The use of artificial intelligence (AI) in education has brought about significant advancements in how students learn. However, it has also opened up a new avenue for academic dishonesty.
Homework is an integral part of self-learning. But, is the use of AI helping or harming this process?
With the proliferation of AI tools capable of generating essays, solving math problems, and providing answers to various homework questions, educators face the challenge of distinguishing genuine student work from AI-generated content. As a parent or teacher, it’s important to know how to detect if your student is using AI tools to complete their homework.
In this article, we will explore the problem of AI cheating, arrive at some possible mitigation approaches and conclude with the broader implications of AI in education.
Use of AI to complete homework
• How AI can help: AI tools can help students to process vast amounts of data, find relevant material and even organize their notes. This can save a lot of time and help increase their efficiency.
• How AI can hinder: While AI can be a valuable educational resource when used ethically, it becomes problematic when students misuse it to complete their homework assignments or during examinations. AI-generated work can create a false impression of a student’s skills and knowledge, making it difficult for educators to assess their true academic abilities. This not only undermines the educational process but also devalues the integrity of the education system. Excessive use of AI can hinder the critical thinking and problem-solving skills of students. This could also lead to decreased student motivation for learning and disincentivise hard work.
Signs that a student is using AI tools
Detecting AI cheating can be challenging, but there are some tell-tale signs that educators can look for:
• Consistently flawless work: If a student’s work suddenly improves dramatically or consistently demonstrates a level of sophistication beyond their previous performance, it may be a sign of AI assistance.
• Incorrect responses presented confidently: AI tools often generate factually incorrect responses, but might insist that their answer is right! So, students might accept the AI responses at face value and present the same in their assignments.
• Inconsistent writing style: AI-generated content may lack the personal touch and exhibit a more generic or formal writing style not consistent with a student’s typical work.
• Over-reliance on online sources: Students using AI may include obscure sources or online references that are not typically found in their course materials.
• Unusually fast completion: If students submit their work unusually quickly, it could indicate the use of AI tools that generate answers instantly.
• Inconsistent vocabulary and formatting: Assignments that are hastily put together using AI would show an inconsistent level of vocabulary. They may lack coherence and clearly indicate a copy-paste job.
• Use of odd sentence structures: AI may use sentence structures that follow particular patterns. Unusual grammatical constructions or patterns can highlight AI use in student work.
How to prevent AI cheating
Preventing AI cheating involves a combination of strategies.
• Educate and communicate: Raise awareness about the ethical use of AI and the consequences of cheating. Show them the answers which these tools get absolutely wrong. Students need to understand to what extent AI tools can be used and how misuse of these tools may result in punishment.
• Assign local/context specific questions from the real world: Create assignments with questions that are not easily searchable or answerable by AI. AI tools often quote examples from the western world. So, keep your question scope and context local such as local currencies, names, cities, food items and so on.
• Use plagiarism detection tools: Use online tools like Turnitin and Google Scholar to detect plagiarism and improper citation. Some AI detection tools that can flag the use of these tools in assignments are also available.
• Ask for step-by-step solutions: Ask students to provide step-by-step solutions to math problems or explanations for their answers to complex questions.
• Encourage critical thinking: Design assignments that require students to apply their knowledge and critical thinking skills rather than just regurgitating facts.
• Use open-ended problems in assignments: Human evaluation and judgement are required to answer these questions.
• Impromptu test/viva on the same subject: A quick unplanned or unannounced test in class on the same subject can help detect the level of understanding in students.
• Design learning by doing projects: Project-based learning encourages students to apply what they’ve learned and create a final product, which often cannot be replicated by an AI tool.
Importance of self-regulation in students
Teaching students about the responsible use of AI is essential for fostering self-regulation. Encouraging honesty and integrity in their academic work not only prepares them for future challenges but also reinforces the value of education as a personal growth experience.
• Self-monitoring: Good self-monitoring involves checking the quality of work and correcting errors before submitting it. It helps students avoid plagiarism.
• Self-focus: Focus on the tasks at hand by avoiding unnecessary distractions that can lead to procrastination, which can result in students resorting to using AI homework help instead of learning the material.
• Goal-setting: Encouraging goal-setting helps students develop better time management skills and prioritize their tasks effectively. With good time management, students are less likely to need to resort to AI for quickly finishing their work.
Alternative study and learning methods
Students should engage in methodologies of learning other than AI.
• Outdoor learning: Outdoor learning offers students an opportunity to learn in fresh perspectives and environments. It can improve attention span, memory and help students develop self-regulation skills.
• Peer-to-peer learning: Peer learning power is very strong; group discussions can improve students’ understanding, form new ideas and challenge perspectives. They often encourage the application of knowledge which AI-based systems lack.
• Game-based learning: Game-based learning offers stimuli similar to video games, motivating students to learn, provide instant feedback, and help develop their critical thinking with unique problem-based approaches that current AI tool-blocked solutions often fail to offer.
The use of AI can be a helpful tool to increase efficiency and learn, but careful considerations on its usage should be made. As a parent or teacher, it is important to monitor and limit AI usage for cheating, and rather promote self-learning activities, understanding of one’s capabilities, and knowledge integrity. By doing so, students will be able to learn lifelong skills that can help them navigate problems, love learning and engage in higher education with self-confidence.
The author is an IT industry drop-out after several years of slogging and money-making. She is now working freelance as a corporate technical trainer and content writer. She is hoping to channelize her passion for writing into a satisfying experience for herself and a joyous experience for her readers. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.