How to Prevent Cheating in the Science Classroom in the Time of AI

Ginelle Testa

In the era of artificial intelligence, science educators face a pressing challenge: preventing cheating in the science classroom as students gain access to powerful AI tools. Are you concerned about the potential misuse of AI, such as ChatGPT, among your students? Discover effective strategies to safeguard academic integrity in the face of this technological revolution.

As a science educator, the possibility of students cheating with AI/ChatGPT may make you anxious. You’re not alone. We asked instructors in our Community Campus, a place for science educators, how they prevent cheating in their classrooms during the time of AI. 

Their answers ranged from utilizing a tool like Turnitin to check for AI use to embracing it to some degree in the classroom. Here’s the roundup:

  • Utilize technology with AI detection capabilities
  • Use applied-learning
  • Have in-person tests and activities
  • Embrace AI to some degree
  • Use personalized assessment
  • Encourage collaboration with other students
  • Ask for written reflections

7 Ways to prevent cheating with AI

1. Utilize technology with AI detection capabilities

One effective method to combat AI-enabled cheating is to leverage technological tools that are specifically designed to detect plagiarism and the use of AI. Platforms like Turnitin provide comprehensive plagiarism detection services, including the identification of content generated with AI assistance.

Chris Drew, a university professor with a Ph.D. in Education, shared in an email, “I have started using AI detector software to check all submitted pieces from my students. It is added to my workflow in the same way that I use plagiarism checker tools, and I think checking for AI content using online tools will become the norm at universities from here on out.”

2. Use applied-learning

Incorporating applied-learning techniques into science education can minimize the incentive to cheat with AI. Practical experiments, hands-on activities, virtual labs, and real-world applications of scientific concepts engage students actively, making it more difficult for them to rely solely on AI-generated answers. Encouraging students to develop problem-solving skills and critical thinking through practical applications fosters a deeper understanding of the subject matter.

A community college instructor shared, “In my classes, I encourage the use of technology, but then have the students show by applying the material they have posted.”

Labster’s virtual labs can be used as a form of applied learning as students work through contextualized storylines to understand difficult scientific concepts. 

3. Ask for written reflections

Assigning regular written reflections can be an effective way to assess students' understanding of the subject matter. By requesting personal reflections and analysis of scientific concepts, educators can gain insights into students' comprehension and detect any inconsistencies that may indicate cheating. This method encourages critical thinking and encourages students to develop their own unique perspectives.

There may be a downside to this, though. A physics professor did a study on AI and found, “We argue that these results indicate that current AI MLPs represent a significant threat to the fidelity of short-form essays as an assessment method in Physics courses.”

4. Embrace AI to some degree

Rather than solely viewing AI as a threat, some educators choose to embrace it as a valuable tool for learning. By incorporating AI in the classroom, instructors can harness its potential to enhance student engagement and facilitate deeper understanding. 

One university instructor shared this in our Community Campus:

“I would even set aside some lecture/lab time at the beginning of the semester to engage directly with the students & ChatGPT to address how it can be a place to start (like Wikipedia), but students should not to rely solely on a ChatGPT answer.” 

There was also an interesting article on NPR about an instructor who embraced ChatGPT in his classroom, “He readily admits he alternates between enthusiasm and anxiety about how artificial intelligence can change assessments in the classroom, but he believes educators need to move with the times.”

5. Use personalized assessment

Most innovative learning tools allow instructors to customize quizzes for their students. This is a great opportunity to use unique, original questions that can't be easily fed into an AI tool or search engine for a quick answer. Some tools can even provide adaptive learning, which adjusts to individual learners’ needs. 

We're excited to share that at Labster, we're rolling out personalized learning in the form of editable quiz questions in our virtual labs! This allows educators to customize simulations according to their learning objectives and it makes it harder for students to cheat as they can not look up answers to custom questions.

Check out the video:

6. Encourage collaboration with other students

Promoting collaborative learning environments is an effective approach to deter cheating. Encouraging students to work together, engage in group discussions, and solve problems collectively fosters a sense of shared responsibility for academic integrity. Collaboration enables students to learn from one another and build communication skills. 

Mums In Science Founder and CEO shared in an email that “Debate, group work, and hands-on activities reduce cheating.”

7. Have in-person tests and activities

If possible, organizing in-person tests and activities can serve as a deterrent to AI-enabled cheating. In-person assessments allow instructors to directly observe students and monitor their work, making it harder for them to rely on AI for unauthorized assistance. 


As educators navigate this evolving landscape, the key lies in striking a balance between leveraging AI's capabilities and engaging students’ curiosity, participation, and focus. By doing so, they not only prepare them for the technological future but also nurture their academic integrity, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills, quintessential for success in STEM. 

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