Starting a new assessment year in the age of ChatGPT

What a difference a year makes. The influence of ChatGPT after its arrival at the end of November last year makes the start of this academic year unprecedented.

In the image below (a simple analysis on Google Trends taken yesterday) we can see how search interest in ChatGPT appears to be tracking the school year with a clear dip in the summer recess. We can also see a projected rise as school returns.

What can we infer from this? Well certainly that ChatGPT has 'product-market fit' when it comes to education right now. Like all great products it does this by meeting user needs. Some of these needs, time saving for staff for example, are important but not important enough to drive the uptake we are seeing. Instead, the need that continues to drive uptake is for students to score high on assessments (especially high stakes ones).

Rising to the assessment challenge

We are starting to see regulators around the world responding. In the UK for example the UK Parliament has released its interim report on the governance of artificial intelligence where it concludes that "AI raises questions about the nature of assessment, particularly in subjects that rely heavily on coursework". The same report however highlights quite different views from the education establishment as to the best way forward.

Of course, while regulators try to play catch up, the technology continues to progress. With the need generated by current assessment practice unchanged, at least for now, demand can continue to only head in one direction.

RM Compare in the age of ChatGPT

The potential for RM Compare to counter assessment washback offers at least a partial way forward in meeting some of the challenges outlined in this article. It can do this by allowing us to think differently about the interdependencies of curriculum, pedagogy and assessment. In doing so it might be able to dampen the fire stoking current demand and instead allow us to think more progressively about the use of services like ChatGPT.