CNU Faculty Deals with Chat GPT

Staff Writer shares faculty’s and his thoughts on Chat GPT increasing dishonesty


While ChatGPT and other AI programs like it are reaching mainstream prominence, amazing and sparking interest in this area of technological innovation, and conversations around new applications of this technology for the benefit of mankind are common. However, in education the conversation in higher education is somewhat different, as educators find themselves looking to adapt to these new conditions.

What is especially concerning is the chance for students to cheat on their assignments using these programs, shielding themselves behind written text that passes as any human, but is actually generated in only a few minutes. CNU Faculty were eager to share their opinions with the Captain’s Log on the subject, and did so via a google form.

In a question that asked “Do you feel as though students within your courses have used programs like ChatGPT for the purpose of cheating?” Ten responded ‘maybe’, the other ten responded ‘no’, and only one of these professors actually responded with ‘yes’.  While this ratio may come across as optimistic, the CNU faculty then offered their perspective on the subject of these AI technologies.

Professor Andrew Kirkpatrick, professor and political science department chair for CNU, offers the following reasoning: “I think (AI Programs are) incredibly serious for high school teachers, and for freshman courses that rely on essay prompts. It doesn’t seem to me that ChatGPT can write a good, well-cited research paper that would be acceptable in an upper-level course… yet.”

Though while that speaks to the capabilities of these programs, there is something to be said for the character of the CNU student body, that is captured in answers provided by Will Connell, a history professor with a specialization in Latin America: “The problem is only the newest in a series of ways that students who are inclined to cheat might choose to – in my experience, that is a very small minority of students at CNU. Wikipedia and other online encyclopedia presented a similar problem 20 years ago, before that, students who wished to cheat just copied out of books.  Most do not and would not. The academic misconduct I see comes from students who are not as prepared as they should be to do the work and do not for whatever reason ask for assistance.”

In many of the perspectives shared with the Captain’s Log, many express their indifference on the subject and compare the integration of these new technologies with the invention and proliferation of Calculators and Online Search Engines. Jonathan Backens of the Physics, Computer Science, and Engineering department perhaps said it best: “ChatGPT is a tool not a problem. LLM tools like ChatGPT are never going away and so just like spell check, the personal computer, the calculator, the internet … it becomes part of our lives.”

Some couched their opinions in sufficiently preparing students for a career with these technologies, Randy Manspile in the Luter School of Business says: “I think it’s a serious opportunity.  ChatGPT is only one of many technologies that is continuing to disrupt how businesses deliver their goods and services.  Education is not immune from these same challenges. Our opportunity is to mimic the business world our graduates go into so they are as equipped as possible to be successful.  This is the fun part; combining the essentials of a liberal arts school (ethics, social sciences, smart competencies) with technology and innovation.” Dae-hee Kim, also of the Luter School of Business, echoed this idea: “ChatGPT is raising many foundational questions in college education such as what the value of human knowlege is and why we still need to learn…”

Alan Skees in the Fine Arts shared a similar sentiment: “For the visual arts AI tools are a double edged sword. I’ve already implemented narrow AI tools in the classroom for years. They are important tools to know how to use. We already have students using generative tools like Midjorney and Stable Diffusion on thesis projects this semester. I feel future success in the commercial arts will be divided by the people who use AI and those that don’t.”

Kyle Garton-Gundling, a professor of English, admits that ChatGPT is: “Not exclusively a ‘problem,’ but the implications are definitely ‘serious’; we’ll have to change how we teach, whether we exclude or incorporate AI.” Taiyi Sun, a professor in the Political Science Department goes even further, saying that these AI programs are: “Not serious. ChatGPT could potentially provide students with new perspectives and improve critical thinking if used right. Also, if an assignment could be easily done by ChatGPT, it is probably not a good assignment. We professors have to adapt and adjust… New technologies will always emerge and the new generations will have to live with those technologies and, often, benefit from additional helps. As long as our rules and pedagogy are updated and coherent, we should embrace the arrival of the future.”