ChatGPT not the cheating wingman you need, Manitoba colleges, universities warn

Artificial intelligence (A.I.) is becoming more accessible to students and Manitoba colleges are taking proactive measures to combat the potential of A.I.-assisted cheating.

ChatGPT is a new A.I. that has the ability to write in-depth essays in record time. It significantly reduces research time and makes writing assignments as easy as a quick copy and paste, making it an attractive tool for cheaters.

According to Academic Integrity Specialist at the University of Manitoba, Francois Jordaan, the use of A.I. in academics is not entirely off-limits for students.

“I mean post-secondary environment is, it’s about knowledge and about curiosity,” he said.

“If they reference ChatGPT and they are allowed to do so, then that would be okay but if they are trying to say, ‘This is my work’ when it’s not, then yep quite a bit of trouble. “Because that is a form of academic misconduct and the university takes academic integrity very seriously.”

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However, academic integrity breaches are nothing new as students have always had access to a range of tools to cheat, according to Nadine Ogborn from RRC Polytech.

“What we focus on is that students, the majority of students, are academically honest. Academic integrity breach is the exception, not the rule and that’s what we’re continuing to see,”

However, while the school hopes for the best it is also preparing for the worst.

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“Our instructors really are our biggest line of defense on that. We have small class sizes, we’re an up-five learning institution and our instructors are able to build really strong relationships with our students.”

“They’re able to see when maybe something is coming across their desk that doesn’t match the capability or the skills that they know or that they’ve seen from that student in the past.”

Jordaan said each student’s work is like a fingerprint. It’s unique in its own way, so if the work begins to look drastically different it does raise some red flags.

“Words are different, the context is different, then, you know, you might want to have a conversation with students, you know, asking follow-up questions, see what’s going on.”

Jordaan warns that if a student is caught cheating or plagiarizing with the assistance of A.I., the consequences will be severe and no laughing matter.

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They can range from getting an F for the course to being suspended and, if it’s a continued issue, it could result in the student being expelled.

He said students may not get caught but the consequences are severe if they do and therefore it is not worth it to even try to get away with it.

“You’re at a university. You are paying a lot of money to be here to learn to get a new skill and to move forward into all these unique positions.”

with files from Global’s Marney Blunt

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