College Students Are Using AI-Powered Chat Bots to Cheat in School

A South Carolina college professor is sounding the alarm on the use of advanced chatbots powered by artificial intelligence by students to complete various assignments.

Darren Hick, an assistant philosophy professor at Furman University, claims that one of his students used ChatGPT, an advanced AI-powered chatbot recently released by OpenAI and freely available to the public, to create a philosophy essay. While checking the essays turned in by his students, one caught his eye because of the unusual wording. It wasn’t grammatically incorrect, but it wasn’t language that a human college student would use. Hick compared it to the work “of a very smart 12th grader,” adding that the chatbot’s capacity to produce original works both terrorized and fascinated him.

Photo: Kenny Eliason/Unsplash

“It’s a clean style. But it’s recognizable. I would say it writes like a very smart 12th-grader,” the college professor said. “There’s particular odd wording used that was not wrong, just peculiar … if you were teaching somebody how to write an essay, this is how you tell them to write it before they figure out their own style.”

Hick had tasked his students at Furman University with writing a 500-word essay on 18th-century philosopher David Hume and the paradox of horror, as a take-home test. While checking the essays, the philosophy professor noticed that one featured particularly “rudimentary” answers and an unusual style. He immediately suspected AI use, so he decided to test for it.

First, he plugged the text into a software tool created by the producers of ChatGPT, to determine if it had been produced by artificial intelligence. The result was a 99.9% likely match. Then Hick tried producing his own essay with ChatGPT using a series of questions he imagined his students would use. The result what similar to the suspicious essay, but not a direct match, as the AI-powered chatbot produces unique results every time.


Left with no other way to prove that the essay had been created by AI, Darren Hick confronted the student and managed to get a confession out of him. The suspect had indeed used the ChatGPT chatbot to produce the essay, and thus failed the class and was also turned over to the college dean.

After uncovering the truth, the assistant professor shared the experience on Facebook and was surprised to learn that other colleagues had caught their students doing the same thing. This left him wondering how he and others will be able to catch such cheating in the future, since AI-powered tools are only getting more advanced.

“This is learning software — in a month, it’ll be smarter. In a year, it’ll be smarter,” he said. “I feel the mix myself between abject terror and what this is going to mean for my day-to-day job — but it’s also fascinating, it’s endlessly fascinating.”

Cheating in school isn’t what it used to be, that’s for sure…

Posted in News        Tags: , , , , , ,