Students Are Using AI To Write School Essays For Them

AI has become an important resource in the computing community and for researchers more broadly. AI software allows research teams to develop computer models for all kinds of different analysis requirements (via Cal. Tech). These tools speed along the process of understanding the natural world around us and predicting all kinds of different outcomes across virtually all aspects of human life (including tactile outputs). But recently, students have begun to employ AI tools to write essays for them.

This approach cuts down the time it takes a student to write an essay by an enormous margin. By some accounts, all it takes to accomplish an essay is a few key prompts. A student might input some basic statements about the topic or a few keywords and the AI does the rest, according to The Information.

This has transformed the way many students see and tackle their schoolwork. In one sense, the prevalence of AI has improved the experience of many students. This takes the pressure off a student who hasn't had much success in the past with writing assignments and allows them to focus their attention on other components of their education in order to boost their overall performance. However, there are some ethical concerns that come about as a result of AI usage in the classroom, as one might expect.

AI processes have become almost indiscernible from human input

In the last few years, the use of AI processes to improve the outcome of a variety of different endeavors has become mainstream. The New York Times reports that art created by AI techniques often rivals the skill and intimate expertise that a human can muster only after years of technical study and precise practice (recently winning a prize in the process). The world we live in is changing, and along with these changes comes the use of digital technology that can be mustered to create all manner of content. Vice reports that students are using AI processes to help them improve their time management and grades at both the college and high school levels already.

The use of AI to create college essays is still somewhat new. But with continuous improvements in technology, the gap between a high-quality essay that's been written by a student and one crafted by an AI program has become almost undetectable. This makes it increasingly hard for college professors and high school teachers in their grading efforts. Identifying when an essay has been written honestly and when additional help has been employed to finish the project and perhaps improve the resulting grade without the traditional sweat equity is immensely difficult.

In a very real sense, the prevalence of easy-to-access AI processes has developed an unfair advantage for some students while others remain ignorant of these opportunities or endeavor to perform their work without external support, even if they're able to use it themselves.

Is this approach cheating?

However, it can be hard to say whether this approach is morally repugnant or simply something to be frowned upon. A college professor might be likely to tell you that this approach to essay writing is textbook cheating and should be grounds for punishment. However, computer programmers are often quick to note that the best way to solve a problem that lies before you is the fastest approach that remains both accurate and comprehensive (via FreeCodeCamp). In this regard, using an AI program to write your essay for you is a different sort of learning that can provide something of equal or perhaps even greater value than the work itself would be able to achieve.

In the college environment today, a future electrical engineer, political scientist, theater professional, and biologist will all be required to participate in the same baseline curriculum for their first two years (via Pearson Accelerated). People studying all of these different degree tracks may find themselves in the same history or social science course as a second-semester freshman, for instance. The coursework might not be interesting or even very valuable to the future career trajectories of any or all of these individuals. Therefore, learning how to streamline their efforts in this marginally relevant topic is perhaps its own lesson.

It's really all just relative.