A Texas A&M professor failed over half of his students after ChatGPT falsely claimed it wrote their papers
Welcome to the wild world of Artificial Intelligence (AI). The launch of ChatGPT in late 2022 has ushered in a new era of AI, along with the good, bad, and ugly. Recently, students at Texas A&M University gasped in horror when they discovered that their diplomas were withheld due to an instructor’s erroneous use of AI software to detect plagiarism.
According to a report by Rolling Stone on Tuesday, a professor at Texas A&M failed over 50% of the students in his class based on false claims made by ChatGPT, which incorrectly stated that it had authored their papers. The university responded by withholding their diplomas. The incident originated when the professor ineptly used ChatGPT to evaluate the final assignments, as described by DearKick, the partner of a student in the class, who first shared the originally posted to Reddit.
Per the report, Dr. Jared Mumm, an instructor of agricultural classes and campus rodeo at Texas A&M University, sent out an email on Monday to a specific group of students. The email conveyed the unfortunate news that he had evaluated the grades for their last three essay assignments of the semester.
Surprisingly, Dr. Mumm informed the students that they would be receiving an “X” grade in the course. The reason behind this decision was his utilization of the AI chatbot called “Chat GPT” (officially known as “ChatGPT”) to determine if they had used the software to write their papers. Astonishingly, the chatbot claimed to have authored each and every essay, leading to a drastic outcome.
“I copy and paste your responses in this account and Chat GTP will tell me if the program generated the content,” Dr. Mumm, who teaches agricultural sciences and natural resources, wrote in the email, misspelling Chat GPT. “I put everyone’s last three assignments through two separate times and if they were both claimed by Chat GTP you received a 0,” he added.
To prevent the student from getting failing grades which could potentially jeopardize the students’ graduation status, Dr. Jared Mumm offered an opportunity for the class to complete a makeup assignment. By offering this alternative task, he aimed to provide a chance for the students to avoid the consequences of failing grades.
According to Rolling Stone, the university placed the official diplomas of most seniors on hold after the incident. Dr. Jared Mumm offered the class an opportunity to redo the assignment to avoid a failing grade.
However, it should be noted that ChatGPT was not specifically designed to detect content created by AI, including its own. Several other programs, such as Winston AI and Content at Scale, have capabilities in this regard.
Meanwhile, in a follow-up post, DearKick mentioned that several students reached out to Dr. Mumm, providing him with timestamped Google Docs as evidence that they did not utilize ChatGPT. However, the professor allegedly ignored the emails and only responded through the grading software, dismissing their claims by stating, “I don’t grade AI bullshit,” as stated by DearKick.
DearKick also mentioned that one student was exonerated and received an apology from Dr. Mumm. Additionally, two other students admitted to using ChatGPT earlier in the semester, which complicated the situation for those who did not.
Texas A&M also confirmed in a statement to PC Magazine that an investigation is underway, ensuring that no students failed the class or were prevented from graduating as a result of the incident. The university stated that Dr. Mumm is collaborating with the students to determine whether AI was employed in their assignments and to what extent. However, the affected students’ diplomas will remain on hold until the investigation concludes.
The use of AI technology in education has become a topic of debate. While some schools in Texas have prohibited students from using ChatGPT, others are exploring ways to incorporate this AI chatbot into their educational practices.