SINGAPORE — A variety of strategies are adopted by Singapore schools and institutes of higher learning (IHL) to detect plagiarism in assignments, and this includes technological tools to detect content generated by artificial intelligence (AI) technology.
This is the assurance given by Education Minister Chan Chun Sing in Parliament on Monday (6 February) as he responded to questions by Members of Parliament (MPs) on the possible abuse of intelligent chatbots such as ChatGPT in schools.
ChatGPT has made headlines in recent months for its ability to produce essays and solve mathematical equations in seconds, leading to international concerns of plagiarism and fraud amid learning institutions.
"Schools and IHLs adopt a range of practices to guard against misuse of this technology," he said.
"In their daily work, students are taught the importance of integrity and the harmful impact and consequences of plagiarism. In addition, teachers use multiple modes of assessment to gauge students’ proficiency and detect uncharacteristic responses that could be AI-generated content.
"IHLs have varied modes of assessment - including examinations, presentations, and projects - that require analysis, field notes and observational details that cannot be generated easily by AI technology."
AI technology needs to be embraced in education: Chan
Mr Chan also stressed that the rapid advancement of AI technology also presents opportunities for Singapore's education system, and there is a need to embrace AI technology and its increasing pervasiveness in society.
The Ministry of Education (MOE) will provide resources and guidance for educators to effectively harness AI tools such at ChatGPT to enhance learning. Courses are being conducted to educate the educators on the potential and challenges of using AI technologies.
Educators will also be tasked to help students understand how AI tools work, to prevent over-reliance on technological tools. AI tools will serve as supplementary add-ons, only after basic fundamental concepts and thinking skills have been mastered by students.
"Just like how a calculator supports students’ capacity for learning mathematics, but does not replace the need for them to first master basic mathematical operations, ChatGPT can be a useful tool for learning only when students have mastered basic concepts and thinking skills," Mr Chan said.
"In an uncertain world, we must also teach students to embrace and learn to work with tools in the new normal that have a range of outcomes. As ChatGPT can provide inaccurate or biased output, students need to be discerning and critically assess its output for accuracy and objectivity."
Cheating is 'evergreen challenge' for educators
Responding to Sembawang GRC MP Lim Wee Kiak's supplementary question on whether the policies regarding the use of AI in cheating are clearly spelled out and communicated to students, Mr Chan said that cheating has been an "evergreen challenge" for educators, and it is a "cat-and-mouse" game to detect dishonest deeds until a new technology arises to counter detection.
"Cheating is cheating. (It) is not tolerated in any of our education institutions," he said.
"The more important aspect is how we educate our people to hold on to the fundamental values of education, how we impart them the values such that they understand why they are doing what they are doing."
Mr Chan added that while technology may be able to help some better derive their answers, students are expected to declare truthfully their sources of information.
He stressed that importance of instilling the 3 D's - discover, distill and discern - to the current student generation in navigating AI technologies in education.
"Our value add today is not about trying to answer yesterday's problems with yesterday's answer. Our value add is how to create tomorrow's solutions for tomorrow's challenges ahead of time," he said.
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