Teaching Writing in the Age of AI: Talking About Academic Integrity

This is the second post in a series about Teaching Writing in the Age of AI. In the first post, I wrote broadly about academic integrity and how to create assignments which can work with and in opposition to AI like ChatGPT. In this video post, I discuss how to talk about academic integrity with your students.

I’ve turned my previous post – Practical Strategies for ChatGPT in Education – into a live webinar for February the 16th. Click here for details


Leon: [00:00:00] Hi, and welcome to this short video about academic integrity and how to talk to your students about academic integrity. This is part of a short series that I’m putting together on the lead up to some professional development around teaching writing in the age of ai. The age of AI sounds very dramatic.

But it’s certainly true that this year we’ve seen a massive increase in the media hype and speculation around AI technologies like Chat G P T, and the impact that they’re gonna have on the classroom. And I think that one of those important conversations has been around things like cheating and plagiarism.

And academic integrity more broadly. Now, I’m of the opinion that if we have these conversations with students early and often, it’s much easier for us to build a relationship with students where academic integrity is more about trust than it is about holding people accountable. So first of all, what is academic integrity?

It’s about producing work in an ethical and a responsible way, and encouraging other [00:01:00] people in the community to do . So academic integrity is really about a culture in your school or in your tertiary institution, and it’s a culture of making sure that we understand the rules and regulations and that we follow those rules and regulations.

But the students and teachers are both aware of why they’re following those rules and regulations in the first place. So it is common for university students to talk about academic integrity, and many universities have academic integrity modules, but it’s less common for people to talk about it in secondary school.

I think that it’s absolutely necessary to start these conversations as early as possible, and I like to frame this conversation around four areas. Trust, fairness, accuracy, and accountability. Trust comes first because academic integrity is really about building trust between the students and the teachers.

The teachers need to trust that the students are doing the right thing, that they’re using these technologies , and that they’re [00:02:00] not plagiarizing or copying or getting other people to do their work for them. We also need to understand that fairness is a key component of academic integrity.

If one student decides to cheat or get somebody else to do their work for. Then the teacher is gonna still probably spend the same amount of time grading that work as they would spend grading a student’s work who spent hours and hours toiling over a particular assessment task. And that’s not fair.

It’s not fair that students who cheat and students who don’t cheat get graded on the same kind of scale and might come out with the same kinds of marks and students get this. You know, they understand that in their cohort amongst their peers, if one person is doing something to, to cheat or to game the system, they know that that’s not fair to the other students.

And this is really just about having that conversation with them. And I think in my experience, that students have that inherent kind of sense of justice. And when we present them with a system which is fair and equitable, they respond in. Accuracy is really important too. [00:03:00] We know from experience now that things like chat g p T can produce inaccurate responses.

We also know that through sloppy research methods that humans can produce inaccurate responses to. So whether it’s through taking a chat G P T response verbatim, or looking on Google and not really digging into those links and those sources for credibility, accuracy is a really important part of academic.

 Accuracy is also important when it comes to referencing and citing work. So when we look at some examples in a moment of academic integrity, we’ll talk about citations and referencing. And finally, accountability. Now, accountability is often where these stories start. So if we look in the media and the hype around Chet G P T, a lot of that is around academic accountability, cheating and plagiarism.

I think that we need to start in the other areas of trust and fairness in particular first, but obviously accountability is an important part of this convers. So in terms of guidelines, I would always look to the tertiary sector for some really [00:04:00] clear guidelines around academic integrity. And these vary from one university to another, but there’s obviously a lot of overlap between universities.

So these academic integrity essentials come from Monash University and their website. Be honest and submit your own work in your. So you are guaranteeing that the work that’s created for a specific assessment task is your work, and you guarantee that you haven’t previously submitted any other parts of the work without obviously citing that you’ve done.

So secondly, being fair and acknowledging the work of others. So again, citing sources, reading critically, taking good quality notes paraphrasing, quoting, and making sure that it’s really clear. What are your ideas and what are somebody else’s. And finally, Being respectful when with others. So if you’re working as part of a group, we’re acknowledging the work of every single person in a group.

We’re also not doing an assessment on behalf of someone else. So we’re not carrying the group on behalf of everybody in the group, and we’re not letting other people around us [00:05:00] do the work for us. In terms of chat, G P T specifically, I shared these recently, which came through in a blog post from Deacon University because I thought that this was a, a great example of starting that conversation about chat G P T and academic integrity.

So Deacon University is encouraging students to experiment and use these tools as part of their assignments, but weaving that into their existing academic integrity policies and talking about how we might do that responsibly. So using AI as a tool to assist in research and writing, but not as a replacement for critical thinking, ensuring that you appropriately cite and reference any text.

Generated by an AI along with any other sources, and I have seen comments in other places around including these discussions in introductions and methodologies at a tertiary level. Obviously for secondary students, that might be as simple as just having the conversation with the teacher to indicate where you’ve used those tools.

Understanding the AI tools limitations and using it in conjunction with [00:06:00] other sources. So knowing that it presents a credibility issue, knowing that it can sometimes talk about inaccurate things and that it can be biased. Being aware of the broader academic integrity policies and ultimately making sure that the final product is your own work and not just copied straight from the AI generator.

So for secondary schools, what should we do next? Well, if you haven’t got one, I think you really need to work on an. Academic integrity policy. I’m sure many schools have academic integrity policies or they have this conversation as part of a broader policy, but it is definitely time to revisit and refine those in light of the technologies that have come out this year.

We also need to get buy-in from students, so getting students to contribute to those academic integrity policies could be really useful. Many universities have a course in academic integrity that all students are required to do as part of their orientation. And I think it would be a really good idea for schools to develop an academic integrity course that all students do.

[00:07:00] Many schools that I’ve seen have a research course or they have a unit of work, sometimes in the English classroom, sometimes through the library where students learn how to research. So academic integrity could definitely be a part of that. And remember, This is about educating, not about punishing, although accountability is an important part of this.

I think if we have these conversations openly with students, then we avoid the necessary accountability conversation down the track. So finally, where’s this going next? Well, teaching writing in the age of AI will be a series of blog posts, short videos like this and information that’s going to come out around some of the changes that we’re gonna have to make in how we teach writing.

I put a, a poll up on LinkedIn and got quite a lot of responses there around the biggest concerns with writing in the age of AI and students using it to cheat was a really, really small concern, which was great. So most people are worried about keeping up with the technology and the rapid [00:08:00] pace of change and on declining writing skills in general, and the impact that technologies will have on that.

If you go to my blog at leonfurze.com/blog, you’ll be able to stay up to date with all of the other posts and resources around this conversation, and I hope that you are able to have a robust and healthy conversation with your students about academic integrity and that we start building that trust and fairness into all of our assessments in secondary school.


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3 responses to “Teaching Writing in the Age of AI: Talking About Academic Integrity”

  1. […] Teaching Writing in the Age of AI Teaching Writing in the Age of AI: Talking About Academic Integrity […]

  2. […] an overview of some of the changes we’re facing as the number of AI writing tools increases. Post two covered conversations about academic integrity, and the third post offered some practical advice on teaching students to be critical readers and […]

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