In the rapidly evolving landscape of education, the integration of artificial intelligence — including generative AI — has brought about transformative changes. While AI promises to enhance learning experiences, there is a growing concern emerging in regards to its role in either facilitating or combating plagiarism in academic settings. This article explores the complex relationship of plagiarism in AI-enhanced education, exploring how schools are utilizing AI tools in an attempt to detect and prevent academic dishonesty. We will examine the challenges faced by educators and the effectiveness of these technologies in upholding academic integrity.

The rise of AI in education

With its ability to provide automated tests, real-time feedback and individualized learning experiences, AI has become a common fixture in many of today's classrooms around the world. But these developments can also bring with them new difficulties, particularly when it comes to maintaining academic integrity. The temptation for students to commit plagiarism has grown as they use the digital world for assignments and research, leading educators to look to AI for answers to the problems that came along with it.

Daniela Ganelin, a Stanford University doctoral student focused on education data science who co-wrote an educators' guide to AI, told Education Week, "If students are going to be learning about artificial intelligence, then teachers need to be learning about it." It is imperative that educators be given the opportunity and support from administration to familiarize themselves with these tools in order to better serve the learners of this quickly evolving digital age.

Challenges faced by educators

Although AI-powered plagiarism detection systems present a potential solution, its implementation exposes several obstacles for educators. One challenge arises from the fact that as students become more adept at eluding even an advanced AI detector, methods of plagiarism continue to evolve. Furthermore, it can be difficult to find the right balance between encouraging innovation and leveraging AI for plagiarism prevention because too much dependence on AI can limit student uniqueness. This makes detecting AI generated text of the utmost importance.

Amanda E. Graf's dissertation "You Do You": Digital-Native College Students' Perceptions of Cheating and Plagiarism suggests that "faculty and practitioners emphasize the 'why' rather than the 'what' of academic integrity, engage students in conversations about AI and frame academic integrity as a value proposition, rather than a moral choice."

Effectiveness of AI in maintaining academic integrity

There is continuous discussion on the efficacy of an AI system in preventing plagiarism. Although these techniques are capable of detecting overt instances of plagiarism, they might not be able to reliably  detect more covert types of plagiarism, such as paraphrasing or mosaic plagiarism. Moreover, when the AI misinterprets valid instances of common phrases or concepts, false positives may result.

These false positives come with very real consequences from educational institutions. Such is the case for a student at the University of North Georgia Dahlonega Campus, Marley Stevens, whose work was automatically failed because it was flagged by the school's anti-plagiarism software, leading to the loss of her scholarship and her being put on academic probation. Stevens told The New York Post that she only used Grammarly, a web browser attachment that corrects spelling and punctuation, to proofread a paper she submitted in October and that she's used it for other assignments with no issue.

Notwithstanding these difficulties, it is indisputable that the use of AI-enhanced plagiarism detection tools has increased awareness of academic integrity and served as a deterrent for certain students. These methods support the development of an originality and accountability culture in educational institutions by highlighting the negative effects of plagiarism.

Defeating AI plagiarism

The struggle to crack down on plagiarism continues to evolve as the use of artificial intelligence plays an increasingly important role in education. Equipped with advanced learning resources, teachers are working to uphold academic honesty amidst students' continually developing strategies. From plagiarism checkers — such as a plagiarism detection tool — to more advanced AI content detection, AI tools offer valuable support in detecting misconduct. Their efficacy requires continual refinement, calling for a careful balancing act between technological advancements and the development of an innovative culture. Academic integrity will surely continue to be shaped by the discussion surrounding plagiarism in AI-enhanced education as we traverse this challenging terrain in the years to come.