Teachers beating AI

The challenges posed by developments in Artificial Intelligence (AI) generated text have been getting a lot of attention recently. Assessment design can help to secure assessments by making them more difficult to outsource, either to a contract cheating provider or to AI. Associate Professor Georgina Drew (Social Sciences) explains how her assessment design engages students and encourages them to do their own thinking and learning.



A/P Drew requires students to draw from course readings for almost all of her Anthropology assignments.  ‘I’ve found this makes it much harder for students to hire contract writers because they can’t have readings that draw from random papers. It also means that it is much easier to catch the papers that might involve contract cheating’.

She also sticks to one main ‘formative’ essay and one main ‘summative’ essay.

The formative essay, usually due around week 6, is part reflection and partly a chance to draw from the course readings. For Identity and Discrimination, the first summative essay asks students to think about how they thought of identity prior to starting the course—and how their thinking has been challenged or supported by course content. A/P Drew points out: ‘it’s a hard essay to hire AI or contract cheaters to do’.  For Visual Anthropology, she designs the first summative essay as a photo essay about the student’s relationship to university life and culture. This requires students to take images of campus (or their work-from home/abroad environment), asking them to also cite some of the readings they’ve covered about visual anthropology.

For the summative essay which is due at the end of the course, A/P Drew usually asks students to refer to current events. For Identity and Discrimination, that involves picking someone that is currently in the news (social media or print/online media) for a reason relating to identity-based discrimination. A/P Drew explains, ‘students predominantly have to cite from our course teachings when supporting that essay, though they can also draw from 2-4 readings that we didn’t engage (which allows for leeway in case the issue of identity or discrimination isn’t itemised in our course readings)’.

For Visual Anthropology, she requires students to complete another photo essay—but a longer one this time—that aims to visually and narratively depict a subculture in which they are personally involved (sports group, dance troupe, regular gathering of friends/family, religious/cultural event, etc). That, too, A/P Drew feels ‘would be a very hard essay for students to contract out, especially since they still have to cite course readings, again with a bonus 2-4 readings beyond our course’.

While no assignment is completely cheat-proof, small changes to assessment design such as asking students to refer to current events, to specific readings or to a localised case study can make assessments more difficult to outsource. It is also important to update assignment questions regularly to deter copying from past assessments shared online or by peers.

For more information and resources about assessment design for academic integrity, you can refer to our webpage. If your course contains written assessments, you may also be interested in attending a session on Cadmus, a student-friendly online assessment platform which supports academic skills development and integrity.

Tagged in Artificial Intelligence, Academic Integrity, cadmus