It’s as simple as this: you type in what you want, and the chatbot writes it out for you within seconds. And if you aren’t completely satisfied, you can give the software another command and the text will be improved. Since the end of last year, all sorts of answers, articles and essays have been rolling out of the chatbot this way.
But that is not allowed. The Examination Boards views the use of the bot to write assignments as fraud, according to a spokesperson for the university. “In principle, it is not permitted to use tools such as artificial intelligence or ghostwriting, because this is not the student’s original work.” Students have not been caught thus far, partly because there is no policy.
Examination boards regard ChatGPT as fraud
Using ChatGPT for a study assignment is fraud. This is what the university's examination…
Faculties, Examination Boards and innovation experts will discuss the chatbot at the beginning of February. Students will also share their perspectives. The goal: share different perspectives that faculties can use for internal discussions about policy for the software. The intention is that faculties will include the different perspectives in their discussions about internal policy.
“ChatGPT is a kind of superweapon”, says Dmitry (21), student at Erasmus School of Management. He uses the software for almost everything: his own business, writing down ideas and his degree programme. Because he also works full-time at Amazon, efficiency takes priority ‘at all times’. So when it comes to ‘straightforward tasks’ that ‘don’t require much creativity’, he prefers to leave these to the bot. “It’s better to focus on achieving your own important goals than to just work within the university system.”
The university should ban ChatGPT altogether, you might think. Especially since plagiarism checkers do not always recognise the generated text. But it’s not that black and white. “You can’t stop this development”, says Vanessa Abel, director at ErasmusX, an organisation that helps to promote technical and other innovation within education. ErasmusX is currently experimenting with the chatbot to gain insight into how the bot could impact education. “Companies are buying the software now, so there’s a good chance that students will have to deal with it later on in their careers.”
The university is therefore better off looking at how lecturers can use ChatGPT in a responsible manner in lectures, Abel says. Lecturers should focus more on students’ analytical abilities in this regard. “For example, a law professor could ask the software: ‘What punishment should person X receive if he has committed act X?’ Then the professor would ask to what extent the bot’s answer is correct, so that the students themselves have to think analytically.”
Although technological changes often instil fear at first, we should not forget the benefits of ChatGPT for students, says Jonathan Flores Minuea. He is a technical innovator at ErasmusX and is experimenting with ‘the best AI tool there is’. “If you feel stuck when writing an essay, for example, you can ask the bot to give you some ideas or write an introduction so you can keep going.”
That’s how student Bruno (20) uses the chatbot. “Sometimes it’s hard to get started on a paper”, says the student at Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences. “So I type the research question into ChatGPT. That gives me an idea of what I should mention in my text.”
But using ChatGPT for written assignments also carries risks, Flores Minuea warns. The software doesn’t know anything about the world after 2021, for instance. “And if students all ask the bot the same kind of question, they’ll all get the same kind of answer, sometimes even literally the same sentences. Then it’s clearly a case of plagiarism.”
That’s why Bruno never copies more than two sentences from the software for his assignments. “I don’t know how much plagiarism checkers can tell that the text was written by AI”, he says. “Besides, it would no longer be my own work.”
Student Dmitry has fewer qualms in this respect. “The idea and the input are mine. I don’t think it’s a problem that the written work is done by ChatGPT”, he says. “But submitting an entire essay written by the chatbot goes too far in my opinion. That’s also difficult: sometimes the bot links quotes to the wrong people or scientific articles.”
Chances are the software will get it right soon, though. “It might not be that smart just yet, but ChatGPT is machine learning, so it will get there”, says ErasmusX director Abel. The software is ‘learning’ very quickly because people are currently providing massive input to the bot. “The university must therefore ensure that it has good plagiarism checkers.”
Dmitry hopes he can continue to use the software in the same way at the university. He wishes the same for other students as well. “A more efficient life is a better life.”