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SQA News 9 March 2023

AI-generated responses

As artificial intelligence (AI) continues to develop, we must consider the impacts on education and assessment. 

Many of our assessments are conducted under conditions that prevent the use of such online AI tools. There are also checkpoints built into assessment approaches that enable teachers and lecturers to identify work that may not be authentic. 

Plagiarism detection software companies have been working for some time to address the threat that AI poses to the integrity of assessment. Tools such as ChatGPT present challenges to these companies as well as to the wider education system.  

While plagiarism is a long-standing issue, it should be reiterated that is rare for learners to submit work to SQA that is not their own or hasn’t been produced in accordance with the relevant assessment conditions. 

SQA has robust malpractice procedures in place which outlines that learners who submit work that is not their own risk serious penalty, including the potential cancellation of their award. We are also reviewing our guidance for our assessors and markers to help them identify and escalate concerns around potentially plagiarised or AI-generated responses. 

Centre staff play an important role in retaining the credibility of SQA’s qualifications. They can support and encourage learners to have confidence in their own ideas and ability. Teachers and lecturers must ensure that learners understand what constitutes malpractice and the potential consequence of copying or misusing technology. They become familiar with a learner’s work overtime and are vital in identifying evidence that does not appear to have been produced by that learner. 

To help reduce the potential use or risk of AI-generated responses centres can: 

  • Inform learners about the ethics of submitting work that is not their own and how this affects their learning and the value of their qualifications  

  • Communicate with learners about malpractice and the potential consequences of submitting work that isn’t their own 

  • Remind learners about signing the flyleaf that accompanies any coursework submitted to SQA and what this declaration means 

  • Ensure the conditions of assessment are correctly adhered to   

  • Be alert to work submitted by learners that is, in part or in full, uncharacteristic of their typical style or standard of work 

  • Monitor learner progress when drafting submissions through progress checklists or spot checks and/or asking the learner about the work they have submitted 

  • Review centre internal policy and processes and update where necessary  

We appreciate your support in maintaining SQA’s standards and encouraging learners to have the confidence to realise their ability through their own work. 

Visit our website for more information on malpractice.