Five signs your students are using AI

With artificial intelligence (AI) becoming an increasingly bigger presence in society, questions are being asked about how it can be used in education, both positively and negatively. One of the most common concerns being ‘Could students realistically use AI to cheat?’

Research from providers of online courses in education, High Speed Training, carried out an experiment, asking a focus group of UK-based teachers to blindly review both AI and student-generated content to see if they could identify the AI content, and provide a grade for each answer.

The focus group of 15 secondary school level teachers, from several written, essay-based subjects, were each provided with two answers to real questions from past exam papers covering English language, geography and religious studies, and were required to say whether they believed the content was written by students or AI. A focus group of three GCSE aged students created the human content, with the same questions also answered by ChatGPT. 

With each participant reviewing one AI and one student answer each, three in five (60%) teachers struggled to identify at least one answer they were asked to review, with one in three (33%) failing to correctly identify both of the answers they reviewed. In total, nearly half (47%) of all of the answers reviewed by the focus group were wrongly identified. 

The teachers provided feedback on each answer. The five most common giveaways they shared that the text had been AI-generated were:

  1. Americanised language

One of the simplest identifying signs of AI use is Americanised spelling. Whilst this is easy for students to remove if they know what they are looking for, they may overlook it, leaving the words as small clues a teacher can pick up on. 

2. Lack of personal case studies

Students are instructed to use memorised and previously studied examples to help illustrate their points and reinforce their argument. A total lack of anecdotal evidence and a reliance on the information provided with the question, could suggest AI involvement. 

  1. Vocabulary used

Whilst the AI was instructed to answer questions in simplified language, several teachers spotted that some of the answers contained language that you would not expect to see from GCSE aged pupils. Students tend to use more informal language and a regular use of advanced vocabulary is not common. 

  1. Formulaic structure

AI will try to neatly package an answer and cover all points that it is asked to concisely. The teachers in the study pointed out that some answers seemed to try to fit everything in, whereas many students would be unlikely to address every single point in a question. 

  1. It’s a little too perfect

Even the best students make some small mistakes in their writing, whether it’s spelling, grammar, or a tendency to waffle and include unnecessary words. AI created content is unlikely to include any of these, and may stand out as being a little too perfect.

Of course, there are more obvious ways to tell if AI has been used!

Image from Pexels

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