Students are cheating with the new chatbot, survey shows

A survey shows that nearly a third of college-aged respondents have used the chatbot, ChatGPT, for written homework even though nearly three-fourths of them think that it counts as cheating.

As sources report that ChatGPT outperforms humans on written assignments, some instructors warn of its downsides, including studies showing its left-leaning political bias.

A new survey from Intelligent shows that nearly a third of college-aged respondents have used ChatGPT to complete written homework. 

The artificial intelligence (AI) company OpenAI unveiled ChatGPT in November, a chatbot that produces written responses to users’ prompts. Though many professors reported that ChatGPT failed to earn an “A” grade–or even a passing grade–on their assignments, other reports show that the chatbot can outperform humans. 

Survey data also suggest that, from the perspective of students and instructors, ChatGPT is powerful enough to be used as a shortcut on assignments. 

Students are using ChatGPT even when they think it counts as cheating and even when their professors ban it, according to Intelligent, a higher education-focused publication. Of the survey respondents who use ChatGPT (30 percent), 46 percent think that it is “somewhat” cheating compared to 32 percent who say that it “definitely” is. 

[RELATED: PROF. ELLWANGER: Chatbot’s essay doesn’t make the grade: Artificial intelligence and the art of writing]

Some professors interviewed by Intelligent suggest that they reluctantly embrace ChatGPT, reflecting the common advice for K-12 schools and colleges to work with, not against, new technologies. Edutopia, an educational foundation, argued that banning technologies such as ChatGPT is “akin to shutting down cars or planes in the early 1900s.” 

However, 46 percent of respondents said that their instructors or their university did ban ChatGPT, according to Intelligent

In a statement to Campus Reform, a spokesperson for OpenAI wrote, “We’ve always called for transparency around the use of AI-generated text. Our policies require that users be up-front with their audience when using our API and creative tools like DALL-E and GPT-3.”

“We don’t want ChatGPT to be used for misleading purposes in schools or anywhere else, so we’re already developing mitigations to help anyone identify text generated by that system,” the spokesperson continued. “We look forward to working with educators on useful solutions, and other ways to help teachers and students benefit from artificial intelligence.”

Some educators who do allow ChatGPT still express reservations. “I encourage [students] to do research offline, in the library, or through access to online databases and academic journals,” one professor told Intelligent. “Serendipitous discovery in research is important and has led to some of the greatest discoveries of our time. With modern technology and AI tools, serendipity is hard to come by.”

Students relying on ChatGPT for research, as Campus Reform has reported, could also yield biased results. Professor and researcher David Rozado administered political typology quizzes to ChatGPT in December 2022, which produced answers for “Establishment Liberals” but then moved closer to the political center over the course of two weeks. 

[RELATED: AI writes academic essay, raises questions about academic integrity, standards]

When he tested ChatGPT again in January, its responses shifted back to the left, according to Rozado's Twitter thread and Substack article.

Rozado discussed the significance of ChatGPT with Campus Reform and predicted that future models of the chatbot "will become gateways to the body of accumulated human knowledge." ChatGPT models, he said, could become digital assistants and could even replace Google's search engine. 

"As such, they will exert an enormous amount of influence in shaping society and human perceptions," Rozado told Campus Reform

"Because of the expected large popularity of such systems, the risks of them being misused for societal control, spreading misinformation, curtailing human freedom and obstructing the path towards truth seeking, while degrading democratic institutions and processes deserves serious consideration."

Campus Reform contacted Intelligent and Edutopia for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.