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The news that keeps us Onward On!

The Carroll News

The news that keeps us Onward On!

The Carroll News

Faculty and staff respond to ChatGPT and other emerging A.I. technologies

JCU+faculty+and+staff+react+over+the+wave+of+AI+technology+that+has+entered+academia.+
Airam Dato
JCU faculty and staff react over the wave of AI technology that has entered academia.

Within most syllabi in classes at John Carroll University, there is a collection of general statements regarding academic honesty. These policies may include rules regarding cheating on exams, improperly citing sources or even outright plagiarism; they are usually quite standard across the university in order to conform with the Undergraduate Bulletin.

While these general warnings have evolved steadily along with technological advances as they become commonplace in the classroom, professors and scholars alike may face a new technology which invites reconsideration of these policies: ChatGPT.

ChatGPT, according to Forbes, is “an artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot” which was released late in 2022. Unlike past iterations of web portals and robotic tools, ChatGPT is a platform that “[proves] that machines can indeed ‘learn’ the complexities of human language and interaction.” Additionally, where other softwares has been tucked behind paywalls or high in an ivory tower, a quick Google search makes ChatGPT readily available

This artificial intelligence has multiple capabilities. As stated by Make Use Of, an online magazine that specializes in technology guides, ChatGPT could “be used for writing music, coding assistance, manipulating media files, movie recommendations, playing games, cooking assistance, improving health, creating content in multiple languages, job interview preparation, writing essays and as a chat companion.” Truly, the sky’s the limit with the opportunities that artificial intelligence offers us.

This platform has the capacity to be used to complete school work and craft papers at a staggering pace. A study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that students with access to ChatGPT were able to finish their assignments 18 percent faster than the control group. And now, nearly a year after the site’s original release, collegiates have quickly become familiar with the software and its uses.

“My friend used it to write a paper,” Danielle Turi ‘24 told The Carroll News. “It took her down from five hours of work to two-and-a-half.”

According to BestColleges.com, 22 percent of college students say that they have used ChatGPT or similar programs to complete their assignments. This number is also expected to increase as the software continues to evolve with further iterations and versions.

With the uptick in its presence on campus, some professors at JCU are fearful of the implications this technology could have on the work they receive from their students.

Resulting from this potential anxiety, a few faculty members helped draft a statement to the university to examine the potential and dangers this technology holds. The statement, which was released on May 22, requested input from instructors over the summer to help curate an appropriate policy proposal.

“The intent of the future policy is to provide guidelines which instructors may use in their courses,” the statement reads. ”Ultimately, however, individual instructors are encouraged to contextualize the policy in light of their course materials and should feel enabled to define additional appropriate uses of AI when the course objectives include capitalization of this technology.”

Dr. Tom Pace, one of the faculty members who helped draft the John Carroll statement on ChatGPT and its like-minded AI counterparts, says that others are open to the possibilities that the software offers and that many of his colleagues “want to learn more about it.”

“Many faculty are concerned that students will use it inappropriately to take shortcuts in their work and turn in work that is not their own,” Pace told The Carroll News. “Other faculty, while they may have this worry, are interested in using it in their classrooms to help students learn course material. Others are wondering how effective AI detectors are in catching students using it dishonestly.”

The statement also includes a draft syllabus paragraph which includes both acceptable uses (finding a topic for a paper, detecting errors, formatting citations, etc) and unacceptable uses (using the software to write entire essays, complete unfinished portions of assignments, etc).

“The purpose behind the statement is for the university to have an official policy about its use so that instructors and students have a better sense of the parameters for using it — or not using it — in the classroom,” Pace continued. “One of the main challenges the university has identified is detecting when a student has used it dishonestly, since the majority of AI-detectors are not accurate.”

While others have been hesitant to embrace AI, Pace says that it is important to consider the changing postgraduate environment and how it will interact with software like ChatGPT.

“Since AI will more and more be a common part of the workplace, the university would be wise to engage with the technology and begin learning how to incorporate it into our classrooms so that Carroll students learn to be ethical, critical, and rhetorical users of this technology and are prepared for its impact in the workplace and elsewhere after they graduate,” Pace elaborated.

Communications student Kara Grose ‘25 echoed these sentiments, saying “I don’t personally use ChatGPT but I think it is something we have to get used to. Personally, in marketing, I think it is something we will have to use in the future.”

Currently, Pace says that one of the ways to deter students from looking to ChatGPT to complete their coursework is to “constantly work on creating better, more meaningful assignments, give students opportunities to revise and redraft and allow them the space to make the writing meaningful to them.”

As more research is released on the impacts of AI programs in the classroom, the JCU policy is expected to evolve in tandem.

“Right now we do not have data or other research on how to use ChatGPT effectively in the classroom,” Pace concluded. “And, because of that lack of research at the current moment, we do not have best practices for how to use it in the classroom. We simply do not know yet how best to use it. Writing Studies is beginning to do that research, and as we learn more about the best strategies for incorporating ChatGPT into the classroom, then I imagine the university’s policy will adjust accordingly.”

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About the Contributor
Laken Kincaid
Laken Kincaid, Editor-in-Chief
Laken Kincaid is the Editor-in-Chief for The Carroll News from Beckley, West Virginia. They are a senior at John Carroll University who is double majoring in political science and communications (digital media) and minoring in leadership development. Laken has written for The Carroll News since the start of their freshman year and has previously served as a staff reporter, campus section editor and managing editor of the paper. They have received 18 Best of SNO awards, a Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence award for Region 4 and two honorable mentions from the College Media Association. They have also been recognized by universities like Georgetown for their investigative reports. Additionally, they also write political satire for The Hilltop Show and feature stories on global poverty for The Borgen Project. In addition to their involvement with The Carroll News, Laken is involved with the Kappa Delta sorority, the speech and debate team, the Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion, the Improv club and other organizations. They also serve as the news director for WJCU 88.7, John Carroll's own radio station, and as the president for John Carroll's Society of Professional Journalists chapter.  Laken also started their own national nonprofit organization known as Art with the Elderly which they have won the President's Volunteer Service Award and the Humanity Rising Award for. When not writing, Laken can be found doing graphic design for their internship with Union Home Mortgage or working as a resident assistant and peer learning facilitator on campus. Laken also enjoys skiing and watching true crime documentaries. In the future, Laken hopes to become a political journalist for a national news organization or to be a campaign commercial editor for politicians. To contact Laken, email them at [email protected].

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