ChatGPT Comes To Niles West


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By Danica Calalang, Staff Writer

Providing students with quick responses to essay prompts and questions, ChatGPT has taken plagiarism to a new level across American schools and is now making a name at Niles West.

ChatGPT is an Artificial Intelligence system that can be applied to any language task. It can be as small as asking it to write a rap verse or as big as giving it a prompt to write about. Although ChatGPT is a new program, AI has been around in colleges for years and is becoming present in high schools as well. Teachers have raised concerns regarding how AI systems like ChatGPT are affecting students’ learning.

AI has already been used by Niles West students in English classrooms. Teachers are determined to teach their students how to write on their own. “I always felt like my job is to prepare my students for life. I can give them whatever skills they need to be successful… It minimizes my ability to give them the skills that they need,” English teacher Sharon Swanson said. AI has astonished Swanson and is blown away by students’ use of it.

It’s hard for teachers to fathom the extent of plagiarism students will go to.

“I’m disheartened by students potentially using ChatGPT to write their essays, but it was just a matter of time before we saw this trickle down to the high school level. It is my understanding that college students have been using AI like this for years, but I was surprised to hear students were already submitting final exams written by bots this past semester,” English teacher Lia Sosa said.

Some could argue that other learning tools, such as a calculator, benefit and help students. These learning tools could end up going too far.

“I would never want to stop the advancement of technology, but in my opinion, the process of learning is much more important than the product. If we rely too heavily on tools to do the work for us, this can impact our learning how to learn,” Niles West principal Karen Ritter said.

Teachers are beginning to implement strategies to prevent cheating. Sosa and Swanson are having their students hand-write essays in class to ensure they’re not using online tools to do the work for them. Swanson will also have her students do revisions in class, and create indicators and highlight points for herself to remember what her students need to change.

District guidelines state that any form of plagiarism will not be tolerated, and the student will receive a zero for the assignment and be written up for academic dishonesty.