The Newspaper of McDaniel High School

The Oracle

The Newspaper of McDaniel High School

The Oracle

The Newspaper of McDaniel High School

The Oracle

AI generated essays inflict regret on students, start ethical conversations for teachers

Maxson Peters

The Terminator, The Matrix, Ex Machina and I, Robot. All these movies have AI taking over human society. Yet with these movies warning us about artificial intelligence taking over, we still are hungry for greater innovations in technology. 

AI has continued to evolve in school settings so far that apps can write essays for us, which poses a problem for teachers because it makes it easier for students to cheat. AI such as Textero AI, Quibot and Jasper AI make generating an AI essay easy for students. 

The most popular AI is ChatGPT. The way the app works is through its generative pre-trained transformer, which uses specialized algorithms to find patterns within data sequences. It is the most well known AI to use for writing, as it has now risen to second on the productivity charts on the Apple App Store. 

ChatGPT is no secret to students, it is a powerful source for cheating. 

An anonymous student says they used ChatGPT for English class last year. 

“I wouldn’t technically consider [it] plagiarism because it’s a robot, but I wouldn’t consider [using] it again,” they stated.

The student got low points on the essay, only getting a three out of five. They were never caught for using AI and don’t plan on using ChatGPT again. 

“I want to focus more on my own words,” they said. 

English teacher Gene Brunak notices ChatGPT is the most popular AI app for students to use in his class.

Based on what I read and my direct experience, ChatGPT has dominated conversations,” Brunak said. 

Brunak tries to be fair when finding out people used ChatGPT; he gives his students another chance to re-do the assignment. 

“There was one essay for summer reading for my AP English that particularly ChatGPT could be used to cheat [on],”  Brunak said.

The students had to read a book of their own choosing and the last question asked how this book affected you and what you learned from it. 

“There were at least a few responses that were kind of generic and didn’t involve them. I told them this is something that could be something generated by AI,” Brunak said.

He asks his students to re-submit an answer that at least conveys to him that you connected to the book

Even with this, he’s not that worried about students cheating in his class. 

“Because the nature of my class is writing on demand, timed essays, pen to paper. that removes a lot of opportunity for ChatGPT but also cheating in general,” Brunak said.

English teacher Joseph Martin says that he can tell when a student uses AI. 

“I get to know a student’s writing voice pretty quickly, so it’s easy to see if it sounds like them or not,” Martin said. 

He believes he can tell when a student uses AI in an essay. 

“You can quickly tell if a sentence was a robot or not if it doesn’t sound like the student,” Martin said. “Then I may ask, ‘Tell me about your process’ if I am still confused.” 

Martin said if a student uses a site like ChatGPT, they won’t get credit for the assignment. Martin has caught a student cheating using AI in his class before.

Martin maintained a supportive atmosphere after the student was caught.

“I asked them to highlight the sentences that they wrote and the ones that AI wrote. Then I had them do it over with more support from me,” he said.

Even though students use it to cheat, he believes it can be a good tool for students and teachers.

“I think it is a great resource,” Martin said. “I plan to get better at using it and teaching students how to use it. Also, I plan to help other teachers use it.” 

He plans on using ChatGPT this year in his classroom. 

“I have a lesson I plan to do with my classes that allows them to create an account and create some acceptable use guidelines for the class and themselves [and] also just get them playing around with the tool,” Martin said.

Another anonymous student used ChatGPT for English last year. They don’t believe it is a good tool for students. 

“I just used it ‘cause I was desperate and I wanted to pass,” they said. 

They had a strict English teacher that year, so they felt like the only way they could pass was to cheat.  

“ I didn’t want to deal with him saying I didn’t use enough synonyms or whatever he used, so I just asked the AI to do it for me and the AI did it for me,” they said.

The student used ChatGPT one more time that year.  The student also used it for their final for English about a play.

“We were in the middle of taking the test and I went to the bathroom,” they said. “I snuck the piece of paper and a pen in my pocket, wrote down all the questions in ChatGPT, then wrote it on my piece of paper. Then reattached it into my notebook. I passed.”

They believe at least for one of the essays the AI did a good job. 

“For the essay it was good. It was all my writing, it just changed the punctuation and stuff,” they said, “but for [the play], I don’t know, ‘cause I don’t know the play or the movie or anything about it.”

Ultimately, though, the student does not plan on using ChatGPT this year unless they are not confident in their writing skills.

ChatGPT is a powerful and artificial source for students to have. It can do anything from simply making your writing better to writing a whole essay for a student. 

To demonstrate its abilities, here is a prompt from ChatGPT about the ending it believes should be used for this article.

“In conclusion, the integration of AI in the essay writing process has undoubtedly revolutionized how students approach their academic assignments. While it offers unparalleled assistance in generating content, it is essential for educators and institutions to strike a balance between leveraging AI as a valuable tool for learning and ensuring that students develop their critical thinking and writing skills. As AI continues to advance, it is imperative that we harness its potential to enhance education while nurturing the essential skills that make us uniquely human. The collaboration between students and AI represents a promising future for education, where technology complements, rather than replaces, human creativity and intellect.”

The fact AI is aware that there has to be a balance between AI being a useful source and a tool that doesn’t let students think critically for themselves is surprising. Most people think AI would be self congratulating, but AI knows the statement put before has more powerful of an impact and is more persuading. 

AI resources like ChatGPT are a double-edged sword. On one hand, it can be used to create ideas and edit work. On the other, it can be used to take credit for work that the student did not create. 

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About the Contributor
Maxson Peters, Managing Editor/Business Manager

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    Eva AndrewsSep 29, 2023 at 9:42 am

    Max!! I love this article!!