New technologies complicate longtime challenges

Feb 16 2024

New technologies complicate longtime challenges

“One of the truest tests of integrity is its blunt refusal to be compromised.”
-Chinua Achebe

In a time when news stories abound about plagiarism in higher education, it’s important that we continue to take a look at our policies and processes here at Keystone.

We start with our commitment to academic excellence and ethical growth, two of our four pillars. What’s more, our Cobra Code includes a core value of integrity. We take to heart our responsibility to teach children how to be ethical scholars.

The issues of correctly citing sources and producing original work have even greater resonance in the era of artificial intelligence. It wasn’t long ago that a teacher could tell if a student turned in work that wasn’t theirs by the difference in language. I remember early in my career, when I was a classroom teacher grading papers and seeing a substantial variance in a student’s writing done at home versus in class. I also remember an incident decades ago when a parent admitted to writing his son’s papers, and was upset at my colleague for giving his writing a “B-.”

Today, with the advent of Chat GPT and other forms of AI, those concerns seem quaint. Fortunately, our teachers can run papers through the web-based tool TurnItIn. In addition, because we are a small school where teachers know their students, a teacher can often identify immediately when a student hands in work that was not done by them.

Still, we know we must actively improve our own abilities to detect when papers are written by artificial intelligence, as AI improves its ability to evade detection. So, how at Keystone do we actively teach about using AI and maintaining proper procedures of attribution? Head of Upper School Bill Spedding has led faculty meetings and provided articles for discussion for two years now, and we have had rich conversations.

Some teachers have wondered if this is all that different than when math teachers had to accommodate the newest and most modern calculators. Others argued that there are some benefits to AI, so the point is not to teach total abstinence but appropriate use. Teachers have stressed the need to look at the type of assignments we give and what kind of writing we ask students to do in school versus at home.
Recently, Director of Learning and Innovation Ms. Wilnelia Antuna, Assistant Director Ms. Tammy Troche, and Grades 5 & 6 English teacher Ms. Regina Lucke attended a conference on AI and teaching. As is common practice at Keystone, when teachers participate in a conference, we ask them to share what they learned with colleagues.

At our Faculty/Staff In Service today, Ms. Troche and Ms. Lucke spoke on what they learned and how we can incorporate it into our teaching. Most likely, we will follow this up by forming a committee of administrators and teachers to create newer guidelines around academic integrity and plagiarism.

This is not a one-time deal where we create a policy and we are then done forever. As technology advances, we will continue to hone our teaching. Ultimately, we want students to understand that when we assign them something, we want to know what they think, not what someone else believes or created. No matter the technology, we wish for students’ work to reflect their ideas and opinions; these are much more important to us than what supposed experts or paper mills generate.

We also know that students will make some bad decisions. While we fundamentally believe that Keystone students want to do the right thing, we know they will have mistakes along their path of learning. They are human and the lines that are unclear for adults are even more blurry for children and adolescents. In a world that is rapidly changing and at times can be downright confusing, we are committed to teaching Cobras how to be excellent academics and good people.

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  • Martin Strayer IV

    Billy. Thank You!

    February 16, 2024 at 7:25 pm
  • Ed Marvin

    Excellent information! My opinion is that the challenge to manage AI will become more and more challenging but it is here to stay. Cannot deny the challenge. Must manage to the best of our ability going forward.

    February 19, 2024 at 9:58 pm

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