Understanding AI and Plagiarism

Use of AI and Plagiarism

Keeping it Authentic

When students learn, we must keep it "real".  We want students and parents/guardians to have confidence that their child is learning the material.  We also want post-secondary institutions to be able to rely on our evaluation of student ability.  Therefore, the following is important to know before attending our school:

  1. Cameras on for assessment: for many courses when the assessment occurs, the teacher will use FOCUS MODE in Zoom (only teachers can see the screens, not other students) and student is to have their camera on.
  2. AI and plagiarism detector: we use Turnitin, and various AI detectors when written material is handed in.  
  3. Test and Exam security is important; therefore, tests will not be distributed after they are taken.


The Rise of AI

Students should remember that the purpose of being in a learning environment is to learn and not to be perfect. Teachers understand that students might make mistakes, have gaps in their knowledge, and may not be able to answer all questions flawlessly. The essential aspect of teaching is to provide tasks that are challenging yet achievable for students to learn from their failures and improve their skills. However, the increasing use of AI in education is removing the human aspect of learning. For instance, if a student uses AI to rewrite their essay (or write it from scratch), they are not benefiting from the learning process. The student's brain is not forming new neural connections because it didn't need to build the foundational skills required for the task. It's similar to saying, "I read a novel, so I know how to write one." Even though there is some learning by example, it's essential to engage in the task to develop new skills. Watching someone perform an activity and performing the same activity is vastly different. The neurons firing in an athlete's brain are not the same as a viewer's.

Attention Math and Science students! AI-powered solutions for math have been available for years. However, the process that AI may differ from what your teacher is teaching you in class. The problem arises when you are learning one aspect of the formation through your course and a different way through AI. The question is, do you know why AI chose that particular method? The "why" in math is what allows for a higher level of understanding and problem-solving. Simply memorizing a formula is not equivalent to understanding Math. The ability to apply the formula and knowing when to use it is an essential part of the "why". Any student of Physics can tell you that knowing all the formulas is not enough, but understanding how to apply them in tandem or concert is crucial. AI can show you the solution, but use your brain to accomplish the result. When you're asked to prove your understanding, ultimately you must do it for yourself.

This is why we need students to actually do the work. Yes, use AI to tweak the work and give suggestions, start your research, give you ideas, evaluate what you did, and give you feedback.  


Plagiarism and AI

Plagiarism refers to copying a task or assignment, partially or entirely, from another person or artificial intelligence and presenting it as one's work. In the case of online learning, it is even more critical to have systems in place due to how students submit assignments and access asynchronous courses. Summit Trails uses various systems to check students' work for plagiarism, including Turnitin and ZeroGPT, along with other research tools, to help identify work that has been directly copied. If this occurs, it may result in the following actions:

  • Discuss with the student why the plagiarism occurred or send an email to the student stating that the work has been identified in the system as plagiarized.
  • Students may be removed from the course if the offence is repeated.

Other actions taken by the teacher may include:

    • The student will receive a Not Handed Designation (0%); the student may be able to resubmit the assignment.
    • Status of "incomplete" for the assignment
    • An opportunity to redo the assignment or one similar, if time allows
    • Academic counselling
    • Learning Support Teacher assistance


The Use of AI has numerous applications - here is what teachers are looking for:

  • Written work not completed by the student or high percentage by AI
  • Statements or facts with a bibliography or evidence
    • AI is not a reliable source - there must be proper links to sources
  • Processes not taught in class but used in the assignment - student does not understand 
  • ELA - asking AI to edit work by which it rewrites the sentence using different words and bringing out new meanings.
    • Editing software is available and permitted - but students should use this with caution.

Land Acknowledgment

Rocky View Schools would like to acknowledge the land and recognize all the Indigenous Peoples whose footprints have marked these lands from time immemorial. Together, we can learn and honour the Ways of Knowing of Indigenous Peoples for all future generations.