Following ChatGPT’s release to the public in late 2022, the ANU, like other academic institutions around the world, implemented its own set of guidelines on the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in academic work. 

These guidelines are largely in line with pre-existing academic integrity rules, stating that students “need to be able to use them effectively”, including citing ChatGPT appropriately “whenever [they] paraphrase, quote, or incorporate into [their] own work any content that was created by it.” 

The University has also encouraged students to “use generative AI as a research/brainstorming prompt to guide [them] towards superior, substantiated sources.”

An ANU spokesperson told Woroni that the University aims to teach students “how to harness the power of AI for assessment in ways that support their learning but do not breach our standards of academic integrity.” 

They explained the University has “robust pedagogy, assessment, systems and policies in place to prevent academic misconduct and catch potential incidents”, though the spokesperson confirmed “the University is still evaluating the use of Turnitin’s AI detection tool.” The University currently does not use the tool. 

Associate Dean of Education for the College of Science, Associate Professor Merryn McKinnon, says the University’s decision to turn off the tool is due to the “ethical considerations.” The dean admits, “it is very difficult at the moment to tell when a student has used ChatGPT.” 

However, McKinnon affirms that, “conveners rely mostly on students’ past work and their own expertise to know what should and should not be included in a paper.” 

At present, any AI-related academic breach undergoes the standard investigation process, where the University would “look for appropriate evidence and indicators of academic misconduct before any outcome was reached.” 

Students also ”retain the same right to participate in an academic integrity review whilst a finding is being reached and then appeal the outcome on the grounds as outlined in that policy and procedure as for any other review process”, according to CAP’s Associate Dean of Education, Associate Professor Mathew Davies. 

The recommendations surrounding ChatGPT usage are standardised across all colleges. 

Interim Dean for the College of Engineering, Computing and Cybernetics (CECC), Professor Stephen Eggins states, “individual colleges don’t have their own policies and procedures, rather all colleges follow ANU principles that have been developed to guide use and approaches to ChatGPT.” Eggins also noted, however, that within those guidelines, how ChatGPT can actually be used “is up to the convener and depends on the nature and learning outcomes of the course.”

Associate Deans of Education across colleges have expressed varying opinions on whether ChatGPT can be beneficial.

Associate Professor McKinnon maintains that for the College of Science, where critical reviews, lab reports, data analysis and infographics are the main types of assessments, “AI can be useful as it elicits a lot of responses.”

Mckinnon acknowledges that AI “is a tool that is likely to permeate [students’] professional lives” and may even “replace Science as a tool, but not as a discipline.” According to her, “Science is a human endeavour and problem solving and diversity of thought is what makes Science good”, a factor she states is absent in AI. She noted ongoing discussions on “whether ChatGPT meets the requirements to be listed as an author on a paper” which “raises interesting questions about the future of scientific research, what is ethical and acceptable….”

Likewise, College of Arts and Social Sciences (CASS) Associate Dean of Student Experience and Integrity, Dr Claire Hansen, says that the College mainly focuses “on exploring risks and opportunities.” She affirmed that ChatGPT usage in CASS’ essay-heavy assignments is acceptable, as long as “good scholarly practice like acknowledging and referencing any work that isn’t the student’s own” is followed. 

Dr Hansen says that it is “impossible to predict something that’s still developing”, but accepts that “there will always be a place for [technology] in the arts.” 

The University “recognises that the use of AI tools by students can support their learning” and that “the application of AI tools in some professions is growing.” 

This is particularly relevant for CECC, where Professor Eggins says that ChatGPT usage includes “opportunities for rapid feedback, use in creative aspects such as design work and concept generation,” though students must be able to “critically evaluate outcomes from generative AI tools” and properly “understand their uses and limitations.” 

Speaking specifically on computing programs, he says it is especially important to “[develop] student understanding of how such tools are built and used and the concepts and approaches that underpin generative AI tools.” 

College of Business and Economics (CBE) Associate Dean of Education, Dr Dana Hanna, told Woroni that generative AI has “great potential to [be] used creatively towards the later stages of the [learning] journey”, as well as to increase educational accessibility, though using it too early has its share of downsides “especially when a student is unable to critically [evaluate] the output.”

ChatGPT’s emergence in academia remains an ongoing topic of discussion. The tool, like its many predecessors, has the potential to bring about drastic change, though the true nature and extent of its impacts are yet to be seen.

For now, as outlined in the University’s Generative AI guide, all colleges urge students to confer with their course conveners on the uses of generative AI tools like ChatGPT in academic work. The University also encourages students to “contact the ANU Library Academic Skills team on +61 2 6125 2972 or if they need further assistance.”

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