New software tools such as ChatGPT by OpenAI present new and very real challenges for teachers to ensure academic honesty during exams (you can read our Founder’s take here). Traditional plagiarism detection tools do not (yet) detect these AI generated texts creating opportunities for student cheating with ChatGPT. ChatGPT launched in December 2022 giving students the ability to type a request and have AI automatically generate essays, critical analysis, etc. on any number of topics with shockingly high quality in seconds.
Exam.net is an online exam platform built by teachers for the realities of the classroom. Ensuring the integrity of online exams and preventing cheating is a big priority for us. The Exam.net platform has multiple layers of protection built-in, and with the addition of teacher presence and knowledge we can prevent most cheat attempts. Additionally, we continuously review and update our security protocols to stay current with the latest cheating methods.
3 ways Exam.net prevents students answering exam questions with ChatGPT
- The first layer of security includes blocking copy-paste. This removes the ability for students to copy and paste text during an exam, eliminating the possibility of students sharing answers with each other or directly using answers generated by ChatGPT. Additionally, Exam.net uses advanced algorithms to detect when auto-typing software is being used and alerts the teacher of suspicious activity.
- The second layer is exam focus, which prevents students from using other software during an exam. Teachers are alerted whenever a student leaves focus, giving them the opportunity to monitor students during the exam and detect any unwanted behavior. Additionally, Exam.net has a high-security mode that makes it even harder for students to cheat. In this mode, students are blocked from leaving the exam window until the exam is submitted. This mode completely prevents students from accessing other apps or websites during the exam. (More about Exam.net security levels here)
- The third and final layer is our advanced back-end controls. Exam.net servers silently detect suspicious student activity. When this occurs, teachers are informed about the students’ attempt, how they tried to cheat and the teacher is given recommendations on how to prevent such attempts in the future.
What can I do as a teacher to prevent cheating with ChatGPT?
The best way to prevent students from accessing other programs, tools or resources on their devices during the examination is to always use the high-security mode. They will then be blocked from leaving the exam screen and the only way they can leave is to submit the exam. That makes it very hard for a student to use the same device to perform the exam and use other softwares.
To prevent students from cheating using other devices we recommend using traditional in-classroom monitoring in the same way as when conducting pen and paper exams. For the remote use case, a video conferencing solution to control the student environment could be used. Using an additional device, connected to a video meeting, pointed from the side, or slightly behind can improve cheat security a lot. Especially if the lap of the student is visible as well to detect any (third) devices or notes.
Finally, Exam.net allows a teacher to see students’ exam advance both in-real-time or after the exam has been submitted. This can allow patterns to be spotted in the way a text grows and how the student has written the text. This is the best way to discover if a student manually copies text from other sources or devices.
All in all, Exam.net uses a combination of security measures including prevention of copy-paste and auto-typing, lockdown-mode and real-time monitoring, to ensure the integrity of online exams and prevent cheating with ChatGPT. With that said, our cheat prevention methods are regularly updated and improved as new technologies evolve and students looks for new creative ways to circumvent the systems.
I want to share a message for students. AI systems such at ChatGPT will likely be tools you find useful in your life and in future jobs. And frankly these new tools are pretty amazing. But you are likely at a phase in your life where you are developing the core skills to independently come up with ideas, write and think critically. So before using tools such as these, check with your teacher about what is allowed and what is not allowed. Clear communication with your teacher will help prevent any unintentional cheating or violation of academic policies.
Please keep in mind that cheating attempts during an exam can affect your course grade as well as lead to more serious consequences such as suspension from studies. A cheat attempt can be detected both during the exam and after the submission.