Are Your Students Using AI for Writing Assignments?

The use and integration of AI in classrooms worldwide is raising alarm among teachers. With self-writing robots capable of generating essays and assignments on any topic, students now have an easily accessible cheating tool that is difficult to detect.
This article delves into the concerns surrounding AI's presence in education and provides ways to detect whether or not your student is using AI to write their assignments.

Grading papers is one of the most time-consuming tasks teachers are responsible for. Checking for accuracy, comprehension, and retention requires a specific kind of focus and skill. This is difficult enough without adding plagiarism issues to be on the lookout for. Plagiarism has always posed a problem for teachers and their students- but generally, it was easily mitigated by assessing tone and sentence structure, and with the use of some incredible new technologies teachers now have access to, like Turnitin.  

But what do we do when the words your students claim to have written and handed in weren’t actually crafted by a HUMAN?

Artificial Intelligence is no longer something relegated to Sci-Fi films. It’s infiltrated our daily lives, which means our classrooms, too, and it’s not just in English class. Students are using ai generated writing and ai tools to hand in anything from student essays to short writing assignments to college essays, bringing so many questions along with it. How does AI interfere with student learning and thinking skills? Will the teaching of the writing process eventually become obsolete? How will this affect critical thinking in the long term? Will we have to redefine academic integrity? These questions are being asked among faculty, staff, professors, and assistant professors in high school and higher education settings. But there are some things we have to clear up first.

What is AI?

AI, or artificial intelligence, in its simplest of terms, "is a field, which combines computer science and robust datasets, to enable problem-solving." ( But it’s recently entered academia through chatbots, chatgpt, ai writing and ai writing tools. In essence, students can enter a topic of writing they require, and AI will generate a piece of writing or answer a question for them. While the tone and structure of a piece of writing generated by AI can be easy to identify, the technology is improving at lightning speed. Soon, it might be impossible to decipher an essay written by AI or by an actual human- making a teacher’s life and work even more complicated than it already was. 

What Can Teachers Do?

Of course, as educators, we want to maintain the utmost academic integrity. It is never ok to pass off work as ours if it is someone- or someTHING- else’s. Some students will attempt to do so, and we must make it clear that that is unacceptable.

There are platforms such as and this one on that make it easy (and free!) to detect if ai-generated text was used in a student’s essay. As with any writing unit, a lesson or two on plagiarism is a good idea- especially if it’s crafted to include our ever-advancing language model technology. We also know and have witnessed students using various ai models such as gpt-3, chatbots, openai, text generators and other unsavory use of ai and ai programs to cheat on tests and garner material for graded class discussions in real time. It’s not hard to begin to view ai as another enemy making it harder and harder to do our jobs.

Are There Any Benefits?

It might seem impossible to believe that there could be a benefit to this jarring new reality, especially considering all the trouble it’s caused for teachers already. The fact of the matter is technology is a tool- and tools can always be used for good if we know how. The best way to combat an obstacle is to accept it for what it is. Let me tell you what I mean as it relates to writing software and the growing AI conundrum we’re facing. 

Related Article: 5 Time-Saving Hacks for Teachers Using ChatGPT and AI

Bring It In

It’s no secret that the fastest way to get students to do something is to tell them they’re not allowed—especially those in high school and young college students. Making something forbidden is a surefire way of lighting a fire in the rebellion.  

What if we were the ones who brought AI to the classroom first?

Several things would happen:

  1. Students would become very aware of how well-versed we are in the latest technology, making them less likely to attempt to pull one over on us.
  2. We would become more knowledgeable of the software and technological capabilities of the time, giving us a more current worldview and language to meet students on their level and step up our own teaching game.
  3. We would instantly diminish the appeal of something “forbidden” and allow us to reframe its usage for good.

How Can We Use It To Our Advantage?

At TeacherVision, we believe that knowledge is power. Ai-generated text programs and platforms aren’t going away; they’ll only continue to evolve and change. Perhaps we should accept the reality we’re facing and use it to our advantage. But how?  

Here are some tips and tricks you can use to teach and model academic integrity for students in an ai-centric world :

  1. Create an AI Unit that requires students to research the history behind ai, its many uses and platforms, the creators, and their “why”. Have them present their research to the class.
  2. Invite guest lecturers or associate professors from local universities to talk to your class about the benefits and downfalls of using ai in academia.
  3. Assign a simple writing prompt, and have students hand-write their answers in a timed essay in class. For homework, have them enter the same writing prompt into an ai generated text platform and bring it in the next day. Have students read both versions of the essays aloud in groups and see who can identify the prompt written by ai. Have them outline how they came to their conclusion: Did it sound generic? Was the sentence structure awkward? Did it lack personalization? Did it carry certain biases? Was it too diplomatic and lacking in personality? 
  4. Invite students to comb through their favorite social media accounts and enter some of the caption copy into an ai-detector. How does it make them feel to discover some of what was “written” wasn’t written by the person they followed? Does it change how they view their favorite content creators? Ask them if someone can truly be labeled a “content creator” if they didn’t actually do any of the creating.

It’s Not Just About Them; It’s About Us

Teaching our students how to use ai in an ethical way is necessary. But did you know ai could also be a considerable tool for teachers? There are many ways ai can simplify a teacher’s tasks, leveling the playing field for much sought-after work/life balance. Here are just some ways teachers can use ai to save time, allowing them more space to do what they love.

Use gpt-3 or other variations of chatbots to generate lessons/ideas for your classes. For example, ask a chatbot to do these specific things:

  • Generate five persuasive writing prompts.
  • Provide a summary of a particular literary or non-fiction passage.
  • Identify themes in a piece of writing for you to pull out and have students provide textual evidence. 

 It can also be used as an organizational tool: ask it to organize your daily/weekly tasks in bullet points, draft an email template for parental contact, class trips, risk of failure notifications, and requests for conferences saving tons of time on paperwork. We have some great suggestions for report card comments here and here, but if you’re still stuck- ai can generate a few for you. 

Special Education Teachers often have the most paperwork, as each student has different modifications. You can ask ai to generate class notes from a lesson plan if students’IEPs call for them. You can also have an entire lesson broken down into bullets, differentiating the lesson by chunking the material for you.

AI can certainly create some challenges in the academic world and can also be a helpful tool- once it’s taught how to be used correctly. We’d love to know how you’re using (or not using) ai in your classrooms. 

Looking for more strategy ideas?

Head over to our Strategies Resource Hub where can discover the many teaching strategies you can use to enhance your classroom teaching, from behavior management and field trips to open-house resources and teacher-parent conference advice.

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About the author

Jenny Vanderberg Shannon


About Jenny

Jenny Vanderberg Shannon is a former education professional with 10+ years of classroom and leadership experience, with a B.A. in English, and an M.A. in Educational… Read more

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