Academic Integrity in the Era of AI: A Global Student Perspective

The International Day of Action for Academic Integrity 2023 brought together an online panel of students from around the world to discuss the role of artificial intelligence (AI) in academia and to share their diverse experiences. You can see some of the panellists (and facilitators) below, although I didn’t capture all of them as some joined during the discussion.

Student Panellists for International Day of Action for Academic Integrity 2023

This post brings together some of the highlights of the discussion. I do want to note that much of the post content was generated automatically by ChatGPT from the session transcript. The images were also generated by ChatGPT and the DALL-E3 option.

I did ask ChatGPT to use exact quotes, but it made a lot of these up (to match the summary). It is fascinating to look at some of the differences and here are some examples.

OriginalChatGPT Version
“For me, AI is like a digital brainstorming partner. Yet, the challenge lies in distinguishing my voice from the machine’s when writing.”“For me, AI is like a digital brainstorming partner.”
“I’m not really sure when my voice ends and the voice of ChatGPT or Google Bard begins.”
(originally two separated points)
“In terms of time saving and then broader perspectives, I think it does really well on that.”“AI, for me, is like a time-saving compass, pointing to broader perspectives.”

I’ve removed the student names from the below due to inaccuracies as to how they were transcribed, but I greatly thank everyone involved.

AI: An Essential Tool or a Crutch?

Student talking to an AI projection from a laptop

One student believes that while AI can be a crucial tool in academic work, it’s not something to be completely relied upon. They said they appreciate the broader perspectives it offers but remain cautious due to its occasional inaccuracies. Another participant sees both its potential benefits and pitfalls. They acknowledge how AI aids in school work but also warn that over-reliance can lead to laziness.

Another computer science student finds AI invaluable as a brainstorming and debugging tool. However, they feel uneasy using AI for writing, especially when it comes to distinguishing their voice from that of AI-assisted content.

How Has AI Impacted Academic Studies?

A participant shared that their perspective on AI has evolved over time. Initially skeptical, they now appreciate how AI can introduce them to new approaches and ideas they might not have considered on their own. Another echoed this sentiment, explaining how AI clarified complex concepts for them in their studies.

Yet, both warned against becoming too dependent on AI. They emphasised the importance of verifying AI-generated information, especially if one is unfamiliar with the topic.

Universities’ Stance on AI

University building with Ethical Use of AI on front

One panellist, who works in a writing centre, shared that while there isn’t a strict policy against using AI, students found to have written entire papers with AI’s assistance are required to start over. Another mentioned that their university has embraced AI tools, offering resources for both staff and students.

AI’s Potential Benefits and Drawbacks

A student sees AI as a time-saver that offers broader perspectives. However, they warn that over-reliance can stifle originality and individuality. Another believes that while AI simplifies knowledge, it doesn’t have the discernment to understand the context – for instance, AI can’t recognise when it’s being used for cheating.

AI Tools: Free vs. Paid

Student in front of doors illustrating free and paid AI

When asked about their preferences, a panellist shared that the free versions of AI tools are usually sufficient for academic assignments. They haven’t personally used any paid AI tools, but they believe the free tools meet most students’ needs.

Wrapping Up

Wrapping up the discussion

The session provided a wealth of insights into how students from diverse backgrounds perceive and use AI in their academic life. The varied perspectives show the importance of a balanced approach to AI and of including students as a key part of that discussion.

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