English faculty and administrators have updated the department and schoolwide academic integrity policies, respectively, to prohibit students from using generative artificial intelligence unless given permission. As a result, many teachers in the English and history departments have chosen to prioritize or only allow in-class major assignments and essays to prevent students from using AI.
Teachers in the English and history departments have changed how they assign papers, and the updated English department academic integrity policy states that students cannot use artificial intelligence. There is not a history department-specific academic integrity policy; history teachers refer their students to the schoolwide academic integrity policy.
English Department Chair Katherine Dunbar said she appreciates the new academic integrity policy and is glad that students must now get permission from their teachers in order to use AI.
Dunbar said one way to prevent students from using AI is to have them begin major assignments and essays in class before allowing them to continue work outside of class. She believes that if students begin the writing process without access to AI, they will be less inclined to use it later, realizing that AI will be “a diminishment instead of an enhancement” of their work.
Students and staff members have had mixed reactions to the new policies.
Senior Nico Greene said he disagrees with the new schoolwide and English department policies, as he believes that students should be able to use AI.
“These tools are going to be with us for the rest of our lives,” he said, “so we might as well harness them.” Greene added that AI could be useful in fixing grammatical mistakes in essays without significantly changing how the essays are written.
Junior Olivia Jin disagreed with Greene’s sentiment. “I think it’s important for students to create their own work for accurate grading,” she said, “because it wouldn’t be fair if certain students used AI to get good grades.”
Dunbar said that even though teachers are now turning to in-class essays to prevent AI usage, there has not been a “radical increase in in-class essays.” She has been keeping track of the number of in-class essays given by English teachers but declined to share the data with the Bit.
Dunbar also said that English teachers are prohibited from only assigning in-class essays and are required to assign some essays for students to complete outside of class.
Freshman Caleb Clark said he prefers to work outside of class. “If it’s outside of class, I’ll be able to use Google or a Word document to review my paper better,” he said, referring to using spellcheck. So far in high school, Clark said he has gotten better grades on work outside of class.
Freshman Vivienne Quintenz disagreed with Clark’s sentiment, saying that she preferred in-class writing. “Writing inside of class is kind of easier because it gives you more of a deadline, and you can ask your teacher for help,” Quintenz said. She said that she gets distracted more easily when she works outside of class.
Greene said that, generally, he writes better outside of class. However, he said he likes writing during class because he thinks it pushes him to improve his writing in a way that out-of-class writing does not.
Sophomore Gavin Leonard prefers to work on essays outside of class because he has more time to work on them. He said he finds the time constraint of in-class essays to be stressful.
“I assume in-class writing creates a lot of stress,” history teacher Richard Avidon said, adding that it is not fair to all students. “There are some students who aren’t comfortable writing in that setting,” he said.
English teacher Benjamin Stein as well as some other English teachers use a program called Turnitin to check if a student’s work is AI-generated. Stein said he is also experimenting with a program called Digiexam, which allows students to respond to a prompt while prohibiting them from accessing other applications.
History teacher James Elish said the updated schoolwide policy has unified the policies of the English and history departments. “It’s good to have a unified policy between departments, where every department is working along the same guidelines and the same rules,” Elish said.
Elish hopes that AI will allow more people to access information but added that AI-generated text is sometimes flawed, containing factual inaccuracies, and can spread misinformation.