As AI Chatbots Rise, More Educators Look to Oral Exams — With High-Tech Twist

This article is part of the guide: For Education, ChatGPT Holds Promise — and Creates Problems. By Jeffrey R. Young Oct 5, 2023

The use of AI chatbots in education has raised concerns about students relying too heavily on technology to complete assignments. However, AI can also play a role in helping teachers evaluate students’ work and measure learning. While oral exams have been used for centuries, grading them can be time-consuming. With the emergence of AI-powered tools like Sherpa, oral exams are becoming more efficient and scalable. This renewed interest in oral exams may be due to the fact that they allow for more interaction and feedback, making them a better way to assess student learning than essays. Despite the role of AI, it is important for educators to strike a balance between using technology to enhance learning and ensuring that students are still actively engaged in the learning process.

Of course, it might not be bulletproof, but perhaps there are other ways to avoid cheating here.

Compared to a traditional essay assignment, Carlson believes that the approach makes it harder for students to cheat using ChatGPT or other AI tools. But she adds that some students did have notes in front of them as they went through Sherpa’s questions, and in theory those notes could have come from a chatbot.

Tey, one of the Stanford students who built Sherpa, says that if the instructor chooses to let the AI ask questions, the system does so in a way that is meant to mimic how an oral exam is structured. Specifically, Sherpa uses an educational theory called the Depth of Knowledge framework that asks questions of various types depending on a student’s answer. “If the student struggled a little with the previous response, the follow-up will resemble more of a ‘hey, take a step back’, and ask a broader, more simplified question,” says Tey. “Alternatively, if they answered well previously, the follow-up will be designed to probe for deeper understanding, drawing upon specific phrases and quotes from the student’s previous response.”

Read the article and let me know what you think.

Fighting AI With AI

Two undergraduate students who are researchers at Stanford University’s Piech Lab, which focuses on “using computational techniques to transform fundamental areas of society,” believe one way to bring back oral exams may be to harness artificial intelligence.

The students, Joseph Tey and Shaurya Sinha have built a tool called Sherpa that is designed to help educators hear students talk through an assigned reading to determine how well they understood it.

To use Sherpa, an instructor first uploads the reading they’ve assigned, or they can have the student upload a paper they’ve written. Then, the tool asks a series of questions about the text (either questions input by the instructor or generated by the AI) to test the student’s grasp of key concepts. The software allows the instructor to choose whether they want the tool to record audio and video of the conversation or just audio.

The tool then uses AI to transcribe the audio from each student’s recording and flags areas where the student’s answer seemed off point. Teachers can review the recording or transcript of the conversation and look at what Sherpa flagged as trouble to evaluate the student’s response.

“I think something that’s overlooked in a lot of educational systems is your ability to have a discussion and hold an argument about your work,” says Tey. “And I think where the future is going is, it’s going to become even more important for students to be able to have those soft skills and be able to talk and communicate their ideas.”

The student developers have visited local high schools and put the word out on social media to get teachers to try their tool.

Carlson, the English teacher in Maine who has tried oral exams in IB classes, has used Sherpa to have students answer questions about an assigned portion of the science fiction novel “The Power” by Naomi Alderman via their laptop webcams.

“I wanted the students to speak on the novel as a way for them to understand what they understood,” she says. “I did not watch their videos, but I read their transcript, and I looked at how Sherpa scored it,” she says. “For the most part, it was spot on.”

She says Sherpa “verified” that, according to its calculation, all but four of the students understood the reading adequately. “The four students who got ‘warnings’ on several questions spoke too generally or answered something different than what was asked,” says Carlson. “Despite their promises that they read, I’m guessing they skimmed more than read carefully.”

The rest of the article is here. Edsurge


Title: As AI Chatbots Rise, More Educators Look to Oral Exams — With High-Tech Twist
Source: Teaching English using web 2.0
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Date: October 10, 2023 at 10:14AM
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