The evolution of assessment: AI Tools, Integrity Challenges & Simulations

The education landscape keeps evolving, driven by advancements in Artificial Intelligence (AI). 

This shift brings opportunities and challenges, particularly for universities looking to maintain academic integrity in a rapidly changing environment.

Traditional assignment methods are gradually becoming redundant as AI-powered systems like ChatGPT and threaten the integrity of remote assignment submissions and course assignments. 

So what’s the impact of AI tools like on education, what challenges does it pose for faculty, and what’s the solution?

Let’s find out…

The Explosion of AI Tools

AI has exploded as a technology. Tools such as ChatGPT and DALL-E have become useful tools for companies across industries to boost productivity and drive efficiency.

The education sector is no different. Universities and colleges can now use AI to understand natural language, analyze data, and generate human-like text. This helps tailor learning to students, generate course content and quickly assess student’s work. 

“[Universities] are still in shock to an extent,” said Tony Sheehan, VP and Higher Education Analyst at Gartner. “The rapid consumer adoption of [AI] has taken everyone by surprise, and of course [that includes] the education sector because it’s about creative content generation — whether that’s an essay, code, or pictures.”

The flip side is that students can also use AI tools. While these tools can make students’ lives easier with written assignments  – 68% of students believe AI has improved their grades according to Cryptopolitan – AI can also help students plagiarize which poses a significant challenge to the education sector. 

AI & Student Assessment: What are the Challenges?

While there are tangible benefits, the adoption of AI tools poses challenges for universities looking to uphold the integrity of assessments. Unfortunately, the ease of access to AI tools means that there’s a temptation to cheat amongst students. 

A study by the educational software company Turnitin found that 11% of college and student papers contain AI-written language, with 3% flagged for having 80 percent or more written by AI. 

While ChatGPT can be used to research and write content, a new tool goes one step further by providing sources and references. This means that students can find the source of a statistic or quote easily and cite it without having done any research or critical thinking. 

This screenshot shows the results from Perplexity based on the prompt ‘Create a short social media plan for TikTok’. There’s also the option to find related images and videos and even generate an image.

AI & Student Assessment: What are the Challenges?

While plagiarism tools can identify content that’s copied, they may not detect sophisticated forms of cheating, such as outsourcing. That’s because many of the tools used by universities are still in their infancy and students are being creative in bypassing detection capabilities.


In addition, ensuring the authenticity of students’ work online is a huge challenge. With remote learning becoming more common, universities must use robust authentication methods to verify identities and prevent academic dishonesty.


While it may be tempting to ban the use of generative AI tools for students, many experts believe the solution is to incorporate the use of the tools into the curriculum and classroom. 


When talking about AI and plagiarism, Sheehan told ComputerWorld: “Students will use [chatbot generated content] as a first draft.” Students will say “I need some ideas, give me some. Great! Now, I’ll just go off and research further and add to it, add research and references to it and it becomes almost impossible to detect that. Many institutions are saying – Maybe this is something we should encourage students to do.”


So what can educators do to maintain the integrity of assignments and assessments in this age of AI?

The Rise of Controlled Environments & Simulation Testing

To ensure integrity, many universities are using controlled assessments. This way, students can be monitored to prevent cheating and ensure fairness. 


Examples of controlled testing include


  • In-person exams
  • Proctored online assessments
  • Testing centers 


In recent years, there has also been a growing trend towards simulation-style testing. The reason is that this type of assessment replicates real-world scenarios and requires students to apply theory to practical situations. 


For example, flight simulations, virtual patient simulations and digital marketing simulations can effectively provide hands-on experience without risk and help students cultivate essential soft or professional skills such as critical thinking and problem-solving. 

How can Universities Help Students Use AI Responsibly?

The simple fact is that AI tools are here to stay and students want to use them. In fact, 39% of students would shun a school that banned generative AI tech according to a College Rover survey.


So how can universities facilitate the use of AI in the classroom and maintain academic integrity – and encourage students to do the same)? 


Some simple ways universities can ensure that students use AI tools ethically and responsibly are:


  • Give students access to AI tools and provide training on how to use them
  • Develop guidelines on the ethical implications and bias in AI tools
  • Develop and communicate academic integrity policies – be clear on how AI can be used!
  • Be clear on the learning outcomes that will be measured
  • Discuss if and how the use of AI tools will be considered in the evaluation of student’s performance
  • Provide students with examples or demonstrate of how to use AI (e.g. ChatGPT prompts)


As AI tools like Perplexity become more commonly used by students, universities must adapt to ensure the integrity of their evaluation processes. 


Controlled environment assessments and simulation-style testing offer solutions to the challenges posed by AI, enabling universities to maintain academic standards while setting students up for career success. 

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