Could artificial intelligence allow students to cheat in exams?

Educators across Australia are creating new rules to address the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) programs they fear could help students cheat in assessment tasks.
What is ChatGPT?

Educators across Australia are creating new rules to address the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) programs they fear could help students cheat in assessment tasks.

It has prompted a return to traditional pen-and-paper exams for some, while others are exploring new technologies to counter the AI programs.

The context of artificial intelligence

AI programs, such as the chatbot ChatGPT, have recently grown in popularity. These models can perform a range of basic and complex writing tasks, including writing jokes or making up recipes.

The capabilities of models like ChatGPT have concerned educators, who believe it could be used by some students to answer test or essay questions.


Members of the Group of Eight university association, including the Australian National University, the University of Sydney, and the University of Melbourne, have told TDA they are changing how they run assessments.

This includes a move away from online exams, and the use of digital monitoring technology for remote students.

The Deputy Chief Executive of the Group of Eight, Matthew Brown, said that redesigning assessments was critical to “get ahead of artificial intelligence developments”.

School exams

Education authorities across Australia have discussed how school assessments can be protected from AI interference.

The NSW Department of Education said it is reviewing how students access AI programs, including ChatGPT, on school computers and networks.

Digital software aimed at ensuring academic integrity, such as Turnitin, is already used to detect common answers or plagiarism. It’s unclear if this software is able to reliably detect work made with an AI program.

What’s the solution?

New software programs in Australia and abroad have been developed to detect work created by artificial intelligence.

A program detecting the use of ChatGPT was launched this month by Edward Tian, a student at Princeton University.

Tian has posted videos demonstrating the software’s ability to identify work written by ChatGPT. He said he created it to stop academic plagiarism, and increase online transparency.

The software is still in its early stages and undergoing some improvements.

Future outlook of artificial intelligence

Associate Professor at ANU, Jenny Davis, said a game of “serve and return” between artificial intelligence programs and educators is likely to continue in the coming years.

“We’ll see it again until things settle, and the technology becomes more normalised, and the infrastructure becomes more normalised to the technology.”

In many cases, however, AI programs are still some distance from transforming how students approach assessment tasks.

A university student in Sydney told TDA he used an AI text-to-image generator to save time at the start of a design process, but that it was almost completely unable to help with other aspects of design.

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