A new research project is dispelling the myth that generative AI will fuel plagiarism in education settings, highlighting instead the truth around Gen Z’s attitudes towards the technology.
Conducted by YouthInsight, Student Edge the study of more than 500 people aged 14-26 found that a minority (9 percent) would use tools like ChatGPT to this effect – a similar proportion that already engage in contract cheating to write their assignments.
“It won’t increase the number of students who plagiarise, it will just give them a different avenue. So it is quite disappointing to hear so many discussions around generative AI focussing on this issue,” said Research Director Dr Anna Denejkina, ahead of the AI in Education Conference.
While the last few years have seen an increase in student plagiarism, the researchers say it has nothing to do with the advent of generative AI and suggest other, more social, factors may be at play.
“There is no evidence to suggest that those that have never plagiarised before will suddenly develop an inclination towards it, just because they have access to ChatGPT.
“What we have seen in that timeframe is a decline in student wellbeing and more students having to balance work alongside their studies. Students are under more pressure now than they have ever been and that is more likely to be driving the increase.
“If schools and universities want to reduce plagiarism it is worth taking a deeper look at some of these systemic issues and working out how to better support their students. The emphasis should be on support, not punishment.”
Universities who are embracing generative AI should also think about their messaging surrounding the technology, Dr Denejkina said.
“It is important educators communicate to students appropriately about tools like ChatGPT. We need to ensure that people aren’t shamed into thinking they are plagiarising if they are just using it for upskilling or help.”
The study also revealed gender disparities in generative AI capability and says teachers should be mindful of these, too.
“Generally women and girls report lower self-confidence when using AI technology than men or boys, so measures will need to be taken to provide adequate support and avoid gender discrepancies, such as those already seen in STEM more broadly.”
Lastly, the research found a significant amount of concern around the technology, with almost one in five young people reconsidering their study and career pathways as a result of its ubiquity.
“For some it’s about pivoting into tech, for others it’s concerns about job displacement. I think a key takeaway from this is that we need to support students in recognising how AI can aid their roles and embrace it to improve productivity.”
Dr Anna Denejkina is Research Director for YouthInsight, who produced the Young People’s Perception and Use of Generative AI report.
Talking more about the research and its implications for the education sector, Dr Denejkina will present at the upcoming AI in Higher Education Conference.
Headline speakers include Prof. Romy Lawson, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Students), Flinders University; Dr Stefan Popenici, Academic Lead – Quality Initiatives, Charles Darwin University; and Associate Professor Danny Liu, Educational Innovation Team, Office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education) The University of Sydney.
This year’s event will be held on 11 October at the PARKROYAL Darling Harbour Sydney.
Learn more and register.