Cheating and ChatGPT:

Over at NPR Patrick Wood and Mary Louise Kelly tells us that “Everybody is cheating’: Why this teacher has adopted an open ChatGPT policy.” Some school districts have banned ChatGPT’s use, as it can write poetry, computer code, and even pass an MBA exam (it got a B-minus).

Earlier this year, 22-year-old Princeton student Edward Tian, who believes that the technology is remarkable but requires safeguards, created an app to detect if something had been written by a machine. Named GPTZero, it was so popular that when he launched it, the app originally crashed from overuse.

Tian was helped by OpenAI’s Github Copilot, a generative AI code-writer.

On the Other Hand

We don’t expect students to do pencil-and-paper arithmetic any more. Calculators have long since been part of the accepted curriculum. Perhaps this is how we should view ChatGPT. At least some professors are taking the attitude with ChatGPT that if you can’t beat them, join them. Rather than quixotically banning students from using the technology, Ethan Mollick, associate professor at University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, suggests that we should be teaching them how to use the new tool. He makes using ChatGPT a course requirement.

The truth is, I probably couldn’t have stopped them even if I didn’t require it.

Silas Allen, in This artificial intelligence program can write in seconds. Should Fort Worth schools allow it? provides a similar story of conflict and uncertainty about how to use ChatGPT in the schoolroom. He writes that while the the Fort Worth Independent School District is concerned about ChatGPT’s use, they don’t believe a total ban of the technology is the solution. Some even claim the technology may help teach students how to improve their writing.

Western Hills High School English teacher Michael Sank is cautiously optimistic, pointing out, “If a kid turned in graduate-level work tomorrow… some alarm bells would go off.”

Debate coach Joe Uhler, also at Western Hills, states that the technology might be useful as a way of providing a structure or roadmap for students preparing a speech.

So far, school districts including Detroit, Chicago, and Maryland’s Prince George’s County have not banned ChatGPT, but school districts in Los Angeles, New York City, and Baltimore have (“New York City schools blocked ChatGPT. Here’s what other large districts are doing“).

Reminiscent of findings over at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, in ChatGPT Goes to Law School, Jonathan H. Choi, Kristin E. Hickman, Amy Monahan and Daniel Schwarcz report on using ChatGPT to create answers for exams at the University of Minnesota Law School. The test materials were over ninety-five multiple choice questions and twelve essay questions, and ChatGPT received a C+, a passing grade (at least for now). 

So lawyers seem safe, for now. Professional chefs also need not worry. Allen reports that ChatGPT is not yet ready to take over Julia Child’s role. When asked to produce a recipe for Texas chili, its recipe simultaneously called for kidney beans but also stated that Texas chili is made with beef and no beans, a response that is at best a D+.