Learning Technology Coach Podcast

S3E2. Academic Integrity and Artificial Intelligence in Higher Education

November 07, 2023 Centre for Innovation in Teaching and Learning (CITL), Memorial University Season 3 Episode 2
Learning Technology Coach Podcast
S3E2. Academic Integrity and Artificial Intelligence in Higher Education
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Featuring Dr. Brenda Stoesz - Research Lead, Centre for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning, University of Manitoba

Dr. Stoesz examines academic integrity policy and the effectiveness of educational interventions to promote academic integrity, prevent academic misconduct, and enhance learning.

In this episode, hear what an expert in academic integrity says about AI in higher education. AI is often considered a means for cheating and dishonesty; however, open and honest conversations with students about using AI can combat its misuse. Dr. Stoesz tells us that AI can be a welcomed tool in the classroom if we don’t bypass real learning – and we couldn’t agree more!

The Learning Technology Coach Podcast is a CITL production.

Speaker Key:
VK              Verena Kalter
TO              Timilehin Oguntuyaki
BS              Brenda Stoesz
AN              Announcer

TO | Hello, everyone. My name is Timilehin.

VK | And I am Verena. 

TO | And welcome to the Learning Technology Coach Podcast. 

VK | In Series Three, we delve into the world of artificial intelligence…

TO | It’s role in post-secondary education…

VK | How it’s being implemented into the learning space…

TO | Plus a whole lot more. Welcome to another episode of the Learning Technology Coach Podcast. My name is Timilehin, and together with my co-host, Verena, we welcome you to the Media Services production studio of The Centre for Innovation in Teaching and Learning at Memorial University. How are you doing today, Verena? 

VK | I’m so good, Timilehin, thank you. How are you? 

TO | Very good, my friend. Thank you, Verena. How do you use generative AI as a researcher and learning technology coach? 

VK | Timilehin, to be honest, I mostly use it to give me suggestions for code that I use for another software. So I will sometimes need a little bit of help with statistics and statistical code, and ChatGPT can really help me with that. And I also use it to dumb down certain statistical concepts for me that I don’t understand when somebody else explains them to me. How do you use it? 

TO | Well, my experience with AI technologies is not a lot different from yours, Verena. I have personally learned, especially with Grammarly, that most of these tools do not understand your context or the narrative you are trying to build. Always know that you are in charge of your work. They cannot totally replace your ingenuity, your effort or your creativity. I don’t use it for a lot of work, but I consult ChatGPT especially to develop outlines for presentation. 

VK | Yes, I completely agree with you that we shouldn’t take everything the software gives us as a given and just accept what the output is. And we’re both doing our PhDs, so it’s obviously necessary to critically assess what we consume and what we use for our papers and whatnot. So these are certainly tools that can help us in certain situations, but it’s not something that we should solely rely on for our work. 

TO | Right. Like my high school teacher would say, don’t take everything hook, line and sinker. We had this chance to sit down with Dr Brenda Stoesz, the Research Lead of The Centre for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning, University of Manitoba, who shared her rich knowledge about the use of generative AI in higher education. It was really an informative interview. So if you are a student, instructor or a curious mind that just wants to know how to leverage the use of generative AI in your work or how to avoid its abuse, please listen to this interview. 

Welcome back to the studio. Today, we will be discussing the promotion of ethical use of artificial intelligence and academic integrity. In recent times, there have been many opinions shared in the academic world and even on social media that many students now overly rely on artificial intelligence in their studies, and consequently, they’ve become less creative. On the other hand, there have been numerous takes on how AI, artificial intelligence, is the solution to many challenges students face in their higher education. 

VK | Yes, it is certainly a hotly debated topic and one that likely does not have an easy answer. However, today, we will be interviewing somebody who we think has intriguing insight into AI in higher education. Timilehin, would you like to introduce our guest today? 

TO | Absolutely. We’re excited to have our amazing guest, Dr Bernda Stoesz, join us in the studio today. Brenda holds a Bachelor of Education and PhD in Brain and Cognitive Sciences from the University of Manitoba. In her current role as the Research Lead at The Centre for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning, she examines academic integrity policy and the effectiveness of educational interventions used to promote academic integrity, prevent academic misconduct and enhance learning. 

She also develops educational resources and professional development opportunities for academic staff, including the development of a virtual reality-based teaching skills program. That was a wonderful, wonderful profile. Welcome to the Learning Technology Coach Podcast, Brenda. We are happy to have you here. How are you doing today?

BS | I’m doing great. Thanks for the invitation to speak on this topic today. 

TO | Awesome. Awesome. And I read your profile and I did a little bit of research, and I found out that you’ve done a lot of things, including being a high school teacher, teaching biology and general science and then moving on to teach in an LPN program, Licenced Practical Nursing program, before now delving into academic integrity and policy. So I really just want to understand how all of this connects together. What really sparked your interest in academic integrity in the use of AI and all that? 

BS | Yes. I’m happy to give a little background of myself. So I started eight years ago as the Academic Integrity Specialist at The Centre for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning after I completed my PhD at the University of Manitoba. And like you mentioned, years before that, I was a high school teacher. 

And so when I applied for this position of Academic Integrity Specialist, it was interesting to me to look back at my years as a high school teacher and realise that I’d only really thought about academic integrity in terms of students cheating. And so even though I’d been thinking about the topic as a whole for many, many years, it wasn’t until I started as an academic integrity specialist that I started thinking about integrity and why it’s important to focus on that rather than students cheating. 

TO | Interesting. 

VK | So what else, in your opinion, would academic integrity comprise? 

BS | Yes. So at the University of Manitoba and many institutions across Canada, we use the definition of academic integrity that has been put forth by the International Center for Academic Integrity, which is an international centre, but it’s based in the US. And the definition that they have is one that institutions make a commitment to honesty, trust, fairness, responsibility, courage and… Oh, there’s a sixth, and I can’t quite remember it now, because I’m put on the spot. 

But the idea here is that we do our work with integrity, and we try to do work and learning with integrity. This does not just apply to students. This should apply to all of us in our everyday lives and in our work and study and research, and really to engage in the process of doing that work with our whole self and with integrity and think beyond cheating and taking shortcuts but more about who we want to be known as a person. And I think that’s what’s really important in the work that I do. 

TO | Wow, that’s interesting. See, the next question is going to be about the research that you’ve been doing regarding academic integrity and artificial intelligence. But let me first make this comment. You are a fantastic researcher. I was just telling Verena before we started this interview that you’ve churned out a lot of academic work, published articles, and I have seen most of them. You have about four this year alone. 

And one particularly caught my interest, and it was the one that the title began with Lies, Lies, Lies. I really want you to tell us about that. And I just want to know, what have your research works been regarding academic intelligence, and what are your findings so far? 

BS | Yes. So my primary work in this area so far is on academic integrity policy analysis and looking at all our policies at post-secondary institutions to see how we have framed academic integrity across education. And some of it can be quite disappointing, because it does focus on cheating, and it doesn’t necessarily build on trying to instil integrity in everyone. 

But beyond that, I’m also very interested in exploring ways to promote academic integrity using technology. So I’m working on a study right now that is testing out a technology that questions students about their academic work. The main goal of it is to see whether or not students will be more engaged in the assignments that they create. 

There are also some other goals of that software, and it’s to determine whether or not students have engaged in something called contract cheating, which is the outsourcing of academic work to a third party. So during the pandemic, there was a lot of focus on contract cheating, which was finding commercial entities or even family and friends to do academic work for you. And so we really focused on that during the pandemic. 

 And now that some of the pandemic concerns are not as high on our priority list as they were before, we now are dealing with artificial intelligence. And so I am also engaging in a couple of projects looking at artificial intelligence and academic integrity, using the same software. 

But in terms of that chapter, Lies, Lies, Lies, my background is on face processing. And so I’ve taken some of what I know about face processing and how we are able to determine what other people are thinking and feeling and apply that to my work in academic misconduct. So that chapter, which should be coming out soon, is a literature review really on taking that, the literature on trust and how we trust people. 

And what’s really interesting is we tend to trust people, we tend to believe them and that they’re telling the truth. And so, sometimes, that puts us in a disadvantage when we’re trying to determine if someone has actually been lying. We might think that we can identify lies, but we’re not very good at that. And that might have implications for dealing with cases of misconduct in universities and colleges. 

VK | Wonderful. That’s really interesting. And I have to say I really like your approach of your research on artificial intelligence and academic integrity, saying that most people think about AI in higher education as a means to cheat and be dishonest, but there are so many different facets to the story, that we shouldn’t necessarily look at it purely in a negative way. So my question would be, what do you think will be the biggest impact of artificial intelligence on higher education? It’s a difficult one, but give it your best shot. 

BS | Yes, it’s a big question and one that I’ve been asked quite a bit. And I think a lot of educators in the post-secondary level and other levels have been thinking about this and answering this question as well. I think one of the big shifts or things that people are grappling with is how to change our approaches to teaching as educators and also encouraging students to take a different approach to learning as well. 

So how are we going to make these shifts in how we have been doing things and hopefully not be discouraged by the fact that there is this new tool out there that different people are using and they might be using it in ways we don’t want people to use them, but rather, let’s focus on how we might use these kinds of tools to enhance teaching and to enhance learning. 

We do have to be quite realistic in our approaches. We can’t just assume, okay, everything is going to be great, we’re going to change the way we teach and learn and everything is going to be okay, because there’s still going to be the negative side of dealing with technologies and using technologies. 

But at the same time, we don’t want to be paralysed by fear of what artificial intelligence will mean for education. And perhaps we can use these tools in more creative ways and to change the way we do things in order to make things better in the future in higher education. 

VK | A follow-up question to that. I know that many instructors feel a little bit concerned about the advent of artificial intelligence in higher education and in teaching. And artificial intelligence is developing so fast. It’s really a rapid movement. Do you think that we as teachers/instructors…? Will we be fast enough to evolve with AI in the teaching and learning environment? 

BS | Oh, that’s a really interesting question. I don’t know about the speed. Speed, it takes us a long time to process things. How are we going to change our courses? How are we going to change our approaches? So I don’t think that that will happen as fast as maybe we’d want it to. It’s going to take a lot of time. It’ll evolve in the way that it needs to, I think. 

One of the things, though, that we have to remember is we can always create teaching and learning environments that don’t have technology, and we can still gather together and teach and learn in ways that might be seen as maybe more old-fashioned or traditional. And that’s okay. 

I think what it really comes down to is the learning objectives for a particular course. What are we meant to learn in a particular course? And then what do we need around us, or what do we need to exclude, in order to meet the goals of a particular course? 

So if an educator really wants their students to learn a particular skill without the interference of artificial intelligence, then let’s use paper/pencil, and let’s see what we can come up with without those tools. On the other hand, there’s a lot of things that we can do with technology and with artificial intelligence that might be able to propel us forward. 

So if there’s a component of a course that is slowing us down but is not key to the learning objectives, we might use a tool to bypass that aspect of a course so that we can meet other course goals. So I think it’s recognising. What we should do quickly is recognise when something is appropriate to use, and when it’s not, but the how of incorporating and the changing overall might take a little bit more time. 

TO | Great. Thank you for taking the time to answer that question. And I want to actually talk about where you work, The Centre for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning. So I am assuming it’s the same thing as The Centre for Innovation in Teaching and Learning at Memorial University here. 

Because here, some way, we… Not even some way. We have a dedicated centre, dedicated department called The Writing Centre, where we help students to enhance their writing skills. So I’m assuming that in your centre, there will be something related to that, and I want to ask a question particularly about smartly using artificial intelligence in your writing. Are there programmes you use for that? Are there structured ways of doing things like that in your centre, just to talk about how students can smartly adopt the use AI?

BS | Yes. We’re certainly having conversations about how to ethically use generative AI. We do have a separate academic learning centre that is a writing centre for students in a different part of our campus. So in our centre, we don’t have one-on-ones with students. We primarily support educators. But there’s always that discussion among writing experts around our campus, faculty in different units, trying to find ways in which students can use these tools to enhance their writing. 

It does become complicated because of the ethical considerations of generative AI right now. We have to ask ourselves those questions. Do we want to put our own writing into these tools? Then what’s going to happen? Should we be copying and pasting other people’s work into these tools? The answer is probably no right now. So I think that faculty and writing tutors and students across campus are grappling with these issues and trying to find the best way to move forward. 

VK | Yes. I was wondering, because I understand that you work a lot with faculty and academic instructors as well, what kind of reactions did you notice among academic staff to AI and to AI in teaching? Are they apprehensive? 

BS | Yes. 

VK | Do they have concerns? 

BS | Yes. So I’ve been having conversations with faculty since January. And I think at first, there was a lot of fear and anxiety about what to do, although many faculty were also quite excited about the possibilities. So there’s a wide range of reactions to this technology and what it will mean in individual courses and for programmes of studies. 

I think that over the last couple of months, people have taken some time to process all this information, and I think the diversity of reactions has gotten a little bit smaller as people have learned a little bit more about what and how they want to incorporate generative AI into their courses. 

So I’d say now, there might be less fear and anxiety, although that is an individual reaction. It depends on the person. But more and more, I’m hearing that people are looking now for, well, how am I going to approach this, as opposed to, oh my goodness, I don’t know what to do, there’s a lot of fear, so trying to come to a solution. Or maybe not a solution, but short term reaction is turning more into long-term how do we manage this. 

TO | Thank you, and I totally agree with your point that it would depend on the person, because we have different levels of knowledge about AI. And so if you don’t know much about AI, it’s normal for you to be apprehensive anyways. So talking about solutions, do you consider developing policies to check the use of AI to be necessary? Or are there even some policies at the local level, your university or in other universities nationally in Canada? 

BS | Yes. What I know is that many are approaching this from different angles. So generative AI is not just a student or an instructor issue but also involves the university as a whole. How can artificial intelligence be used maybe in other departments, like administration or IT services, and how can it help us, and what do we have to watch out for? So policies will need to either be separated into those different areas or looking at a comprehensive policy that tries to cover all of these different work areas. 

In academic integrity, no one has a specific language around artificial intelligence in their policies yet, but our general statements that we have in our policies around academic misconduct and academic integrity will cover when students or anyone is using the technology as a way to bypass real learning. And I think with that in mind, people can feel confident that if they notice that there’s something that needs to be reported, that they’ll be able to do so under their current policies. 

VK | I’d be interested how you personally handle AI maybe within your research group. What do you tell your students? Your research heavily relies on obviously writing manuscripts and getting your research out there. Is there something that you tell your students as advice on maybe how to incorporate AI or how to be careful about using it? 

BS | Yes. So far, I don’t have many students. I just have a few students who I supervise their research. We are talking a lot about this issue and how we can use different tools to help us do the work that we do. I don’t want anyone to use the technology if it’s going to bypass a crucial element of what they need to learn. And so we talk openly and honestly about challenges. 

Writing is a very difficult skill, and sometimes we need a little bit of help. And so we have spelling checkers, and we have some of those basic tools, but if we want to go further and use other kinds of technology to generate any of our work, we really need to talk about it as a group and consider what journals, for example, are going to say about the use of these technologies in research. So it really, I think, boils down to communicating with each other about our expectations and about what we’re willing to use and what we should use. 

TO | We’ve come to the end of the interview today. Thank you, Brenda, for joining us in the Media Services podcast studio. We appreciate your time. 

BS | Well, it was my pleasure. Thank you so much for inviting me today. 

VK | Thank you so much, Brenda. 

TO | Thank you. Bye. 

TO | Welcome back to the Media Services podcast studio. Wow, that was a great interview. I learnt a lot. Our guest is certainly knowledgeable. Verena, what is your big learning moment from the interview? 

VK | Oh, there were so many moments that stood out to me. First of all, I think Brenda is a really inspiring woman and researcher. She delves into a lot of topics. She’s obviously very successful and has so many valuable insights into the topic. So it was great to listen to her. 

What I found interesting was that she said AI isn’t mandatory in your classroom. It can feel like you have to use it, you have to use technology, you have to use artificial intelligence, because everybody is talking about it. But it depends on your learning objectives, whether you use AI or not. And you certainly don’t have to. But the important thing is, and that is my big learning moment, that whether you use AI or not, you have to make sure that you do not bypass real learning. You have to make sure that your students learn what they’re supposed to learn. 

TO | Absolutely. You cannot afford not to experience the real learning. You cannot miss it. You cannot bypass it. So it is a must. And that is the end of this episode. Till we see you again, I remain Timilehin. 

VK | And I’m Verena. 

TO | See you next time. 

VK | Ciao. 

AN | The Learning Technology Coach Podcast is a CITL production. 

Episode Introduction
Guest Introduction
Defining Academic Integrity
Contract Cheating
Impact of AI in Higher Education
Teaching Habits vs Evolution of AI
Ethical Uses for Generative AI
Generative AI Policies in Higher Education
Message to Students
Summary - Big Learning Moment!