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posted by hubie on Thursday March 02 2023, @04:02AM   Printer-friendly

Students say they are getting 'screwed over' for sticking to the rules. Professors say students are acting like 'tyrants.' Then came ChatGPT:

When it was time for Sam Beyda, then a freshman at Columbia University, to take his Calculus I midterm, the professor told students they had 90 minutes.

But the exam would be administered online. And even though every student was expected to take it alone, in their dorms or apartments or at the library, it wouldn't be proctored. And they had 24 hours to turn it in.

"Anyone who hears that knows it's a free-for-all," Beyda told me.

[...] For decades, campus standards have been plummeting. The hallowed, ivy-draped buildings, the stately quads, the timeless Latin mottos—all that tradition and honor have been slipping away. That's an old story. Then Covid struck and all bets were off. With college kids doing college from their bedrooms and smartphones, and with the explosion of new technology, cheating became not just easy but practically unavoidable. "Cheating is rampant," a Princeton senior told me. "Since Covid there's been an increasing trend toward grade inflation, cheating, and ultimately, academic mediocrity."

Now that students are back on campus, colleges are having a hard time putting the genie back in the bottle. Remote testing combined with an array of tech tools—exam helpers like Chegg, Course Hero, Quizlet, and Coursera; messaging apps like GroupMe and WhatsApp; Dropbox folders containing course material from years past; and most recently, ChatGPT, the AI that can write essays—have permanently transformed the student experience.

[...] On January 2, a Princeton University computer science major named Edward Tian—who may be the most hated man on campus—tweeted: "I spent New Years building GPTZero—an app that can quickly and efficiently detect whether an essay is ChatGPT or human written."

So now it's nerd vs. nerd, and one of the nerds is going to win—probably whoever gets more venture funding. Everything is up in the air.


Original Submission

Related Stories

ChatGPT Arrives in the Academic World 4 comments

ChatGPT arrives in the academic world:

AI art and text generators are all the rage right now. As an academic, I've seen an uptick in colleagues issuing warnings about students using tools like ChatGPT to create assignments, but I haven't yet really done too much investigation—I've been too busy grading final papers! But I recently came across two posts by academics that somewhat relieve the immediate worry about students successfully using ChatGPT to write their papers, and also raise challenges for educators about what we are actually doing in our classrooms.

First, here's Dan Vollaro's 'conversation' with ChatGPT about Moby Dick. Vollaro is an Associate Professor of English with a PhD in 19th Century American literature, and tries to discuss Melville's famous novel with the bot. While ChatGPT does pretty well at first—providing facts about when the novel was written, how it was received, and even some of the major themes that scholars have identified in the text—it fails spectacularly when asked which scholars were responsible for discussing and circulating those themes, or when asked to provide its own analysis or critique of the novel. In a series of frustrating back-and-forths, the bot repeats almost the same answer to various questions from Vollaro. When Vollaro asks: "Do you have a favorite character from the novel?" The bot answers:

As a language model, I don't have personal experiences or opinions, so I don't have a favorite character from Moby Dick. I'm here to provide accurate and helpful information based on the text data I've been trained on, but I don't have personal preferences or biases. I'm a neutral and objective source of information, and I'm always happy to help with any questions you have about the novel.

Seattle Public Schools Bans ChatGPT; District ‘Requires Original Thought and Work From Students’ 18 comments

Seattle Public Schools is joining a growing number of school districts banning ChatGPT, the natural language chatbot from OpenAI that has sparked widespread attention in recent weeks.

ChatGPT has garnered praise for its ability to quickly answer complex queries and instantly produce content.

But it's also generating concern among educators worried that students will use the technology to do their homework.

SPS blocked ChatGPT on all school devices in December, said Tim Robinson, a spokesman for Seattle Public Schools, in an email to GeekWire.

"Like all school districts, Seattle Public Schools does not allow cheating and requires original thought and work from students," he said.

The district also blocks other "cheating tools," Robinson said.

Original Submission

Amid ChatGPT Outcry, Some Teachers are Inviting AI to Class 3 comments

Under the fluorescent lights of a fifth grade classroom in Lexington, Kentucky, Donnie Piercey instructed his 23 students to try and outwit the "robot" that was churning out writing assignments:

The robot was the new artificial intelligence tool ChatGPT, which can generate everything from essays and haikus to term papers within seconds. The technology has panicked teachers and prompted school districts to block access to the site. But Piercey has taken another approach by embracing it as a teaching tool, saying his job is to prepare students for a world where knowledge of AI will be required.

"This is the future," said Piercey, who describes ChatGPT as just the latest technology in his 17 years of teaching that prompted concerns about the potential for cheating. The calculator, spellcheck, Google, Wikipedia, YouTube. Now all his students have Chromebooks on their desks. "As educators, we haven't figured out the best way to use artificial intelligence yet. But it's coming, whether we want it to or not."

The article goes on to describe different exercises Piercey uses and comments from other teachers who are using ChatGPT to enhance their lessons.

[...] The fifth graders seemed unaware of the hype or controversy surrounding ChatGPT. For these children, who will grow up as the world's first native AI users, their approach is simple: Use it for suggestions, but do your own work.


Original Submission

Some Teachers Are Now Using ChatGPT to Grade Papers 68 comments

In a notable shift toward sanctioned use of AI in schools, some educators in grades 3–12 are now using a ChatGPT-powered grading tool called Writable, reports Axios. The tool, acquired last summer by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, is designed to streamline the grading process, potentially offering time-saving benefits for teachers. But is it a good idea to outsource critical feedback to a machine?
"Make feedback more actionable with AI suggestions delivered to teachers as the writing happens," Writable promises on its AI website. "Target specific areas for improvement with powerful, rubric-aligned comments, and save grading time with AI-generated draft scores." The service also provides AI-written writing-prompt suggestions: "Input any topic and instantly receive unique prompts that engage students and are tailored to your classroom needs."
The reliance on AI for grading will likely have drawbacks. Automated grading might encourage some educators to take shortcuts, diminishing the value of personalized feedback. Over time, the augmentation from AI may allow teachers to be less familiar with the material they are teaching. The use of cloud-based AI tools may have privacy implications for teachers and students. Also, ChatGPT isn't a perfect analyst. It can get things wrong and potentially confabulate (make up) false information, possibly misinterpret a student's work, or provide erroneous information in lesson plans.
there's a divide among parents regarding the use of AI in evaluating students' academic performance. A recent poll of parents revealed mixed opinions, with nearly half of the respondents open to the idea of AI-assisted grading.

As the generative AI craze permeates every space, it's no surprise that Writable isn't the only AI-powered grading tool on the market. Others include Crowdmark, Gradescope, and EssayGrader. McGraw Hill is reportedly developing similar technology aimed at enhancing teacher assessment and feedback.

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  • (Score: 5, Funny) by Adam on Thursday March 02 2023, @05:05AM (2 children)

    by Adam (2168) on Thursday March 02 2023, @05:05AM (#1294010)

    Curses on those newfangled calculators too. Kids these days can't even do long division in their head.

    • (Score: 5, Interesting) by Runaway1956 on Thursday March 02 2023, @06:58AM (1 child)

      by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Thursday March 02 2023, @06:58AM (#1294020) Journal

      One of those kids modded you a troll. He probably can't conceive of long division, and knew it had to be a troll term.

      ‘Never trust a man whose uncle was eaten by cannibals’
      • (Score: 4, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 02 2023, @09:58AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 02 2023, @09:58AM (#1294036)

        long division is where it takes extra time to punch all of the numbers into the calculator everyone knows this

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by driverless on Thursday March 02 2023, @07:57AM (1 child)

    by driverless (4770) on Thursday March 02 2023, @07:57AM (#1294022)

    It's a nasty catch-22, no matter how good a student you may be you have to cheat as well just to keep up with the other cheaters.

    • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Thursday March 02 2023, @09:24PM

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Thursday March 02 2023, @09:24PM (#1294139)

      I wonder, though... 99% of what I do for work would have been labeled "cheating" in school in the 1970s and 80s.

      Researching through Google, then copy-pasting the relevant information out: blatant plagarism, even if you referenced the source in 1988 you were supposed to regurgitate it in your own words. Today? I'd much rather get the direct quote (along with the source) thank you, maybe you can write a little executive summary at the top of the report, but keep it short, damn short, if you will please. A five page dissertation on just about any topic is rarely worth the time and attention required to read and understand it.

      Circuit design starting from the manufacturers' reference designs, then modifying as little as possible to get the desired functionality... again, cheating. Would be nice to demonstrate your deep understanding of all the issues, but even the manufacturer may not understand why 3mm trace spacing works better than 2.5 or 3.5mm spacing, they may not even mention that 3mm is optimal when they use it in the reference design, and are you really adding any value by launching a 60 hour investigation into the topic? Granted, some reference designs suck, particularly in the software back in the 90s, and should be improved upon, but if the reference example is meeting all your specs, what are you trying to prove again?

      Human relations? Genuine empathy is good, but in the professional world I believe: Stick To The Script is the preferred mode of operation - act just like every other HR drone and you'll deliver optimal results with minimal risk to the company. In other words: copy what your best HR drone does to the best of your ability and you'll be good.

      Sure, there's reverse engineering, outright IP theft, and other forms of professional cheating which are illegal and not to be practiced (by reputable firms), but the bulk of work done in regular firms is best done by knowing what to copy when and delivering those copies as close to the source material as possible in almost all situations.

      🌻🌻 []
  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 02 2023, @09:47AM (8 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 02 2023, @09:47AM (#1294033)

    Uni used to have two distinct types of exams. Closed book by the numbers (multi choice, short answer, and a longer answer question at the end), Open book (if you don't know it by now you are screwed)

    Most exams were of the first type. Almost anyone could pass if they studied a bit, passed the pracs, and attended the lectures.
    Some were of the second type. Usually for topics for which you had to know the material. No amount of books would help.

    Is it that hard? If they wanted to the university can change to open book style in a proctored state. How is this no longer effective?

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by canopic jug on Thursday March 02 2023, @09:55AM (1 child)

      by canopic jug (3949) Subscriber Badge on Thursday March 02 2023, @09:55AM (#1294035) Journal

      Some of it comes down to the administrations forcing faculty members to "give better grades" rather than improve the quality of students and hold them to a high standard. Further in that direction, the administrators have been active in suppressing enforcement of anti-cheating policies and not giving out any punishments or even reprimands despite severe infractions. In short the administrators were conditioning the student body to cheat. Then there is pressure from social control media, especially Tiktok, to excel at cheating. Combine all that preparation with the teaching situation forced by the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic and you quickly cross the tipping point the article has covered.

      Money is not free speech. Elections should not be auctions.
      • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 02 2023, @10:13AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 02 2023, @10:13AM (#1294042)

        we had some of this but it was not so blatant
        people paid a lot of money to attend uni and it was expected that at least 50% of the class had to pass

        one of my classes was just terrible with a lecturer from overseas who barely spoke english who liked to rant about his fav topics and just could not deliver material
        many people somehow got a pass as long as they did the pracs and had turned up to lectures
        years later when it came to storing my uni books a review of the material showed that it was not as bad as I recalled and the course was almost entirely in the book which leads me to think people passed just by learning from the book and in many cases just being about to reference the right words and phrases from the book
        even the really good people had negative comments about the lecturer and the course but really most people just wanted to get their piece of paper and get out to the world

        so many people cheat but are they getting ahead or cheating themselves?

    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Thexalon on Thursday March 02 2023, @12:27PM (5 children)

      by Thexalon (636) on Thursday March 02 2023, @12:27PM (#1294055)

      Another thing that used to be more common than it is now was an oral exam. You'd go into the prof's office, them and their colleagues would ask you questions, and decide based on how you answered how much of a clue you had about what you were talking about. The trouble is, that's more subjective and time-consuming than other methods, so it has fallen into disuse.

      But also: We've gotten away from the idea that the purpose of education is to actually learn things. Getting good grades is great and all, but what's more important is that you have a clue about whatever subject you're supposed to be studying. It's entirely possible for someone to take away the sheet of paper that says I have a degree, or destroy the records of my GPA, but getting the knowledge I gained out of my head is a lot harder.

      The only thing that stops a bad guy with a compiler is a good guy with a compiler.
      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by helel on Thursday March 02 2023, @03:26PM (1 child)

        by helel (2949) on Thursday March 02 2023, @03:26PM (#1294078)

        It's really down to profit motive. On the one hand students are paying customers so, by and large, they need to pass in order to get the piece of paper they're paying for. By itself this isn't even much of a problem. The students need to pass. They'll do what is required of them, even if it's hard.

        Maximizing profits, however, don't just require delivering the degree at the end of four or six or however many years. It requires cutting costs wherever you can. Sure, oral exams are subjective and therefore biased but sit one student down with one proctor and one written exam and their ability to cheat is almost none, bare bribery of a grad student. Sitting each student down for two hours with a real human watching them is expensive though. Better to have one proctor for a 200 person lecture hall, when I went to university. Better still to have a website that totally will stop cheating and administers tests to a thousand students at a time.

        And of course at the same time every question you ask a student needs to be a strait forward fact or simple answer so a computer can judge it (in)correct. The kind of open ended questions that require understanding and can be administered open-book? Those require a human to grade and paying humans to read every students test and mark it is, once again, expensive.

        • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Thexalon on Thursday March 02 2023, @09:44PM

          by Thexalon (636) on Thursday March 02 2023, @09:44PM (#1294144)

          And that simply is yet another reason to add academia to my mental list of "organizations that exist that should not be run like a business". Which also includes governments, charities, organized religious groups, and a bunch of other things.

          An awful lot of harm seems to stem from treating non-businesses as businesses.

          The only thing that stops a bad guy with a compiler is a good guy with a compiler.
      • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Thursday March 02 2023, @09:35PM (2 children)

        by JoeMerchant (3937) on Thursday March 02 2023, @09:35PM (#1294142)

        The oral exam is a test of several things, and probably lowest on that list is mastery of the subject material.

        How do you present yourself? Calm cool collected confident but not cocky? 5 Cs for a 5/5 rating there.

        How well do you immediately grasp the nuances of what the oral examiner is asking? This is a real-time communication skill which, while essential to most jobs, is not really related to the subject of the test. This can be very clearly demonstrated with language / accent / cultural barriers between the examiner and the examinee.

        Thinking on your feet... real-time making connections in a high stress brief examination window. Is this how the knowledge is to be used after graduation? Will you be doing engineering as performance art on a stage, or will you be cross referencing source texts, calculating, simulating on computer, consulting with colleagues in adjacent fields, etc.? Occasionally I'll be tempted to do "software development as performance art" by coding in front of an audience, but unless it is something I have specifically practiced many times before, I'll decline to do it for an audience. First pass through a novel problem almost never yields an optimal, or even functional, solution. Best to do those iterations off the stage and present once the code has been tested, reviewed, refined, etc. I'm rarely paid to duplicate things that already exist, so most of my work can't (or at least shouldn't) be done as performance art.

        The oral exam makes excellent sense for trial lawyers, it is a strong parallel to how they will use their skills in practice. Personally, I'm more than ready for lawyers and first-round judges to be replaced by AI... let the humans work the appeals. As for the rest of the world, do you really want to work like a lawyer: bamboozling a jury into seeing things your way?

        🌻🌻 []
        • (Score: 2) by Thexalon on Friday March 03 2023, @01:01PM (1 child)

          by Thexalon (636) on Friday March 03 2023, @01:01PM (#1294257)

          Oral exams are still used occasionally, e.g. thesis defenses.

          And yes, sometimes you do need to use what you know in real-time. For instance, when I'm working, sometimes I'm meeting with colleagues trying to solve a problem, and being able to think up viable solutions and/or problems with a proposed solution on the fly is incredibly valuable. Especially if the problem I'm trying to address is "our production systems are down, we need to figure out how to get them working again as quickly as possible, you have 10 minutes, go."

          And the same would go with engineering: Yes, you'll have to go back and re-check your math, but there's also value in using estimations and experience to get to a variety of proposed solutions to sit down and calculate out. Or a question I'm sure you'll get all the time: "Does this approach to the problem seem plausible?" And being able to answer either "I'll have to recheck the figures, but likely yes" or "No, that doesn't make any sense, let's try something else" is a very useful ability.

          Or let's say you go the completely academic route. And you're at a conference, giving your paper, and someone asks you about an aspect of what you were talking about that you hadn't thought of in advance. Yes, that's when you'll need to be able to "perform, on stage".

          I get that that doesn't work as well with some styles of thinking, but it is something you will probably be called upon to do if you're a bona fide certified expert in any field.

          The only thing that stops a bad guy with a compiler is a good guy with a compiler.
          • (Score: 3, Insightful) by JoeMerchant on Friday March 03 2023, @01:24PM

            by JoeMerchant (3937) on Friday March 03 2023, @01:24PM (#1294261)

            >being able to think up viable solutions and/or problems with a proposed solution on the fly is incredibly valuable

            I have been working in the field for over 30 years now... I would say instead: being able to think up viable solutions and/or problems with a proposed solution on the fly is incredibly impressive, and rare. What is equally valuable IMO is staying engaged with the issue and thinking up or otherwise finding solutions and problems with solutions over the next day or so. On the fly solutions invariably require refinements / are rarely optimal, and often end up being nonviable when working on groundbreaking projects.

            That continued attention to an issue is yet another valuable asset destroyed by keeping your best people engaged in back to back meetings about diverse issues all day long. The diverse perspectives have value sometimes, but are even more often just mutually distracting.

            >let's say you go the completely academic route.

            There is more value to impressive performance art there, since teaching is essentially stagecraft. On the other hand, lecture hall teaching is usually imparting well practiced wisdom of the ages, not breaking new ground. Back in research academics, stagecraft is really only valuable when presenting to potential investors. Traditional grants are delivered and evaluated in writing, not so much like on Shark Tank.

            🌻🌻 []
  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Rosco P. Coltrane on Thursday March 02 2023, @10:48AM

    by Rosco P. Coltrane (4757) on Thursday March 02 2023, @10:48AM (#1294044)

    I'm close enough to the end of my career that it doesn't really matter anymore. But I'll tell you what: selfishly, anything that lowers the standard of today's degrees raises the value of mine. And it's not new either: standards have been going down for decades, and I know for a fact that recruiters are more impressed with the diplomas delivered by my alma mater from the year I got mine than the same ones delivered 10, 15 or 20 years later. In other words, the value of my degree increases steadily as the standard of the same degree gets lower year after year. Post-COVID tech-driven sub-par teaching and cheating just makes this debasing process exponentially faster.

    Of course, it doesn't matter for me anymore really: what gets me hired these days is solely the thickness of my resume. Still, even decades later, the degrees I hold are a source of pride to me: they were hard to get and I worked my ass off to get em. Whereas I'd be ashamed to flash the same degrees from the past 10 years.

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by MonkeypoxBugChaser on Thursday March 02 2023, @01:40PM (1 child)

    by MonkeypoxBugChaser (17904) on Thursday March 02 2023, @01:40PM (#1294065) Homepage Journal

    People aren't actually learning, they are just doing rote tasks to fulfill an arbitrary quota. It starts young and continues all the way to university.

    You're being prepared to be a good worker drone by most of your courses. It's not some secret or conspiracy. On top of that, you get skin in the game with all of the debt.

    The industry is butthurt because they are unable to make you submit. That's really all this is about.

    Tell me how much you still remember about topics you didn't intentionally try to learn about?

    • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 02 2023, @03:28PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 02 2023, @03:28PM (#1294079)

      Most topics require practice and homework is practice. People seem to think that all they need to do is watch a YouTube video or two to get the idea and then move on. No, you need to work at it and do the problems. That is true in math, that is true in foreign languages, that is true in sports, musical instruments, etc. Watching that YouTube video, or even reading that chapter or listening to that lecture is all fine and good until you have to actually use it.

  • (Score: 5, Touché) by tangomargarine on Thursday March 02 2023, @04:37PM (2 children)

    by tangomargarine (667) on Thursday March 02 2023, @04:37PM (#1294092)

    India. Go look it up. []

    "Is that really true?" "I just spent the last hour telling you to think for yourself! Didn't you hear anything I said?"
    • (Score: 3, Informative) by Reziac on Friday March 03 2023, @03:47AM (1 child)

      by Reziac (2489) on Friday March 03 2023, @03:47AM (#1294197) Homepage
      And there is no Alkibiades to come back and save us from ourselves.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 05 2023, @09:23AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 05 2023, @09:23AM (#1294588)

        that is just terrible