“Given a 0 on a Significant Grade for Using Grammarly” – AI-detectors are Flagging Everything Left and Right

In an online English class last month, Alex Johnson, a straight-A student, faced a startling accusation of academic dishonesty for using Grammarly, a popular digital writing assistant tool. Johnson’s predicament has ignited a discussion on the ambiguity of academic honesty policies in the digital age.

Johnson, who maintains a perfect 4.0 GPA, submitted a synthesis essay for his online English class in April, which accounted for 10% of his overall grade. He was shocked to receive a 0 on this assignment last week with the teacher’s feedback suggesting the detection of AI use.

The professor requested an email from Johnson for further discussion. Due to scheduling conflicts, Johnson had to settle for a phone call instead of an in-person meeting. During the call, Johnson clarified that he hadn’t used an AI to write his essay, explaining his writing process and drafts, which were prepared using Grammarly.

Grammarly, a tool Johnson had been using for years without issue, and often under the advisement of his teachers, assists with spelling and grammar corrections – a function similar to Microsoft Word’s built-in spell check. However, his professor suggested that using Grammarly was tantamount to cheating according to the academic dishonesty policy.

Johnson, however, pointed out that there was no specific prohibition against Grammarly in the syllabus or any other class documentation. Despite this, the professor felt the grade was appropriate, declining Johnson’s request to rewrite the assignment. Johnson now faces the threat of this incident being marked on his permanent academic record as an act of cheating.

Before this incident, Johnson had been enjoying a 99% score in this class. The zero grade on his essay has now dropped his class score to an 84%. Even with perfect scores on his remaining assignments, the best he can hope for is an 89.37%.

The situation has left Johnson questioning if he should escalate the issue to the dean or accept the grade. His predicament raises essential questions about the clarity of academic policies and the need for explicit guidelines on the use of digital writing tools in academia.

This incident has sparked a heated debate on Reddit. Students, teachers, and other Reddit users are sharing their reactions, revealing varying academic policies and attitudes toward digital writing tools.

Several students noted that their institutions provide Grammarly subscriptions, particularly through disability offices. A professor added that their college licenses Grammarly Premium for the entire campus, arguing that it is vital for their students, especially those studying law. The tool not only corrects grammar but also serves as a teaching aid.

“That’s wild. Grammarly subscriptions are given to students through the disability office at my school.”

Another user pointed out that many schools not only license Grammarly for staff and faculty use but also utilize it for official communications. This reinforces the argument that the tool is generally accepted within the academic community.

One student humorously shared his experience of using AI, in this case, ChatGPT, to write parts of his paper, and not being flagged by any AI detection software. In contrast, a seasoned professor commented that AI tools like TurnItIn are not necessary to detect when a paper isn’t student-written, but they do help in documenting such instances.

“This stuff is funny to me because I used chatgpt to write the intro and conclusion for a paper I had to do and every AI checker said it was ok.”

Most online users expressed support for Johnson and recommended that he appeal the decision. They suggested presenting drafts, final versions, and Grammarly error reports as evidence of the original work. Some commenters encouraged bringing the issue up to the department chair or academic advisors before escalating to the dean.

One student suggested that Johnson ask for a list of software that is considered cheating to avoid future mishaps.

Some users expressed concerns about the potential prohibition of Grammarly, especially given that many schools offer subscriptions. They voiced the need for clarity in academic honesty policies regarding tools like Grammarly.

Several students and faculty members advised following the correct reporting chain and not jumping directly to the dean. They stressed the importance of adhering to procedural norms to avoid jeopardizing one’s academic career.

“This is terrifying as hell. Don’t give up, fight with the dean. Get everything your teacher told you here in writing, and forward it to the dean. Grammarly is not cheating nor should it ever be considered cheating. If you give up now the teacher will think that she’s in the right, but in most schools, you will not be found guilty of cheating.”

This incident underscores the need for explicit guidelines and consistency in academic policies regarding the use of digital writing tools. As technology continues to evolve, so too must our approach to ensuring academic integrity.

Follow us on Reddit for more insights and updates.

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