OPINION: Rahul Kumar discusses AI’s impact on academic assessment

Assistant Professor of Educational Studies Rahul Kumar wrote a piece recently published in Maclean’s about artificial intelligence replacing traditional academic assessments while creating new ones.

He writes:

“Less than a year ago, ChatGPT was unleashed upon the world—and in that short time, generative artificial intelligence has already become as ubiquitous in university lecture halls as laptops and desks. Students use gen AI for everything: getting an answer to a simple question, researching complex topics, producing text for written assignments. Faculty use it as well, to respond to emails, write reference letters and even grade papers.

The lightning-rod issue surrounding AI and academia is the future of the university essay. Historically, professors and students alike have assumed that the person whose name is on the cover page is the person who wrote the paper. But this idea has been eroding for a long time—for example, universities have spent years grappling with the epidemic of students contracting out their assignments to essay farms. With generative AI, it’s even easier and cheaper for students to avoid writing their papers themselves. All they need to do is input a prompt and AI can use everything it’s learned to deliver the response. No need to even come up with an outline.

Many people buy into the myth that the human brain will be able to root out anything that’s written by AI. My team’s research proves otherwise. In a study examining how well people could identify a human-generated text, only 63 per cent of the participants were able to do so accurately, while just a measly 24 per cent could guess that something was written by AI. We also know that AI can’t even reliably recognize itself. In a tweet that went viral, a ChatGPT user put the U.S. Constitution into an AI detector, and it reported that 92.2 per cent of the text was generated by AI. If these findings hold true, why are we even grading essays? Who is learning anything? The fact is that the university essay in its current form cannot continue. It’s dead, and new assessments need to rise in its place.”

Continue reading the full article on the Maclean’s website.

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