest academic integrity policy now specifically mentions “generating content using artificial intelligence” as a form of cheating.
Toby Walsh, Scientia professor of artificial intelligence at the University of New South Wales, said teachers were in “crisis meetings” about how exams would be marked in the new year and whether protocols were in place to deal with plagiarism.
“People are already using it to submit essays,” he said.
They are indeed doing that.
The article also mentions:
Flinders University was one of the first in Australia to implement a specific policy against computer-generated cheating.
Counting those in Australia now, several schools are moving to be sure the use of AI-generated materials is included in their academic integrity policies (see Issue 179). More schools will unquestionably follow.
The article uses the misplaced calculator analogy, which I personally cannot wait to see fade away. And it compares the responses to ChatGPT to an arms race, which is pretty accurate.
Nonetheless, I think the proactivity in Australia is important. As is their move to modify testing formats where possible. I expect other schools to do that too.
East Carolina, Policy and Purdue
The student paper at East Carolina University ran a story a few days ago titled, “Top 3 Apps for Studying in College.” And, wouldn’t you just know it, the apps the author recommends are Chegg, Quizlet and Socratic - three horsemen of academic misconduct.
Using notes to study, the article says, can be “tedious” or even “not useful” - so, good thing there are these cool apps that:
make studying for assessments more convenient and less boring.
The article does say:
It is never okay to use these apps, or others like these, to cheat on assessments or assignments.
That part is true. Although it also says:
These apps have safeguards to prevent students from using their app to cheat during an exam.
That part is not true. And note - “during an exam.”
It’s a really, really remarkable offering that includes such genuine journalism gems as:
Chegg takes academic integrity seriously
Sure it does.
I have no idea how it came to be written or published, though I could guess. And if I suddenly found myself a Dean at ECU, I’d sure want to know.
After reading the article, I bounced over to look at ECU’s academic integrity policy, which I think is what’s linked. It says it’s the “University Faculty Manual” so I’m not sure, even though it’s linked - the only link - from the school’s “Policies and Procedures” page. So, that’s a tad confusing. Even so, the policy itself is pretty good.
It says, for example, that:
The Academic Integrity Regulation also applies to student violations discovered after the student has completed the course, has left the University, or has graduated. Depending on the circumstances of the case, degree revocation may be a consequence
Wow. That’s great. And not accepted as normal everywhere (see Issue 156). Personally, I think this potential consequence, properly explained and understood and used, could be a powerful deterrent.
The policy’s definitions seem clear. Cheating, it says, is:
Unauthorized aid or assistance or the giving or receiving of unfair advantage on any form of academic work
It also has the Course Hero provision banning students from:
distributing test questions or examination materials without permission from the faculty member teaching the course
Good stuff. And this bit, I just love:
AIVs [violations] are unfair to honest students and they damage the quality and reputation of the entire university. Thus, the University places obligations on students and community members to report information on AIVs based on the principle that ignoring AIVs is as problematic as actively committing an AIV.
The policy seems to require proctoring exams, though it’s not clear that this applies to all exams or just those done in a classroom. If online exams are exempt, that’s a serious problem.
And ECU seems to require faculty and staff to report even “suspected” violations, with no exception. Seriously, it’s long. But it’s quite good. I wish it mentioned cheating providers such as Chegg and Course Hero by name, as some do, but it’s still quite strong.
But then, in bouncing around ECU’s academic integrity pages, I came across this page for “Faculty & Staff.” Under the section “Upholding Academic Integrity - Faculty Resources,” it directs ECU faculty to material from the “Purdue Online Writing Lab.”
I know some of you are already laughing.
For those who don’t know, Purdue University’s writing lab actively partners with Chegg. No, really. Since February 2019.
That Purdue would partner with Chegg to teach writing is embarrassing. That ECU would direct their faculty there is - not great either. And it speaks to how deeply and insidiously cheating providers are intertwined with universities. ECU’s student paper promotes Chegg and other cheating profiteers and suggests its faculty use resources from the Purdue writing center, which partners with Chegg - under the headline of “Upholding Academic Integrity” no less.
Finally, so as to be fair, before writing this I checked in with Purdue to see if their partnership with Chegg was still on, that Purdue was still on board to “integrate Chegg’s Writing tools” in their official writing lab.
A Purdue spokesperson wrote back. This was his entire response:
That Princeton Student’s ChatGPT App - Hold on a Second
In the last Issue of The Cheat Sheet, I shared in “Quick Bites” that a student at Princeton University said he’d designed an app that could detect ChatGPT. There was a reason I made it only a little mention instead of a big story.
News out this week from Futurist says that the student’s app has issues - accuracy issues. Honestly, the story reads like I wrote it. Though, complete disclosure, I did not.
Futurist basically details how some major media outlets ran with this idea of the student cracking ChatGPT without actually checking. But Futurist did. The subhead of their article is:
The media seized on a good story, but the numbers don't add up.
I’m not going to knock this student’s effort. The more people we have engaged in trying to deter and detect potential misconduct, the better. It’s the media that got this one wrong. Or at least out of proportion.