AI vs. Turnitin

Turnitin logo - photo courtesy of Advanced Publications

Turnitin logo – photo courtesy of Advanced Publications

John (Yedong) Kim, Staff Writer

Through the development of techs, such as ChatGPT and other engines, AI has become a tool for many students to use when writing essays, homework, and other school material. The AI function known as ChatGPT, allows its users to write about virtually any topic in a matter of seconds. It can also be utilized by students to cheat on various forms of written work. This problem, rapidly arising because of AI’s growth in the past year has led many administrators and school-managed sites to begin adapting. 

ChatGPT logo – photo courtesy of OpenAI

Turnitin is a service commonly used by many American school teachers and administrators. Whilst having many functions, the main service provided by the site is to be a plagiarism detector. This system was used by teachers to search for any plagiarized works within student writing. 

This system previously would not alert teachers on submissions written by ChatGPT, as it was entirely scripted by the AI itself, and not published on the internet. This allowed students to bypass plagiarism detection. 

This presents a major problem for teachers and students alike. Cheating through ChatGPT allows for the sowing of dishonesty and disrespect to be circulated throughout a classroom, and also makes it so that students wouldn’t be able to properly engage in the material the teacher was teaching. Thus, they won’t be comfortable with the subjects that would gauge their performance in the class. This leads to a dip in grades, an event that does not truthfully reflect on either student or teacher, as it was the use of AI tools that led to this, and not a measurement of true effort on the student/teacher’s part. 

However, many plagiarism sites, such as Turnitin, have been responding to this AI issue. They have developed systems that are able to detect the usage of ChatGPT within their submissions and flag down any works that have utilized the tool. 

Turnitin themselves states that “Our model has been trained specifically on academic writing sourced from a comprehensive database, as opposed to solely publicly available content. As a result, Turnitin is more tuned to finding instances of potential dishonesty in student assignments.” This shows how Turnitin, and potentially many other plagiarism detectors, can now detect the use of AI tools such as ChatGPT. 

Although this may come to the irritation of many students who wish to use AI to slide by in classes and keep their life easy, it also serves as a helpful reminder to know that although cheating seems simple now, it could serve disastrous consequences in the future. Not only does AI cheating make it harder to pass a class independently, but also the detection of such behavior, which is now possible, can affect a student’s future. 

AI cheating can develop unhealthy patterns in students: if they do not have the writing skill to complete assignments, they will heavily lack the vital skills necessary for future careers and work. Grand Canyon University states that “it’s the fuel that drives communication, and communication serves as a framework for society. Clear communication—and hence, good writing—is critical because it facilitates coworker collaborations, business transactions, and interpersonal interactions.” 

Similarly, Cecil Smith, Co-Founder of West Virginia University states that “It has been demonstrated, across a variety of investigations, that writing activities yield a number of intellectual, physiological, and emotional benefits to individuals…” 

Writing can be something that provides tangible benefit to a person, in more ways than one. Smith continues on, saying, “These benefits include improved memory function, decreased symptomatology, and greater feelings of happiness.” 

This shows the extreme importance of writing skills, not just in careers but also in daily life across all aspects of student well-being, and thus also why using AI tools isn’t just bad for a student’s course, but also for their health. 

Thus, despite the rise of AI tools in schoolwork, the development of AI cheating detectors could deter students from using such methods, and allow their own skills to independently flourish, as per the goal of all teachers.