ChatGPT Threatens Academic Integrity

Lauryn Hayes, Staff Writer

There is no better way to start off the new year than by addressing the robot in the room. Yes, the robot, not the elephant. Let’s talk about it.

Many of us walked into the first day of classes prepared for the usual syllabus review. However, some students may have noticed a new section on their syllabus that was read aloud by their professors about the use of A.I. technologies for academic assignments. At least, I know I did. After studying abroad in the Fall semester, I thought maybe I missed one of Villanova’s many emails regarding the use of tools like this last semester.

The newest A.I. technology, ChatGPT, short for chat generative pre-trained transformer, that was released this past November, has proven to be one of the most intelligent forms of technologies yet, and has shaken the academic community.

To provide more background of its surprising abilities, ChatGPT can hold conversations like a human and answer questions about almost anything. ChatGPT can provide answers ranging from writing emails to questions and prompts for an essay, such as defining terms, providing examples and so on. 

More recently, according to NBC News, a Wharton School professor conducted an MBA exam through ChatGPT, and the A.I. technology scored between a B- and B on the exam, passing with flying colors on what was otherwise a very challenging test for most people. I can not help but feel bad for those spending countless hours studying for their MBA, just for this robot to come along and possibly outscore them. As a student, I am extremely worried about the unfair advantage an A.I such as this provides. 

Beyond this, it is unclear how advancements in A.I. technology will affect me as a Communication major in a similar or different way it might a Computer Science major, for right now at least. But, I will say the more readily used these high-tech robots become, the less we as students as a whole apply and develop the very skill sets we are on this campus to pursue. 

The outstanding abilities of ChatGPT are undeniable and have caused a shift in the academic community at Villanova as well. In conversation with Dr. Randy Weinstein, Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning, he provided meaningful insight behind this new addition to some of our syllabi.

The new section in a few of my courses’ syllabi is a short statement advising against the usage of A.I. technology because it goes against Villanova’s strict academic integrity code. However, it is important to note that there is no University wide ban on the use of A.I. technologies. Incorporating a statement regarding the use of A.I. in a courses’ syllabi is the sole decision of each faculty member, according to Weinstein. Some faculty have chosen to critically analyze ChatGPT. Therefore, there are many different approaches faculty are taking to address this new technology.

My biggest concern with ChatGPT is the threat A.I. technology poses to academic integrity on campus. Every professor should adopt similar policies prohibiting the use of A.I. technologies unless instructed otherwise for a specific assignment or activity- though I can not picture an academic scenario where this would be the case.

The use of ChatGPT not only raises academic integrity concerns but it also threatens our overall academic experience for numerous reasons. First and foremost, sources must be cited for most academic assignments. However, technology like ChatGPT does not provide sources or references and therefore is not the best tool for our many assignments that require citations. There is truly no telling what various academic sources the technology draws upon or whether the information we receive is even factually accurate.

Furthermore, if a student were to copy information from ChatGPT and claim it as their own, if discovered it would undoubtedly be considered plagiarism. In addition, Weinstein mentioned that ChatGPT and other similar technologies do not always provide the most critical and in-depth responses for questions and can confuse what the assignment is asking or what the paper is trying to achieve. In essence, A.I. is cool but don’t be fooled. In the meantime, I encourage everyone to continue doing their own assignments.

With that said, A.I. has both advantages and disadvantages for us in the academic community. It’ll take a long time—at least I hope—before A.I. can completely mimic all forms of human intelligence, with ChatGPT being the newest development on this front.  

Now that the robot has been addressed, I hope everyone double-checks their syllabi.