How teachers can combat chatbot-cheating

How teachers can combat chatbot-cheating

When the National Artificial Intelligence (AI) Taskforce was opened for consultation in July 2023, Federal Education Minister Jason Clare offered some food for thought that many are still digesting: “AI is not going away. Like the calculator or the internet, we need to learn how to grapple with this new technology.”

The challenge for schools, the Minister said, remains ensuring that students use AI for good and get the marks they deserve, rather than using it to lazily cut corners.

With this in mind, the NSW Education Department developed and trialled NSWEduChat – a purpose-built “virtual tutor” that responds to requests by posing its own questions to ensure children actually understand the concept they’re dealing with, and the calculations that were used to reach an answer.

Now, new research from the University of South Australia, has highlighted another way in which teachers can combat chatbot-cheating – and this method does not involve any technology.

Design Thinking, a human-centric and curiosity-driven methodology that can be easily adapted to the classroom, builds student creativity, critical thinking, and collaboration – skills that cannot easily be replicated by AI – while concurrently enabling teachers to monitor and assess student learning in a formative manner.

“Teachers at all levels of education are challenged by the dilemmas presented by generative AI, with one of the biggest issues being academic honesty and authenticity,” the study’s lead researcher and UniSA PhD candidate Maria Vieira said.

“Chatbots like ChatGPT, Meta AI or Microsoft Copilot are a great temptation for students, particularly when an essay can be produced with just a single click. We know that new technologies are not going away, so as teachers, we need to find ways to promote and assess authentic learning.”

Vieira said Design Thinking requires students to work through several phases of learning: empathy, definition, ideation, prototyping, testing and evaluation, with each step requiring a specific outcome, an opportunity for feedback, and importantly, a touchpoint for prompt feedback and formative assessment.

“Unlike traditional classroom settings where there is often a 'right' answer, Design Thinking addresses problems without predetermined solutions, challenging students to think more critically and creatively,” she said.

“The beauty of Design Thinking is that it allows teachers to assess student progress at any point of the process, and at either individual or group level, which immediately presents a solution to integrity issues posed by generative AI.”

Vieira pointed out that Design Thinking can also lead to a multitude of different creative outputs, including prototypes, mind maps, and presentations, and enables assessment both at individual level (through evidence of research or self-reflection pieces) and group levels (based on output produced).

As the phases occur in an iterative loop, students can revisit and review their work, which encourages continuous improvement, and helps them learn how to provide and receive constructive peer feedback.

“During the Design Thinking process, students have the opportunity to navigate ambiguity, develop empathy, recognise failure as part of the learning process, and collaborate – all skills that are essential for the 21st century,” Vieira said.

“This teaching method encourages students to take greater ownership of their learning, allowing teachers to shift their focus from delivering content, to observing and supporting their students in the classroom, being more attentive to their development and learning process.”

Vieira said while Design Thinking may not be the only solution for the future of education, it is undoubtedly a successful strategy.

“Design Thinking can be readily adopted across K-12 education systems to address some of the most pressing challenges associated with AI and global digitalisation.”