Artificial Intelligence, such as CHAT GPT, has arrived and is challenging longstanding academic integrity guidelines within higher education.
To help your Christian college meet this urgent need, below are four suggestions to include in your institution’s Academic Integrity Policy Statements. The first two you may already have. The last two may need to be added.
1. A “Cheating” Statement
An Academic Integrity Policy should first include a general and broad statement, that cheating of any kind will not be tolerated at the institution.
As faith-based institutions, we can add ideas of ethics and morality, not based on a philosophy, but upon Scripture. Our students should recognize that we have higher expectations than secular institutions because whatever we do, we work at it with our whole being, for the Lord and not for men, as the apostle Paul wrote in Colossians 3:23.
Your university cheating statement should include the following:
- A broad and general definition, or description of, cheating—what constitutes cheating in the academy.
- An expansive statement that cheating is not just what is listed above but includes anything that a group of reasonable adults would consider cheating.
- A list of possible, but not complete, punishments for any violation of the Academic Integrity Policy (failure on the assignment, failure of the course, suspension, expulsion, etc.).
- The idea that multiple occurrences of cheating by the student will result in more severe punishments.
2. A Plagiarism Statement
Plagiarism statements often include a definition and some discussion about how that might play out in an academic institution.
A typical discussion of plagiarism will include the concept of theft of intellectual property, improper or incomplete attribution, and the student’s intentionality, or unintentionality, of passing the work off as their own.
Plagiarism is not just stealing quotations (cutting and pasting from a document), but also using words, thoughts, or data without proper citation.
Attribution through citations does play out differently in different cultures and times. As a higher education institution in the US, it is expected that students would conform to the American standards for citing sources in academic works, especially if they intend on pursuing graduate work.
Citing works is not just about plagiarism; we cite our resources for several reasons, among them are
- to give honor and credit to the original author,
- to demonstrate the breadth and depth of research done, and
- to give the reader the opportunity to find, read, and come to their own conclusion about the research.
Your college plagiarism statement should include the following:
- A definition of plagiarism. It does not have to focus on the theft of intellectual property, but it can.
- A connection of plagiarism to the definition of cheating and that the punishments are the same.
- The idea that plagiarism is not a matter of intent, but of incident. Plagiarism occurs whether the student intended to cheat or if it was an accident. If it occurs, it should be punished.
One of the greatest means of defeating plagiarism is to cite sources while the student writes—don’t input citations after writing the paper, but while writing the paper.
3. An Artificial Intelligence Collaboration Statement
Academic integrity policies need to emphasize personal responsibility; that the individual student is responsible for what gets turned in. It is their composition, their thoughts, in their words, that may include the words, thoughts, and data from others, but properly attributed to them.
If the student wants their name on their transcripts and on their degree, then the work must be theirs.
Their writing, their research is about how they contribute to the scholarly conversation. That’s a major goal of an education. The student learns from others and then contributes; they join the scholarly conversation.
A work that is the product of an AI is really a collaboration between the student and the Artificial Intelligence algorithm. The student enters prompts and steers the AI into writing what the student wants or needs. It is an uneven collaboration between the student and the computer program.
Your Student / AI collaboration statement should encompass these ideas:
- Grades should be based on the quantity and quality of the work done by each student / author.
- Each part of a collaboration (maybe even down to the sentence) should be identifiable as to whose ideas are whose and who wrote what. The students can identify their work in the “comments” section or in a separate document.
- The amount of work allowed by an Artificial Intelligence program will be up to the instructor and the nature of the work.
4. Your Christian College AI Statement
For now, AI is generally being treated like Wikipedia was in its beginning; forbid it until we figure out if and how we can use it.
Eventually, AI will be a tool that may be used in the college classroom. Some have already figured out ways to incorporate it in assignments. We just need to figure out how to use it ethically and in ways that advance the educational purposes of the Christian college course and university.
Your university AI statement might include, at minimum, these policies:
- AI should be allowed and encouraged in courses where the instructor chooses to use it. This is based upon the academic freedom of classroom instructors. The instructor chooses textbooks, lecture materials, and assessments. Choosing to use AI for an assignment should be part of their duties.
- AI is only allowed when stated explicitly in the instructions by the faculty member. When in doubt, AI is not allowed.
- AI may be allowed as a computer aid for accessibility purposes. Some students already use computer generated translations as an aid for academic work. AI is more creative but may be a potential help for some students with certain processing difficulties.
Such a policy statement is necessary but also temporary. In a few years from now, Artificial Intelligence will be viewed more as a tool (I hope). Therefore, any AI Statement your Christian college develops must be revisited, often, for the next decade or so.