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TAMU-Commerce Instructor Accuses Class of Using ChatGPT on Final Assignments

University is investigating but hasn't confirmed whether any students used AI to complete their final written assignments

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NBC 5 News

Officials at Texas A&M University-Commerce are investigating after an agriculture professor accused his students of using artificial intelligence on their final written assignments.

According to a post on Reddit, Jared Mumm, an agricultural sciences and natural resources instructor at the school, sent his class an email telling them that they were all receiving an incomplete grade after he asked ChatGPT (an AI chatbot) if it generated the written responses on their final assignments and it affirmed that it had.

“I copy and paste your responses in [ChatGPT] and [it] will tell me if the program generated the content,” the email said, a copy of which NBC News reviewed and verified with the university. NBC News reported Mumm said that he tested each paper twice and that the bot claimed to have written every single final assignment.

Attempts by NBC News to reach Mumm by email, LinkedIn, and phone were unsuccessful Wednesday.

The school confirmed to NBC 5 Thursday that no students failed the class or were barred from graduation because of the issue, as claimed in the Reddit post, though some did receive a temporary incomplete while the final assignment was investigated or reworked with the professor.

Since the email was sent the school said some students have been exonerated and their grades have been issued. The university said one student has admitted to using ChatGPT at some point during the course while several others have opted to complete a new writing assignment.

The school did not say whether any students had been confirmed to have used ChatGPT in their final assignments.

Forbes reported this week that ChatGPT can't tell if a response was previously generated by ChatGPT after a writer fed the chatbot sentences he'd written and asked the bot if it had generated them. The bot, according to the report, took credit for the human's work. Several commenters in the subreddit discussion did similar tests and reported the same results.

Texas A&M-Commerce, meanwhile, said they'll be working to develop policies around the use or misuse of AI technology in the classroom and will work to "adopt AI detection tools and other resources to manage the intersection of AI technology and higher education."

The university added that the use of artificial intelligence in coursework "is a rapidly changing issue that confronts all learning institutions."

CNBC reported Thursday that OpenAI's ChatGPT is the best-known example of a "large language model," a type of machine learning application that trains on terabytes of data to be able to return an output of long paragraphs or computer code that looks like human writing. OpenAI released a free ChatGPT app in the U.S. on Thursday -- it's the first official mobile application of the chatbot. ChatGPT had previously only been available through OpenAI's website.

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