Are measures against using Artificial Intelligence at IE University driving Innovation?


     Several students have noticed decreased essays, written assignments, and research projects and increased group presentations and multiple-choice exams, especially in bachelor’s degrees related to Humanities, Law, Philosophy and International Relations. Is this a measure IE has taken since the launch of Generative AI  or a trend in the professor’s teaching and evaluation methods to prevent students from using AI in written assignments?

Some of the takeaways from the past semester’ structure

There is no doubt that since last year, with the launch of ChatGPT and other artificial intelligence technologies, higher education systems feel threatened, with a drastic increase in plagiarism, cheating in assignments and exams, and lower engagement by students to complete assignments on their own without having to rely on such technologies. As higher education institutions seek solutions to address this challenge of navigating the unchartered waters of a digital sea, there has been a backlash in the education systems, forcing institutions to take strict measures against using artificial intelligence for assignments to prevent plagiarism and maintain integrity and institutional reputation. 

IE University, among other institutions of higher education, fears that there will be a decrease in the student’s critical thinking and an increasing dependency on these emerging technologies, and they are not wrong for trying to maintain a strict position towards the use of these technologies; however, some of the measures taken either by the institution or professors could backfire in the critical thinking of students as well.

This semester, PPLE, Law and International Relations students have noticed decreased written assignments and essays and a drastic increase in presentations and emphasis on final exams. This probably isn’t one of the University’s policies against the use of generative AI. However, it could be a behavioural trend by professors due to the lack of trust they have in students since the emergence of this technology. 

Talking with some professors from The School of Politics Economics and Global Affairs, we concluded that some measures that they took aim to decrease the use of artificial intelligence in assignments and rebuild trust in students through oral group presentations. Therefore, the lack of confidence in students and the several plagiarism and cheating cases through these technologies has unconsciously driven professors to rely upon and implement other ways of evaluation. Nevertheless, this has impacted the balance of learning methods in these faculty areas since essays and written assignments are crucial components for students’ critical thinking in bachelor’s programs related to humanities, politics, law, international relations, and philosophy.  

Assessment methods may hinder learning capacities and critical thinking. 

One of the main changes this semester was the mandatory weight increase in final exams to challenge students and increase overall performance. Due to the emergence of these technologies, Governmental guidelines where set upon universities in Spain to mantain the academic level and prestige of public and private institutions; therefore, the new attendance policy, including the new weight of final exams, could result from government regulations. The new mandatory weight of final exams lies on a minimum quota of 40%, increasing the emphasis on a one-time assessment.

While this is an average weight per cent for final exams, especially in universities, the format in which many of these exams are taken is under the opinion of many students not driving innovation. Having a one-time assessment in a multiple-choice format is not challenging for students. It is an outdated evaluation method where students do not show deep understanding and critical thinking of the topics learned during the semester, putting at a disadvantage those who have a deeper understanding of the topics studied. 

A written assignment is a way in which students can demonstrate their critical thinking, research, analysis, and innovative thinking capacities to devise efficient solutions to modern society’s challenges. It’s a way in which students can express their political and social convictions over world-challenging topics, and it leaves the students with long-lasting learning and understanding, increasing their critical capacities, especially when trying to address further issues or challenges in the future.

Having a written assignment on a relevant topic is a powerful tool, not only because the student will remember the topics covered, but also because it’s quality material that students may use in the future when researching other topics that can potentially be related to past assignments. Through writing students develop a deep understanding of very complex topics increasing the personal development of high-performance research skills. Moreover, having these types of assessment methods is beneficial. It is a tool that students can look back at when conducting research related to topics covered in the past.

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AI is not unbeatable and we should embrace that fact

One of the concerns of several professors is that students can use AI as a source of inspiration for their written assignments, hindering the student’s critical thinking, another concern is that AI has advanced so much that generated texts are hard to detect. However, ChatGPT and other generative AI systems have a very similar and obvious pattern of written style that is very low-engaging, inhuman and highly detectable. While this software effectively generates well-written text based on data collection, it has an impersonal written style. Moreover, hundreds of software (Turnitin) detect plagiarism on written assignments.

Conversely, AI can sometimes be a powerful research tool that enables individuals to filter information from large data sets and large chunks of complex text; therefore, students should be aware of how they can wisely implement such tools when conducting analytical research. The approach of banning these technologies is accurate since it hinders students from thinking critically; however, it’s relevant to remember that it’s an emerging technology that came to stay and that we can wisely use to increase human productivity. 

Final Thoughts

This semester, we see a change in the efforts of Professors and IE University to take measures against the use of AI. We have seen structural changes being made to maintain the integrity of our institution and the honesty of students; however, one of the key takeaways from the bachelors mentioned above during this semester is the decrease of written assignments, whether intentionally or unconsciously, as a behavioural trend by professors to restore trust in students after several plagiarism cases in these types of assignments.

Notwithstanding, we conclude that having so much weight on a multiple choice exam is counterproductive and damaging for the student’s GPA. Alternatively, a research assignment during the semester as an evaluation method allows students to show their critical thinking, research skills, and analytical capabilities, reducing injustices in evaluation methods and creating a more equal and assertive evaluation system.

Emanuel Mayagoitia
Emanuel Mayagoitia
Highly motivated International Relations student with a passion for global politics and a strong understanding of international relations theories. Strong research and analytical skills, with experience in policy analysis and cross-cultural communication. Seeking opportunities to apply skills and knowledge to real-world issues.

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