Since its launch in November 2022, the artificial intelligence chatbot ChatGPT has caused significant waves in education. The bot can imitate human-level speech and writing uncannily well, causing many educators to question how essay-based learning can continue when students have access to such a free and easy shortcut. In fact, there have already been cases of college students caught cheating by using the tool.
In order to shed more light on this issue, in January Intelligent.com surveyed 1,000 current U.S. 4-year college students to ask them about their knowledge and use of ChatGPT when it comes to schoolwork.
- 30% of college students have used ChatGPT on written homework
- Of this group, close to 60% use it on more than half of their assignments
- 3 in 4 ChatGPT users believe it is cheating but use it anyway
30% of College Students Have Used ChatGPT to Complete a Written Assignment
When asked if they were familiar with ChatGPT before the start of this survey, 46% of respondents said that they knew of ChatGPT previously while 54% did not. Of the 46% who said they were familiar with ChatGPT, 64% (30% of the total sample) say they have used it to help them complete a written assignment.
Of this group of ChatGPT users, 60% estimated that they use the tool for 50% or more of their total written assignments.
English professor Dr. Ronnie Gladden explained how they plan to approach written assignments differently this semester by having students start their essay drafts in class to prevent plagiarism. “In essence, originality and rigor absolutely matter. And critical consciousness and independent thought must be fostered, and I will fiercely defend those elements.”
“Still,” they continued, “I think it will be far more useful to work in conjunction with AI technology than to try to rail against it. A new era for teaching and learning is emerging.”
Many educators are struggling with the question of whether or not to incorporate ChatGPT into their curricula or to ban it outright. According to our respondents, 46% say their professors and/or their school have banned ChatGPT for homework, while 29% say they have not banned it and 26% are not sure.
“I’m embracing ChatGPT…I teach graphic design, which means I work with students on how to work in creative ways as we communicate through relationships between text, image and space,” commented Lisa Maione, Assistant Professor of Graphic Design at the Kansas City Art Institute.
“I will be activating ChatGPT as a partner in our projects,” she continued. “As our department embraces an inquiry-based model for education, ChatGPT is one more place from which we can consider how a question might affect our sense of the answer…I hope that ChatGPT, along with all the tools we use both analog and digital, will be playful partners in our creative and critical work.”
“ChatGPT does not replace critical thinking or critical reading or critical writing,” advised Professor Maione. “In some ways, I sense this tool will encourage both my students and me to engage with even more reading, writing and editing.”
Twenty-eight percent of survey respondents also believe that their professors are ‘probably’ (23%) or ‘definitely’ (5%) not aware that they have used the tool on their assignments.
“I explicitly ask my students to try ChatGPT out in my course along with other AI tools,” said Kristina Martin, Adjunct Professor at Albright College. “I do discourage them from using ChatGPT to write answers to discussion posts and other writing assignments, but when I talk about ChatGPT and AI, I also discuss the ethical considerations of using these tools and the responsibility of the user. I give them a list of things that they can use ChatGPT for as well.”
“I encourage them to do research offline, in the library, or through access to online databases and academic journals,” she explained. “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.”
3 in 4 Chat GPT Users Believe it is Cheating, But Use it Anyway
Three-quarters of students who have used ChatGPT for homework say it is ‘somewhat’ (46%) or ‘definitely’ (29%) cheating. These numbers increase when including students who say they are familiar with ChatGPT but haven’t used it themselves. With this group included, 80% say it is ‘somewhat’ (48%) or ‘definitely’ (32%) cheating.
“As a current student at Sheridan College, I have personally used ChatGPT to assist with my homework assignments,” commented graduate student Christopher Smith. “From my observations, a fair number of my peers have also used this technology to help with their work. However, whether or not using ChatGPT is considered cheating is a bit more complicated.”
“I do not consider using ChatGPT to be cheating as long as the work produced is still original and not plagiarized. However, some may view it as a form of academic dishonesty. Using ChatGPT can be a helpful tool for students, but it is important to use it responsibly and ethically,” he continued.
When asked how popular they believe the use of the tool is among other students, 76% say its use is ‘somewhat’ (50%) or ‘very’ (26%) popular.
“As a current university student, I have not personally used ChatGPT to help with my homework assignments. However, from my observations and discussions with peers, it seems that ChatGPT is becoming increasingly popular among students as a way to take shortcuts on their work,” said college student Sean de Beerand.
“While I can understand the appeal of using a tool like ChatGPT to generate ideas and content quickly, it is important to remember that using it to complete homework assignments would be considered academic dishonesty and could land you in some serious trouble,” he continued.
“One of the main reasons why students turn to ChatGPT and similar tools is to save time and effort. However, using these tools to complete homework assignments does not truly reflect your understanding and comprehension of the material. It is not only cheating but also undermines the purpose of education which is to gain knowledge and skills.
“In my opinion, it is best to use ChatGPT or any similar tool as a source of inspiration, but all of the actual writing and structuring should be done personally by the student,” he advised.
This survey was commissioned by Intelligent.com and conducted online by the survey platform Pollfish from January 18-19, 2023. In total, 1,000 participants in the U.S. were surveyed. All participants had to pass through demographic filters to ensure they were a student between the ages of 18 and 25. Respondents were then screened to include only current 4-year college students. The survey used a convenience sampling method, and to avoid bias from this component Pollfish employs Random Device Engagement (RDE) to ensure both random and organic surveying. Learn more about Pollfish’s survey methodology or contact [email protected] for more information.