“I will not grade this chat Gpt shit,” Jared Mumm, an agricultural sciences and natural resources instructor at Texas A&M University–Commerce, wrote to one of his students this week, according to The Washington Post. Mumm had suspected that this student and others had used ChatGPT, the AI-powered chat bot, in his animal science course. In an email to the students that was reposted and went viral on Reddit, Mumm let the students know that all would all receive an X for “incomplete.” Those deemed guilty of using the AI-powered chat bot would receive a zero.
But Mumm’s approach to determining the authenticity of the students’ prose was misguided. He had copied the students’ writing into ChatGPT and asked the bot whether it had written the prose. ChatGPT is not designed to detect AI-generated writing. AI-writing detection tools exist, but they deliver verdicts in probabilities. As such, even high probability scores may not foretell whether an author was sentient.
Mumm’s panicked students and their allies took to Reddit to detail the distress.
“[My fiancée] reached out to me very upset yesterday after she had already graduated because they were withholding her diploma due to this,” a Reddit poster told PC Magazine. “She was particularly upset because she has never heard of ChatGPT before.”
Since the start of the year, colleges leaders have raced to build and bolster their AI infrastructure and offerings in what some have dubbed an AI “gold rush,” even as they troubleshoot in real time. As faculty members contend with academe’s new ChatGPT-infused reality, many are scrambling to redesign assignments. But understanding how to help students mitigate risks and realize opportunities largely remains a work in progress.
Sometimes, such efforts require college officials to release statements indicating that they do not yet know what went wrong, as apparently is the case in Texas.
“University officials are investigating the incident and developing policies to address the use or misuse of AI technology in the classroom,” a Texas A&M spokesperson told Insider in a statement. “A&M-Commerce confirms that no students failed the class or were barred from graduating because of this issue. Dr. Jared Mumm, the class professor, is working individually with students regarding their last written assignments.”