Identifying AI in Students' Assignments: Approaches for Educators
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Identifying AI in Students' Assignments: Approaches for Educators

Identifying AI in Students' Assignments: Approaches for Educators

If you are a university professor, you are definitely more stressed now than ever before. The fakery of AI-generated research papers and essays is spreading extremely quickly and you are expected to make important decisions every time you assess the student’s paper. What is more important now – to detect as much plagiarism as possible or avoid doing harm with potentially false accusations? Which tool is the best for AI detection? It is no longer possible just to have a glance at the text submitted by the student to say whether it is original or not. Still, the issues related to writing with the help of ChatGPT and other AI tools are skyrocketing. It is high time to figure out which strategies professors can use to know how to detect ai-generated text in the papers they get for evaluation.

Pandemic of AI Use in Schools

BBC refers to a little survey made as far ago as October 31, 2023 to estimate how many out of 33 school students use AI for doing their school assignments. The result was a striking number of 31! So, 31 out of 33 students were using AI for doing various kinds of schoolwork. They do realize that sometimes the answers they get from a machine can be not trustworthy, but this cheating helped them save their time and come up with ideas they lacked. They no longer had to take effort to do proper phrasing or structuring, research or creative writing. If you ask them, ‘Can professors tell when you use ai?’ the students would most probably hope they cannot. The power of AI writing tools is getting stronger day after day. Now they can convincingly write even about human feelings and emotions! The risk that young people will become lazier and lose their chances to develop their creativity and skills of critical thinking is rather high. Who would not want to do assignments in no time and then enjoy instead of spending hours on writing and revising?

Fresh Look at Teaching: How Do Colleges Detect Ai Writing

As the journalist from Washington Post states, educators are now forced to rethink all the aspects of teaching, including grading, planning lessons, and plagiarism evaluation. The question they ask themselves now is ‘What are we here for, anyway?’ For sure, the availability of diverse AI content detectors gives a chance to identify plagiarized text at the higher rate of accuracy. Such checkers as use the latest technological advancements to help professors be fair in their judgment. Still, flagging the cases of high probability of AI use, there is always an important note: ‘further investigation is required.’ Unfortunately, 100% accuracy in detecting AI content is not a reality yet.

Can teachers detect ai writing in all cases? No, of course not! The thing is that the students not always use ChatGPT for getting a ready-made essay. What they can do is to get an AI assistant tool to help them polish their drafts, for example by:

  • fixing sloppy sentences
  • adding sophisticated vocabulary
  • elaborating vague passages
  • providing counterarguments, and what not

Does it mean that the essay written with the help of AI is original? There is no unanimity in answers to this question.

Actually, experienced teachers can detect machines in writing. Having seen thousands of students’ assignments, they feel that this or that paper is not human-written. However, the thing is to know what to do with this feeling as it is not a valid ground for low grade.

Then how do teachers know if you use ai? Which steps should they take?

  1. Check writing for evident content issues

In most cases, if the text is generated by AI, there is no intellectual depth there. Critical analysis is typically done at a low level and there are few elaborate ideas and little well-grounded reasoning. The most frequent inadequacies in AI-composed texts are the following:

  • insignificant research scope
  • lack of references / citations
  • false references / citations
  • redundancies and duplications
  • little variety of vocabulary
  1. Make a comparison between the paper and previous student’s works

Every student has a distinctive writing style, structure of the sentences, choice of vocabulary, and other features of writing. If a new paper has a dramatic distinction with the previous essays or research papers, it is quite possible that it is not original.

  1. Ask follow-up questions

During the interviews or class discussions, a teacher can give a number of questions related to the topic of the submitted paper to see how well the student grasped the ideas.

  1. Use software programs that detect AI

All teachers ask how to check for ai generated text and for sure they look for software that can provide the most reliable results. Some of the tools are free, some make it possible to check a particular number of words, while others offer paid plans. The detection rate cannot equal 100 % but with the advanced algorithms it is still possible to identify high likelihood of using AI while writing.

It is a matter of crucial importance for the teachers to know how to check if writing is ai generated and uncover the use of ChatGPT in doing school assignments. If a professor suspects that there are issues with the text content, it is high time to make use of the strategies we have suggested. It is quite possible that the student has improved in writing, but if all the previous papers have a completely different style of writing and an AI detection tool shows high probability rate of unauthenticity, then a discussion with a student is a must. It is essential now to make students believe that the answer to the question ‘how do teachers know if you use ai? is ‘Easily!’ The present-day generation will undoubtedly use AI in the future. Thus, along with checking the papers for AI use, it is a must to teach everybody about it. All in all, without keeping up with the technological developments, educators will no longer be able to meet the challenges related to plagiarism.

Kelsey Ayton
Born in Warsaw. Studied Psychology at SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities; took part in several inspiring Erasmus programs.
Former Practical Psychologist| Blogger of Various Mass Media | Currently PlagiarismSearch content writer | Mother-Freelancer
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