As a higher education instructor, I’ve had my fair share of students buying their essays online or plagiarizing the entire essay via Wikipedia. However, I was not expecting A.I. technology to start taking over the classroom. A few days ago, The New York Times wrote an article regarding ChatGPT in the classroom. ChatGPT is an A.I. technology that articulates answers across several domains of knowledge, basically a technology that can write a student's essay assignment at a superb level. After reading the article, I thought it was only a matter of time before students took it to the next level, but are instructors ready to combat A.I. technology in the classroom? The challenge with A.I. technology like ChatGPT is that it will not stop anytime soon. Instructors don’t need to go against A.I. technology tools like ChatGPT; instead, they need to go beyond traditional essay assignments and start making them personal to the student. Let me provide you with three ways instructors in higher education can go beyond A.I. technology in the classroom.
Don’t Start with Essays
As an instructor, I don’t start with an essay assignment. Instead, I have at least five discussion boards before students write an essay. The discussion board question/s relates to the week's topic and asks the student what they think of the topic or how they would handle the situation. This provides a way for students to think critically about the question and write in their own way; the answers are not “googleable.” The student's response allows me to study the student's writing style. I can’t study all of the student's writing, but it helps me evaluate the student's essay should a red flag comes up with plagiarism.
Keep Strict Rules
Those who teach know there is a process for students who cheat. The process for academic dishonesty for an essay assignment depends on the institution, but it can be lengthy, especially since the student has the right to appeal. If there is evidence of cheating, the student gets a zero for the assignment or, in severe cases, gets expelled from the university. I suggest being upfront with students from the beginning with strict rules on using A.I. software that writes their essays and follows through.
Students are not afraid to push the boundaries, so make sure you are not afraid to enforce the rules. The first offense automatically zeroes, and the second offense takes the student through the academic dishonesty process.
The days of students writing a three-page essay assignment providing a work cited page on a topic they find boring or can easily google are over. If I can google the essay, you can bet Chat GPT has a well-written essay on the topic. One of the courses I teach is American Government. I used to have students write an essay based on The Federalist Papers. I soon realized students could find the answers to the essay prompt on search engines such as Google. I switched the Federalist Papers assignment to a journalistic assignment where the student had to ask any U.S. President, dead or alive, three questions based on their presidency and explain why they asked each question.
I found that students were less likely to plagiarize and put in more thought into their answers because I told them to explain their questions. I suggest every instructor look back at their essay assignments and think about how they can personalize the essay prompt where the student can’t google the answers.
Only some courses in higher education may be able to personalize their essay assignments, and only some courses have essay assignments. But the point is to get students to take control of their thinking and rely less on simply googling the answers. How will your course challenge A.I. technology?
Jay Fulgencio, Ph.D.
Entrepreneurship, Innovation , Creativity | www.jayphd18.com
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