Exam body AQA is ‘actively exploring’ the uses of artificial intelligence in marking – with the chief executive claiming the only thing stopping it is ‘public confidence’.
CEO Colin Hughes said it’s so easy to do this that exam boards could use AI ‘tomorrow morning to mark markers’ but people ‘don’t seem to want them’.
He said ‘public confidence’ in AI technology is the only reason AQA isn’t using it to generate exam questions and mark students’ answers.
At an AI Symposium held by AQA, Dr Sheradan Miller – research fellow at the exam body – confirmed they are ‘actively exploring the potential uses’ of the technology.
But a research paper published by the same organisation found there is a limit to how much an AI-assisted system could be trusted.
CEO Colin Hughes said it’s so easy to do this that exam boards could use AI ‘tomorrow morning to mark markers’ but people ‘don’t seem to want them’. Credit: AQA
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Mr Hughes said that while ChatGPT attracts the most attention, it might not be the most ‘important or interesting’ technology available of this sort.
He explained how AQA – which marks around 10 million exam scripts every year – is interested in implementing AI in its work.
He told the Schools and Academies Show in Birmingham last week: ‘We could use AI pretty much tomorrow morning to mark markers.
‘Machines marking human markers … it’s very easy to do that.
‘So why aren’t we saying we’re doing it? Public confidence. That’s the only issue.
‘It’s fundamentally the same issue as driverless cars – they don’t knock down and kill so many people as humans, but still we don’t seem to want them.’
In response to a Department for Education consultation on the topic, AQA said there is ‘concrete potential’ for AI tools to make teachers’ lives easier and ‘complement’ human marking.
But it warned that AI tools can generate ‘wrong or misleading information’ so this technology would require human supervision.
Researchers trialled several AI tools to test their marking capabilities on science papers – including ChatGPT, GPT4, LLaMA and Alpaca.
He said ‘public confidence’ in AI technology is the only reason AQA isn’t using it to generate exam questions and mark the answers
In response to a Department for Education consultation on the topic, AQA said there is ‘concrete potential’ for AI tools to make teachers’ lives easier and ‘complement’ human marking. (Stock image)
They found that ‘in combination with human involvement and the right regulation’ the technology can be used to automate simple marking tasks, which could help give useful feedback to teachers.
The report by AQA also claimed artificial technology can be used to help generate assessments, marked by AI, which could provide a commentary on pupils’ answers.
But it warned this technology should be restricted to ‘low stakes, informal assessment’ as it is not suitable for ‘high-stakes examinations’ yet.
Dr Jo Saxton, the chief regulator at Ofqual, previously said the exams regulator will not allow AI to solely mark students’ work.
She said: ‘Then there is digital or AI marking in exams. I want to be absolutely unequivocal on this: when it comes to the latter – relying solely on artificial intelligence to mark students’ work – this is not something we will allow.
‘Interestingly, almost half of parents agreed with me. Of those polled, 45 per cent felt that that was something they would be opposed to, and 36 per cent of students felt the same way.
‘We do think, though, that it has a place to do things like quality assurance of human marking and spotting errors. But it cannot and will not replace humans, and Ofqual will make sure of that.’
AQA claims AI could be used by:
- a chatbot could follow a teacher’s instructions to create a lesson or quiz, including with audio, video and text
- assisting students with their own research, helping them learn how to use AI effectively
- giving students automated feedback, or providing the first draft of a more detailed report which a teacher could then build on and edit
- supporting awarding organisations to create digital assessments.
Alex Scharaschkin, AQA’s director of assessment research and innovation, said: ‘AI has exciting potential to transform education and help teachers focus on what matters to them: teaching students in the classroom.
‘If AI can reduce workload by helping with lesson planning and marking, then the brightest people will be more likely to become teachers and stay in the job.
‘We need to remember however that AI tools are a bit like actors in Casualty: they can learn to use the language of doctors and sound like they have medical expertise, but they cannot perform an operation. They will always need close human supervision.
‘AI is already a part of our lives and we must now consider if AI literacy will become a must-have skill, like literacy and numeracy, that will help young people find jobs, navigate everyday life and reach their full potential.’
Exam boards are struggling more and more with the emergence of AI and with students using it in their work.
A shocking two-thirds of secondary school pupils use artificial intelligence to do their homework and one in 10 teachers admit they have no way of knowing, a survey commissioned by RM Technology claims.
Almost half, 42 per cent, of the 1,000 secondary school students surveyed said they use AI all the time to solve maths problems, while 41 per cent use it to write English essays.
By Daily Mail Online, November 26, 2023