In a recent visual arts workshop, we had a lot of discussions about academic honesty and how to detect plagiarism, and one of the teachers described this encounter:

One of his students returned to school after the summer break with an absolutely outstanding artwork – big, colourful, complex, clever and thought-provoking.

…and completely unlike (and better than) anything the student created in the entire first year.

Academic honesty alarm bells started ringing loudly for our teacher. He asked the student to show the preparatory work, e.g. preliminary sketches, notes, research, drawings, gently suggesting that the new wonderful work did not really fit in with anything previously seen.

The student produced the visual arts journal. There were three pages that contained some loose drawings and a few comments – both drawings and comments related to the new artwork, but not convincingly. It looked like they had been added after, rather than before, the artwork.

The teacher was still suspicious and talked to the DP Coordinator, and then the High School Principal.

Nobody believed that the student made the artwork, and the decision was made to invite the parents in for a discussion about the problem artwork.

When the student was told of this plan of action, he finally admitted that he’d actually bought the artwork online.

The student received some punishment for attempted plagiarism and attempting to deceive the teacher, but was still allowed to upload some now heavily scrutinised and authentic files for the visual arts final upload.

Of course, this story is not unique. Given the availability of striking images on the Internet and the options for acquiring and/or commissioning art – rather than planning and making it – it comes as no surprise that some students are tempted to cheat.

Visual Arts Coursework Authentication (VACAF)

In an attempt to check and assist the authentication of student work, art teachers are now required to complete and submit a coursework authentication form (6/VACAF) for every visual arts candidate.

The mandatory completion of this form for every candidate is intended to strengthen the quality of their coursework and to assist in confirming the authenticity of each phase of their work.

(In previous exam sessions, the visual arts coursework authentication form was only uploaded for candidates who were a part of the internal assessment sample).

Your role in the authentication process

Your art teacher will write an account of your work on the VACAF – not you – but you are responsible for discussing and explaining where your ideas and/or artworks and images come from in three ‘interactions’: Inquiry (outline scope), Action (work in development) and Reflection (nearing completion).

The focus of the interactions is on Exhibition and Comparative Study coursework. Good luck!