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National centre for AI – Exploring the role of generative AI in assessments: A student perspective

  1. Recently, we (National centre for AI) organised five discussion forums for tertiary education students, on Generative AI. Our aim was to understand how students are currently using this technology and explore its potential impact on their learning experience. To ensure a broad range of perspectives, we conducted both online and face-to-face sessions, allowing students to engage and express their thoughts anonymously.  This is the third in a series of five blog posts sharing insights from the forums.

As education continues to evolve in the digital age, the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) tools, specifically generative AI, in assessments has become a topic of intense discussion. Students hold diverse opinions regarding the use of generative AI tools.

In this blog, we delve into the arguments both for and against incorporating generative AI in assessments, from the students’ perspectives. We also explore concerns surrounding plagiarism, the potential use of AI in assessment creation, and its role as an assessment marking tool. Additionally, we examine students’ calls for assessment reform and the need to align teaching methods with industry experiences:

Should generative AI tools be allowed in assessments:

Most students expressed a positive attitude towards the use of generative AI tools in assessments, believing that they should generally be allowed. Some students found open-book assessments acceptable when using generative AI, but not closed-book assessments. Those in favour of their use suggested that generative AI should only account for a specific proportion of the assessment, with some proposing a maximum of 10%. They also emphasised the importance of clear citation when using generative AI tools. Additionally, students felt that different disciplines should have varying allowances for generative AI use. They argued that relying solely on generative AI answers would lead to failure, as these tools serve as a foundation for developing arguments and building cases.

Students from further education (FE) and HE English students more resistance to the use of generative AI tools compared to other higher education (HE) students. They believed that assessments should solely reflect their own work, dismissing the use of generative AI. Those opposed to their use, thought that tools like Grammarly, which provide assistance, should be permitted.

Plagiarism concerns:

Students expressed concerns regarding the lack of clarity surrounding academic integrity and plagiarism. They strongly believed that individuals would always find ways to circumvent plagiarism detection measures.

AI and Generative AI to create assessments:

While some students were comfortable with staff utilising AI tools to create summative assessments, others raised concerns about potential variations in difficulty level when AI-generated questions are used.


AI and Generative AI as assessment marking tools:

Students considered assisted marking more acceptable than automated marking. They emphasised the importance of being informed in advance about the utilisation of AI for marking purposes. Some students felt that it was appropriate for generative AI to mark quizzes, multiple-choice questions, and short answers but not for other types of assessments. They believed that AI tools could mitigate human bias and enhance transparency.

Students expressed scepticism about the reliability and accuracy of AI tools, asserting that they may not understand nuance, context, or assess creativity. They argued that AI tools may solely focus on assessment criteria without evaluating actual learning gains.

Assessments reform:

Students voiced their concerns regarding the current assessment methods and what they assess. They advocated for a redesign of assessments to meet their needs, with a stronger emphasis on creativity and critical thinking rather than rote memorisation.

Teaching methods:

A number of the students criticised the nature of their current teaching experiences, expressing frustration with traditional ‘sage on a stage’ style lectures. They desired a learning environment that mirrors real-world industry experiences. Students strongly emphasised the need to shift away from rote learning towards critical thinking and analytical skills. They held hope that generative AI could accelerate this transformation, seeing its potential to be integrated across education and enhance learning capabilities.

In the next blog post, we’ll delve into what students are looking for their institutions to provide on Generative AI.

Thanks to:

University of Manchester for their help in setting up and running the HE Student Discussion Forums, in particular:

Dr Miriam Firth
Dr Amanda Banks-Gatenby
Krishna Wiananda
Vaidehi Simon Martin

This item was originally published on the National Centre for AI in tertiary education blog site.

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