Academic Honesty: A Thing of the Past

Dana Falardeau , Journalist

Cheating. We hear about scandals of cheating every year. Throughout history, cheating has prevailed and co-evolved with academics. Whether it be copying or writing answers on a note to online answer keys, students have always looked for ways to cut corners. Academic Honesty has plummeted in the past few years due to COVID transitioning schools to online schooling. This has allowed students more opportunities to cheat requiring less effort. When asked about academic honesty and its promotion in schools, journalism teacher Ms. Mcshane comments “I think honesty is 100% promoted amongst teachers because we’re not just talking about academic honesty, we’re talking about honesty in general and integrity and that’s something that needs to be taught.” Many teachers agree and especially the English language arts teacher believes they have a new challenge to face. 

Chat GTP. Chat GTP is the newest tool released by OpenAI. The website uses artificial intelligence from millions of online resources to do almost anything, including solving math equations in step-by-step fashion, writing essays, and coding programs given limited prompting. I myself decided to use the software and found it extremely impressive. Unlike other AI of the nature, Chat GTP doesn’t just splice together parts of analyzed essays, it learns paragraph and idea formatting and grammar to create something entirely original of its own. One can enter a prompt such as the themes of the novel In Cold Blood by Truman Capote and the bot will type out an essay that is, in my opinion, better than most writers, especially at the high school level. The software was released in November of 2022 and has already caused a stir. The site experienced over a million users within the first five days. Due to the unexpected traffic, the site crashed and was down before the company was able to improve its servers.

Photo Courtesy of Open AI Website

One of the main issues with cheating using the Chat GTP bot is that teachers who use plagiarism checkers will not be able to identify an essay that wasn’t written by a student. In a survey of the class, 43% have used the technology before and 29% report having used it on school assignments in the past. When asked would you use this technology, yes, no or maybe; yes had the overwhelming majority with the maybes sweeping up the rest. Not a single person answered no. When asked how often they would use the technology most people answered roughly 5% of the time. Although that may seem small, having 100s of assignments a year adds up. When asked if they would use this technology under the false pretenses they would never get caught the majority said they would use the technology between 50-100% of the time. I personally learned about the website’s abilities by word of mouth and it’s spreading fast.


With the apparent popularity of the AI, teacher are faced with an impossible task. Most teachers have found they can identify a student’s work by the quality or tone of voice, but even if a teacher suspects plagiarism they would have no proof to carry out discipline. When asked if she could or how would she go about combating the technology Ms. McShane answers “She doesn’t know enough about it, but she has a good sense of what her students sound like.” When further asked how she would confront a student on suspected cheating, she reports “She could probably not punish them unless she can find the essay online”; however she remarks that a way to combat the technology is to go old fashion pen and paper in class essay writing to ensure authenticity.

With all this, we have to wonder what will happen with this technology. Is enforcement of academic honesty a thing of the past? Computer Science and Software Engineering Major Dante Falardeau says it would be impossible to create technology to catch the bot. If nothing can catch you, why not use it? Will temptation win students over? Will the school further crack down on cheating? The school has already taken the steps to make the site unreachable on school devices. English teachers have verbally discussed being aware and alert as the technology will inevitably begin to pop up. To all students in the words of Ms. McShane: “You’re only cheating yourself”.