Academic Ethics at Risk: Francis Lewis High School Weighs the Impact of Chat GPT


The release of the artificial intelligence program, Chat GPT, on November 30, 2022 has caused an uproar in the educational community. Nearly 90% of students have admitted to using the AI program to complete their homework assignments, essays, and even classwork.

Francis Lewis High School teacher and administrators, including Principal Dr. Marmor, are currently trying to learn more about the capabilities of Chat GPT and how to put a stop to the increasingly high rate of academic fraud that it is caused by AI. 

“My concerns are what anyone would think it would be: students using Chat GPT to do the work for them, whether it be for factual based things or whether it be for creative things,” Dr. Marmor said. “I am aware that Chat GPT can attempt to do creative things like writing poems, letters, and speeches. It can also answer factual based questions, answer prompts, math, computer coding; it can pretty much attempt to do a little bit of everything. I believe that this is a tool that can have potentially positive uses, but has enormous potential for very negative uses.” 

AP English Language and Composition teacher, Ms O’Connell, fears that students who use the AI program “don’t take the time to actually learn how to write in a way that satisfies the assignment,” and instead just solely rely on Chat GPT.

“From what I’ve seen, I do think it writes well, but it lacks the students’ own words, and the students’ voice, which does typically come through when you write something yourself,” Ms. O’Connell clarified.

As this issue is still fresh for many students and faculty, the term being used to describe this phenomena is unclear. Many people are describing the usage of Chat GPT as plagiarism, when the correct term for this is academic fraud. Either way, both are unacceptable in a school environment.  

“If a student turns in the work from Chat GPT, even though they are not guilty of plagiarizing the original author, they are committing what’s called academic fraud; they’re turning in work that they did not produce” Dr. Marmor said. “We’ve caught people using [Chat GPT] for writing essays and answering prompts by using AI detection programs.”

Many teachers including Ms. O’Connell have had at least one student that they have caught using Chat GPT. Ms. O’Connell later mentioned that when realizing one of her students had submitted work using Chat GPT, it upset her because “it was clear that the student lied about it being their own work” and she knew that they were capable of doing better work on their own. Using Chat GPT unethically takes away the critical thinking and synthesizing portion of an assignment which can be very detrimental to a child’s development as both a student and as a person. 

“We want to be very careful about not letting technology replace the human creative component, and human critical thinking. In my mind, that’s when it becomes dangerous to your educational development,” Dr. Marmor expressed. “One of the things you’re going to see until we’re positive that we have good detection systems is that there is going to be a lot more work taking place in the classroom. What I would imagine is that the work at home would be doing the research part; meaning pulling information and gathering resources, but as for the synthesizing of the content and the creative work, I think you’re going to start seeing a lot more of that happening live in the room where you cannot use the assistance of Chat GPT.”

The NYC DOE believed the best option to mitigate the dangers that Chat GPT poses was to place a ban on Chat GPT in schools. This took place in late December of 2022. However, some students and faculty members have opposing views on whether or not this will actually lower the amount of students using Chat GPT for their school work. 

“I think that it’s the right decision for now, at least until we learn a little bit more about the AI program,” Ms. O’Connell said. “I think especially in a school setting, students are here to learn the writing process and to complete work on their own, to the best of their ability, and using Chat GPT obviously takes away from that.”

When speaking to Dr. Marmor, he mentioned that he agrees with “the concept of banning it” but he is not convinced that it will deter students from using it in a negative way. 

“I don’t think the ban will actually have any major impact because the ban is only in place in the wifi system inside of our building, so there’s nothing to stop students from using the program on their phones or using it on their own data,” Dr. Marmor explained. “There’s nothing stopping students from using it at home, so no, I don’t believe that the ban will have any major impact, but I do agree that it is better if Chat GPT stays out of the building,”

Sophomore Jonathan Pinkhas agrees with Dr. Marmor, stating that he believes the ban on Chat GPT alone, will not have any major impact on whether or not students will utilize it inside or outside of the building. 

“All it is, is just an inconvenience. I’d still be able to use it on my phone, inside of school, outside of school, anywhere I go, I can still use it. For example, let’s say I’m in school, all I have to do is just disconnect from the wifi and I’m free to use it. I have cellular data so they cannot control that, so regardless of what they do it’s not really going to control what students do with Chat GPT.”

With this in mind, a better approach to the situation might be to educate students on the vast benefits and positive resources that Chat GPT can provide, rather than only acknowledging the negative uses. There have recently been many accounts of people starting to use it as a study tool or as a model for assignments. 

“My daughter is a medical school student, and she’s the one who first alerted me to the existence of it, and when I told her, ‘you know you’re putting a lot of time and money and effort into medical school, please don’t use something like that and rob yourself of your education’, she said, ‘well, I’m using it for good reasons’” Dr. Marmor explained. “I said, ‘Okay, give me an example’. And she said, ‘well, we’re doing a unit right now on neuroanatomy, so I asked Chat GPT to give me a sample of 20 questions in neuroanatomy as a review.’ Chat GPT created 20 questions on neuroanatomy. She did the review and then after doing so she asked Chat GPT to give her the answers and therefore, checked herself and she used it as a study guide.” 

Many students that attend Francis Lewis High School are hit with a huge workload, taking multiple advanced placement classes and honors classes, while still being expected to participate in extracurricular activities. Using Chat GPT to study can cut down students’ study time and allow them to participate in the activities that they desire while maintaining a steady grade point average.

“Honestly, I feel like I do use Chat GPT, but not for the things that you might be thinking of,” Pinkhas said. “I think we should definitely promote the whole studying situation because for me, personally, it saves hours upon hours of time. I know that especially in Francis Lewis, there are a lot of students who study endlessly when they get home and using Chat GPT to help them, can cut hours off of their study time. It gives me bullet points, summarizations, and accurate information that gets straight to the point.”

Ms. O’Connell stated that along with using Chat GPT as a study tool, it can also be used to help students “understand what their assignment should look like” by using it as a model. 

“I think if we go back to the idea of it being used to create a model example, then that could be a benefit of incorporating it into the classroom or into the curriculum,” Ms. O’Connell said. “I also think it can be used as a comparative tool, like this is what it looks like when you don’t write something yourself. So maybe down the line it could be incorporated or beneficial for sure.”

One of the main reasons why Chat GPT is so widely referred to as a negative tool is because that is the only way it is promoted. Jonathan Pinkhas believes that instead, we should highlight the ways that Chat GPT can be beneficial to education.

“If we encourage the positive use of this, it will only lead to people being distracted with the positives rather than them being distracted with negatives,” Pinkhas explained. “Everybody has the idea of Chat GPT being a cheating tool, but instead let’s turn it into a study tool because that’s the best possible way that students can use it.”