56% of College Students Have Used AI on Assignments or Exams
Editor & Writer
Editor & Writer
- 53% of students say they have had coursework that requires them to use AI as part of an assignment.
- Nearly 80% of students say they have had at least one instructor discuss the use and ethics of AI in the classroom.
- More than half of students (58%) say that their school or program has a policy about the use of generative AI tools to complete assignments or exams.
- More than one-quarter (28%) say some courses/professors have a policy and some do not.
Last year, OpenAI released its large language model called ChatGPT, a chatbot capable of generating answers almost instantaneously — whether that be writing essays, summarizing books, or explaining difficult math problems. Students suddenly had access to a new, powerful technology.
Now a year later, BestColleges has surveyed 1,000 current undergraduate and graduate students to hear their perspectives on AI in higher education. Results show that 56% of college students have used AI on assignments or exams. Another 41% of students say they have not, and 4% prefer not to answer.
At the same time, professors are assigning students specifically to use these tools. Just over half of students (53%) say they have had coursework that requires them to use AI as part of an assignment. And, nearly 8 in 10 students (79%) say they have had an instructor talk to them about the use and ethics of AI in the classroom.
The majority of students (54%) say using AI on schoolwork or exams counts as cheating or plagiarism. Around 1 in 5 students (21%) say that using AI to complete assignments or exams is not cheating or plagiarism. One-quarter of students remain neutral.
In our March survey, a much smaller percentage of students (22%) responded that they had used AI tools to help complete assignments or exams. A similar percentage of students (51%) as the new survey, however, had still believed using AI on exams constituted cheating.
In an October webinar called "Applying AI to Improve Courses, Teaching, and Learning," moderator Andrew Maynard, a professor at Arizona State University, emphasized that using AI to cheat is a short-term problem. He argued the education system must fundamentally change to create better assessments and better prepare students with AI skills for a changing job market.
According to Hadi Partovi, CEO of the nonprofit Code.org, AI is the most important topic for students to learn. Possibly even more than math.
How Are Colleges Responding to the Use of AI?
More than half of students (58%) say that their school or program has a policy about the use of generative AI tools to complete assignments or exams. One in 10 students (10%) say their school or program does not have an AI policy, and 5% do not know.
More than one-quarter (28%) say it differs —some courses or professors communicate a policy, and some do not.
Students whose programs do have an AI usage policy say this policy was communicated to them through their course syllabus (65%), email (43%), or a student handbook or honor code (42%).
Since the release of ChatGPT, companies have alternatively released AI detection tools. For example, the popular plagiarism tracker Turnitin launched an AI detection tool for college professors, which pairs with their other programs that check for originality. Turns out, these tools are pretty accurate.
Discover More Data About AI Use in College
Six in 10 college students say the use of AI tools in college diminishes the value of earning a degree. Plus, 40% percent worry about the influence of AI on their major.
AI Tools in College Most Popular Among Business and STEM Majors, Men, and Millennials
Some student groups are more likely to report using AI tools to complete college coursework than others. Business and STEM majors, men, and millennials are more likely than humanities majors, women, and Gen Z to report using the tools.
AI Tools More Popular Among Business Students
More business majors report having used AI tools such as ChatGPT to help complete assignments or exams than humanities majors (62% vs. 52%). STEM majors are somewhere in between, with 59% responding that they have used AI tools to complete assignments or exams.
Business majors are also most likely to respond that they had coursework that required them to use AI as part of an assignment — over 61% of business majors compared to 45% of humanities majors and 58% of STEM majors.
In addition to being most likely to use AI tools, business majors are least likely to say that using AI tools to complete assignments or exams is cheating or plagiarism. Just 51% of business majors consider using AI tools to complete assignments or exams as cheating or plagiarism, compared to 57% of humanities majors and 55% of STEM majors.
Men Far More Likely to Report Using AI Tools Than Women
A higher percentage of men than women report having used AI tools such as ChatGPT to help complete assignments or exams (64% vs. 48%).
Men are also more likely than women to answer that they have had coursework that required them to use AI as part of an assignment (62% vs. 44%).
It is worth noting that a much higher percentage of men make up business and STEM majors, which were the fields that required students to use AI tools at a higher rate than others. In our survey, 1 in 5 men (20%) were business majors compared to 16% of women. Only 3% of women were in computer and information sciences and support services compared to 13% of men.
A similar percentage of men and women (56% vs. 52%) agree that using AI tools to complete assignments or exams is cheating or plagiarism.
6 in 10 Millennial Students Have Used AI Tools vs. Half of Gen Z
More millennial students report having used AI tools such as ChatGPT to help complete assignments or exams than Gen Z students (62% vs. 52%).
A much higher percentage of millennial students than Gen Z say that they have had coursework that required them to use AI as part of an assignment (65% vs. 46%).
Despite using AI tools at a higher rate, millennials are also more likely than Gen Z students to say that using AI to complete assignments or exams constitutes cheating or plagiarism (56% vs. 53%).
This survey was conducted from Sept. 29-Oct. 5, 2023, and was fielded by Pure Spectrum. Survey participants included 1,000 respondents nationwide who were currently enrolled in an on-campus, online, or hybrid undergraduate or graduate degree program. Respondents were 17-49 years of age, with the majority (95%) ages 18-38, and currently pursuing an associate, bachelor's, master's, doctoral, or professional degree. The respondents for the survey were screened by various quality checks, including systems like Relevant ID, and responses were manually reviewed to ensure consistency and accuracy.