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Professors Use Oral Exams to Thwart AI-Enabled Cheating

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two students study in a classroom

Oral examinations, which date at least to ancient Greece, are getting new attention.

Credit: Getty Images

A wave of professors around the world are experimenting with oral exams to improve teaching and learning and to discourage cheating.

Plaigiarism increased at the nation's universities when the pandemic hit, according to Turnitin, a company which sells a plagiarism-detection system. ChatGPT, which became accessible to the public last year, added another variable. This spring, Turnitin found about 4% of papers turned into professors were generated almost entirely by artificial intelligence.

Prof. Huihui Qi at the University of California, San Diego, turned to oral exams in 2020 to discourage cheating. That led to a three-year research experiment which has now stretched across 7,000 oral exams.

Qi believes the exams can push students past rote memorization, prompt them to think on their feet, and reveal a student's conceptual understanding of the subject matter better than most written exams. They are also very hard to hack.

From The Wall Street Journal
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