How English Classes will Change with ChatGPT

Julian Meyer
Julian MeyerApril 14, 2024 Learn about AI

Benefits of ChatGPT for English Classes

As artificial intelligence technologies become more integrated into educational systems, they bring new challenges and opportunities. One area of growing concern among educators is the potential for AI tools like ChatGPT to facilitate cheating and plagiarism in English classes. This post will explain how English teachers can evolve the structure of their class as AI becomes more popular.

How have new technologies affected cheating?

Historically, technological advancements have both challenged and enhanced educational integrity. For instance, the introduction of spell check tools allowed students to correct their work without fully understanding grammar rules, similar to current concerns about AI-generated essays.

  • Grammarly/Spellcheck: instead of learning grammar concepts and spelling, students may rely on grammar and spell checkers to ensure that their essay is free from mistakes.
    • Solution: many teachers now allow these tools to be used as long as they are cited
  • Essay Writing Services: Essay writing services have existed for a long time as well. Worse yet, only affluent students can afford the high price per essay.
    • Solution: Some teachers are able to tell when an essay was not written by the student, but it's difficult to prove.
  • Calculators: Although this isn't applicable to English classes, no math course does take-home exams since students could easily cheat.
    • Solution: Avoid take-home math exams.

Tools that can be used for cheating have always evolved to either: (1) teachers allowing usage in the classroom, or (2) disallowed through some imperfect means.

How can I detect ChatGPT usage?

What problems do teachers face with ChatGPT?

The short answer is: you can't detect ChatGPT usage unless the student's cheating is egregious. Detecting AI-generated content like ChatGPT's output is complex and currently not foolproof.

Students have learned how to make their essays sound similar to the grade level, and the output of ChatGPT is not easily detectable.

So, the next question is, how can students be assessed if tools like ChatGPT exist?

How can students be assessed in the age of ChatGPT?

First, let's understand the main objectives of English assignments:

  1. For students: Get valuable writing practice that will help the student learn how to write better.
  2. For teachers: Assess the student on how much they've practiced and learned throughout the year.
  3. For teachers: Understand common mistakes that students are making in their essays.

Before ChatGPT, take-home English essays satisfied all of these requirements, but there are many downsides now in the age of ChatGPT.

  • Students can easily cheat using ChatGPT on take-home assignments.
  • Teachers spend a TON of time grading essays, or don't give enough feedback for students to be able to improve.
  • Students stress over essays that are high stakes where they only have 1 chance which greatly affects their final grade.

The Future of English Grading

How AI will change English practice and assessment

We predict three things will happen as a result of ChatGPT.

  1. In-class essays and essays in a controlled settings are the only way to properly assess students. Otherwise, students can always use ChatGPT to write or improve their essay while sacrificing their own writing voice.
  2. Take-home essays will be for low-stakes practice only. This is actually a good thing: students will have more of an opportunity to experiment with different writing styles, and not have as many stressful essays.
  3. Teachers will use AI to help grade and give feedback on these practice essays. This is great because students will get more feedback on work that doesn't affect their grade so they feel more prepared when they need to take a writing assessment. Tools like AutoMark can help with this.

English class assessments and practice will look more like math classes: low-stakes practice at home, and in-class assessments that students can prepare for.

How can I use AI positively in my English class?

Using AI regularly will prepare students for the future of work, but preventing cheating on assessments is still an important problem to solve. By allowing students to practice writing more often, teachers can give more feedback that will help students write better essays. Practice makes perfect.

Here are some ways to use AI in your English class:

  1. Use AI to grade practice essays: AI can give students feedback on their writing practice, so they can improve their writing skills. AutoMark can help with this.
  2. Use AI in group projects to help students brainstorm ideas: ChatGPT can help students come up with ideas for their group projects.
  3. Use AI to help students with grammar and spelling: Grammarly and other tools can help students with grammar and spelling, but it's important to teach students how to use these tools effectively. ChatGPT can give specific examples and practice for students struggling with certain concepts.

Detecting AI and plagiarism is not foolproof. Only the most egregious cases of cheating can be caught, and essay writing services still remain an issue.

By adopting AI, English classes will evolve from a few take-home essays per year to many practice essays throughout the year with a few in-class essays to assess students.

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