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AI forces teachers to change the way courses are examined

Photo of a mobile phone showing the AI service ChatGPT on the screen.
ChatGPT is one of the AI services used in cheating.

Academic misconduct has increased with about 200% during the past covid years. As a precaution Lund University has started a project to prevent deception and misleading in examination, whether it’s unauthorized cooperation, plagiarism, or non-allowed aids.

In every study environment there is a unique culture, with boundaries to what is considered acceptable and unacceptable by the students themselves. A lot of students are curious about chatGPT. Some try it just to see how it works, others will also try to turn in assignments written by the program. How the teachers respond will determine how the culture of acceptance will develop in the different study environments. To try AI-services like chatGPT for example, could be considered ok if the teachers don't notice it. The project “Misleading in examination” started in September 2022 and will result in support to teachers so that they, in turn, can help students do honest work.

– For a large group of the students, around 80%, it’s a choice to work honorably. A small part of the rest don't know how to work with academic integrity. They don’t understand they are doing something wrong and dishonest when they for example can’t write proper academic references. Then we have a small group that is in fact doing something criminal, said Elin Bommenel, project owner and senior lecturer at the department of service studies.

The effects of cheating on course elements and workload

Elin Bommenel claims that the teacher has two tasks. One is to create fair and safe examination and the other is to teach students to choose what is right.

– Most students want to act honorably and therefore it is now important that the teachers quickly and clearly communicate in what ways chatGPT is allowed to be used, said Benjamin Ekström Todreas, student in mechanical engineering at LTH and part of the project.

The misleading in examination takes a lot of resources from teachers. They need extra support since the AI-cheating means a huge change in how knowledge can be examined and how questions can be asked, but also when it comes to correcting assignments to rule out that any cheating has been committed. That’s why the project will result in material for teachers and lecturers in the form of exercises, videos and quizzes to use together with students. The project will also result in guides on how to write instructions for examinations to make them safe and minimize risk of misleading. Because of this, students can expect different types of examinations in the future.

– The chatbot is best at gathering pure knowledge so examinations where you are asked to stack information and facts needs to be done in school in front of an examiner. Often teachers want to test the ability to understand, analyze, reflect, and use the knowledge on specific cases. That is something the chatbot can’t do, yet. Those examinations can be done at home, as long as the assignment is based on comprehension, said Elin Bommenel.

The second part, teaching students to choose right, is about teaching them the benefits of being honest and making sure that cheating doesn’t pay off. Even if it would be possible to cheat, you shouldn’t gain anything from it.

– Who is the biggest loser? The student. Their education loses its value if they have no knowledge from their years at the university. Students gain two things from our programmes: Knowledge and network. For some, the network is worth more. But the reality is that if students are graduating the university without any knowledge the programmes status among employers will devalue, which in turn will give a bad reputation to the programmes and eventually to Lund University. If I can just say one thing to students that cheat their way through an education it is this: Don’t spend three years attending a university programme if you don’t think the knowledge you get from it is important or useful. If you feel like that, there are plenty of other, better, things to do with those three years. Both for you and for your teachers, said Elin Bommenel.

How does it work?

– ChatGPT (built on OpenAI's GPT-3) was released in the beginning of December 2022 and is a chat bot that runs with the aid of a set of different language models that procedurally generates texts. The bot is programmed with an algorithm that learns. The more information that comes in, and the more it is used, (hopefully) the better it gets, primarily due to the voting function. Right now, it is free and it that can generate texts in Swedish with good quality, said Steve Dahlskog, AI-researcher and senior lecturer in computer science and media technology at Malmö university who is also a part of the project.

The artificial chat robot can understand what’s most important in a text, but it can’t interpret or come to conclusions. It is on the other hand very good at structuring information to be an understandable and well-articulated text.

– It can actually be a very useful educational tool. It can be used to help against writer’s block or to get thoughts going that later can be used in creating your own text. That’s why it is important that the teachers learn how it works and learn how to use it correctly, said Elin Bommenel.

The project will hold workshops in selected pilot groups around misleading in examination and how it can be prevented during 2023 and if they work well, they will be available for all of Lund university during 2024.

Involved in the project

Elin Bommenel
Senior lecturer at the department of Service studies

Read more about Elin and her research –

Steve Dahlskog
AI-researcher and senior lecturer in computer science and media technology at Malmö University

Contact: steve [dot] dahlskog [at] mau [dot] se

Benjamin Ekström Todreas
Student in mechanical engineering at LTH

Contact: ekstromtodreas [at] gmail [dot] com