Since the first decade of the twenty-first century, California community colleges have struggled to find a solution to the easy access to information that the Internet has provided. In 2005, the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges (ASCCC) passed two resolutions, 14.01 and 14.02 . Both resolutions sought to increase faculty’s authority to fail a student who has cheated for a course, not just for the assignment in question. In 2007, the ASCCC adopted the paper Promoting and Sustaining an Institutional Climate of Academic Integrity as a sign that faculty were—and continue to be—concerned with “the proliferation of electronic resources” and that “they feel uncertain about their rights and responsibilities as well as about those of their students” (ASCCC, 2007). Numerous ASCCC resolutions and Rostrum articles have continued since that paper was published, but the challenges remain and, in some ways, have become more complex.
For example, a revolutionary tool made headlines in late 2022 and early 2023. ChatGPT is an artificial intelligence powered chatbot that can generate responses based on a prompt that the user inputs. In fact, ChatGPT was able to pass exams given in law school and graduate business courses, although not with exemplary scores (Murphy Kelly, 2023). Unsurprisingly, users of ChatGPT are getting help with homework and other assignments for their classes.
Both in the past and currently, faculty have framed and continue to frame issues of academic integrity through a deficit lens, as unacceptable student behaviors. Resolutions, Rostrum articles, and ASCCC adopted papers have nearly all framed failures of academic integrity as the sole responsibility of students. As such, ASCCC resolutions that have been presented and adopted sought to increase the penalties in order to act as a deterrent. In the juvenile and adult justice system, some have noted that “harsher punishments, such as longer prison sentences, not only do not prevent crime but may actually have the opposite effect” (Knight, 2020). One might ask whether this could also be the case in education when faculty are empowered with the ability to issue a failing grade in a course for a single incident involving academic integrity and whether such actions are creating the actual desired effect. Instead of looking at failures of academic integrity through a deficit lens, one might look at them as an opportunity for faculty to learn to stay, at the very least, well informed.
EDUCATE AND REHABILITATE, NOT CASTIGATE AND ALIENATE
In 1997-98, the academic community was provided with what many considered a formidable tool to help encourage academic integrity. Turnitin ushered in an era where plagiarism could be identified in merely minutes. Nearly twenty years later, a 2015 study found that the majority of study participants held a view that the plagiarism they encountered was treated as unintentional and penalized only what they considered to be extreme versions of intentional plagiarism, which often contradicted the way they presented the concept of plagiarism in their syllabi and their classrooms (Bruton & Childers, 2016). Faculty should take an active role in clarifying and make more explicit in their syllabi what is considered plagiarism in order to help educate and inform students.
One way to better inform students on this issue is to use the tools themselves in class as a teaching tool. Turnitin, ChatGPT, or other artificial intelligence can be used as a tool for teaching and educating students in a number of ways while promoting the value and ethics of academic integrity. The following are a few suggestions:
- Use Turnitin, ChatGPT, or other artificial intelligence to provide students with additional information and resources. These resources can be used to supplement lectures, readings, and other course materials, providing students with additional information and insights. For example, one could use ChatGPT to provide students with definitions, explanations, and examples related to course concepts.
- Encourage critical thinking and independent learning. Rather than using Turnitin, ChatGPT, or other artificial intelligence to provide students with answers to specific questions, encourage them to use the tool to explore and expand their understanding of course topics. Encourage them to ask open-ended questions and to use the information provided by ChatGPT to generate their own ideas and perspectives.
- Emphasize the importance of citation and academic integrity. Make certain that students understand that they are responsible for properly citing any information they receive from ChatGPT or any other source. Emphasize the importance of academic integrity and the consequences of plagiarism.
- Set clear guidelines for the use of ChatGPT. Provide students with clear guidance and expectations for how they should use ChatGPT. For example, one could specify that ChatGPT should only be used for clarification or additional information and not for answers to graded assignments or assessments. 
Turnitin, ChatGPT, and other artificial intelligence tools can be resources for teaching and can be an effective way to enhance student learning as long as they are used responsibly and in a way that emphasizes academic integrity and critical thinking. Academic integrity is essential for the preservation of the academic enterprise and the pursuit of knowledge, as it helps to ensure that academic work is trustworthy, reliable, and of high quality and it promotes a culture of honesty, fairness, and respect in academic communities.
Finally, one might consider the intense focus on students and the deficit thinking that plagues California community colleges. Deficit language and thinking refers to language or thoughts that frame individuals or groups as deficient, inferior, or lacking in some way, often based on stereotypes or biases (Griffin, 2014). It can have negative effects on both individuals and communities and can perpetuate systemic inequalities and injustices. Some might see this type of deficit language and thinking in the past resolutions and Rostrum articles related to academic dishonesty. As the ASCCC continues to work on its core commitment to inclusion, diversity, equity, anti-racism, and accessibility, the use of deficit language is being critically evaluated to move away from its use.
The landscape that California community colleges find themselves navigating necessitates a new perspective on enduring puzzles. Recognizing the heightened concern the field has developed with these new technologies, and the known and unknown implications for teaching and learning, the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges will work to investigate this issue and develop resources to assist the field.
Academic Senate for California Community Colleges. (2007). Promoting and Sustaining an Institutional Climate of Academic Integrity. https://www.asccc.org/sites/default/files/publications/academic-integrity-2007_0.pdf
Bruton, S. & Childers, D. (2016). The ethics and politics of policing plagiarism: a qualitative study of faculty views on student plagiarism and Turnitin. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 41 (2), 316-330. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/02602938.2015.1008981
Griffin, Ashley. (2014, Sept. 22). Questioning the Deficit. The Education Trust. https://edtrust.org/the-equity-line/questioning-deficit/#:~:text=Simply%20asking%20that%20question%20renders,despite%20information%20about%20its%20harm.
Knight, B. (2020, July 16). Do harsher punishments deter crime? UNSW Newsroom. https://newsroom.unsw.edu.au/news/business-law/do-harsher-punishments-deter-crime
Murphy Kelly, S. (2023, Jan. 26). ChatGPT passes exams from law and business schools. CNN Business, https://www.cnn.com/2023/01/26/tech/chatgpt-passes-exams/index.html
1. Full text of all ASCCC resolutions can be accessed at https://www.asccc.org/resources/resolutions.
2. For more information on the use of artificial intelligence as a teaching tool, see Rose, Jennifer, (2023, Feb 21), “ChatGPT as a teaching tool, not a cheating tool” in Times Higher Education, https://www.timeshighereducation.com/campus/chatgpt-teaching-tool-not-cheating-tool and Thomas, Paul, (2023, Feb 28), “ChatGPT and a new battle in the citation gauntlet for students and teachers” in Radical Scholarship, https://radicalscholarship.com/2023/02/28/chatgpt-and-a-new-battle-in-the-citation-gauntlet-for-students-and-teachers/.