Going to college is challenging and definitely not for the faint of heart. Many students are juggling a whole lot of other responsibilities on top of their studies. Some have chosen to do double majors or have a bunch of elective courses over and above those required for their major. Many students have full-time jobs on top of their studies and simply don’t have the time to write essay after essay, especially if these projects don’t count towards their grades or aren’t remotely connected to their major or fields of interest. Some professors (of course) like to hand out busy-work, giving students papers to write that aren’t strictly necessary and don’t count toward their grades. As a result, students are stressed out, stretched thin, and looking for ways to lighten their workload. Enter ChatGPT, which, on the surface, looks like the answer to these stressed, frustrated, overworked students’ prayers. So what these students want to know is, can teachers tell if I use ChatGPT? Let’s look at the facts, as the answer may surprise you.
So what is ChatGPT, and how does it work?
ChatGPT is a large language model that mimics human communication and writing. It can process prompts and compose answers, whether for emails, business letters, speeches, or essays. How does it do that? ChatGPT is one form of what is referred to as “generative AI,” which means it draws on all the information it can find to create something new, be it a piece of writing, music, or art. In simple terms, it is a more advanced version of chatbots used on websites to answer customers’ questions.
These chatbots are simplified examples of generative AI. This technology allows ChatGPT and other programs like it to respond to human prompts and incorporate the feedback it gets to grow its knowledge database.
So the question remains: Can teachers tell if I use ChatGPT?
Unfortunately, the short answer is yes, teachers can tell if you use ChatGPT. Just as security programs like McAfee Antivirus are constantly racing for better technology against hackers and viruses, AI detection programs continually improve to keep up with advances in ChatGPT and other content-generating models. Educational centers and universities have caught up with the advances in AI-generative models and have access to detection software like TurnItIn and GPTZero, which detects which parts of the essay have been written by AI. It then compiles a report showing the percentage of the paper generated by AI and highlighting the relevant passages. Here is an extreme example of what that looks like on TurnItIn:
Just FYI, I generated that text myself using ChatGPT, went through it, and changed a word here and there. As you can see, I was no match for TurnItIn.
So, can teachers tell if I use ChatGPT? Yes, my friend, they can.
ChatGPT relies on its GPT part - which stands for Generative Pre-Trained Transformer - to process the prompts entered and develop suitable answers. It uses human feedback to reinforce learning and reward models that rank the most accurate responses. It uses this feedback to continually improve through what is known as machine learning. That sounds fantastic and is an excellent solution for tired, over-stressed students. But there’s a catch, of course. The thing is, ChatGPT doesn’t have the ability to reason or engage in critical thinking like we do. It scours the Internet and finds all the bits of data its algorithm decides is relevant to your topic. It then mimics human sentence structure to string these bits of data, in the form of words, together to “write” your essay. The software itself has no knowledge of the language. It simply works on generating text using the knowledge that has been fed into it. It cannot tell whether a sentence actually makes sense or whether it is true in a scientific sense. It can’t even read with understanding like we do. However, it can give a sort of reasonable impression of doing so. So, what does it look like when it gets it wrong? Well, there is one instance I saw where the student simply cut and pasted the output from ChatGPT and ended up with something along these lines in the middle of their paragraph:
…because I am just an AI language model and not a human being, I don’t personally have a favorite beach in XX, but many people choose …
You get the idea. Here is another, by now rather infamous, example of what it looks like when ChatGPT gets it wrong:
Yes, in a manner of speaking, it is indeed. If you thought you could play the system using a different AI generative large language model, I have bad news for you. Two new favorites, Jenni.AI and Jarvis.AI, are just ChatGPT with some lipstick on. OpenAI’s ChatGPT engine still powers it, so you can’t rely on it to write your essay. The same detection software, like TurnItIn or OpenAI’s AI Classifier, will detect in a hot second that your homework assignment is the product of an AI content-generative model.
OK, you’ve heard that you’re not supposed to use AI to write your papers for you, but it is Sunday night, you have a big report due tomorrow, and you are pressed for time. What’s the worst that could happen if you use AI to write your essay and get caught? Is it really true? Can teachers tell if I use ChatGPT? According to education lawyers, you can land yourself in big trouble, such as facing disciplinary committees, receiving a failing grade, being put on academic probation, and even being expelled. At Yale, for example, violating their academic integrity policy can result in suspension for two semesters. Using AI to write your paper would fall under this policy. Harvard University explicitly states in its honor code that any violation of academic integrity contravenes its community standards and can be punishable with expulsion and dismissal.
As outlined above, teachers can definitely detect whether you have used AI to generate your essays. Does that mean you are back to square one, having to write countless pages of essay material yourself? Not necessarily. There are other, much more reliable ways to get help with your written assignments. Having a real-life human specialist write your essay for you is a lifeline for students who, for various reasons, cannot or do not want to write it themselves. Killer Papers is among the best writing services for high school and college students. They have a large team of professional writers who specialize in specific fields and are paid to write essays of any length on students’ behalf.
So, are you still wondering, “Can teachers tell if I use ChatGPT?” Well, as you can see from the above, the answer is yes.
But do not despair. There are still ways of getting around having to do it all by yourself.
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