This page includes a definition of academic integrity, an overview of our approach and provides access to academic learning modules.
What is academic integrity?
Academic integrity is defined as: ‘a commitment, even in the face of adversity, to six fundamental values: honesty, trust, fairness, respect, responsibility, and courage. From these values flow principles of behaviour that enable academic communities to translate ideals to action’ (International Centre for Academic Integrity).
‘Academic integrity is the ethical basis upon which academic work is produced. It comprises important values that shape the work of the University in teaching, research and engagement’ (VU Academic Integrity Policy).
"A moral code of academia involving the use, production and dissemination of information in a respectful and responsible way"
TEQSA Guidance Note: Academic Integrity
Victoria University (VU) has a holistic approach to academic integrity. This includes:
- clear policies and procedures regarding academic integrity
- education and support for staff and students
- effective and informed learning design
- text-matching software
- a university-wide culture that values integrity.
The Block Model at VU has inherent advantages when it comes to academic integrity. With small class sizes, it provides a personalised and supportive environment which encourages student engagement and allows staff to develop an understanding of their students’ capabilities. The focus is on well-scaffolded, authentic assessment relevant to students, and each unit has an early, low-stakes assessment built in. These are all significant recommendations to prevent misconduct (TEQSA Integrity Toolkit).
The myth of exams
Research suggests that exams - especially those with multi-choice and single answer questions - are vulnerable to contract cheating, whether administered online or face-to-face.
Where practicable, learning design at VU has fostered the replacement of exams with assessment types identified by students as less likely to be compromised: in-class assessment, personalised and unique tasks, vivas and reflections on placement (Harper, Bretag & Rundle, 2020).
Progressive assessment is also incorporated into the design. For example, an assessment may consist of a written component to an open-ended (unique) question, followed by a face-to-face component (presentation or viva).
Strategic assessment design
VU takes a whole-of-unit approach to allow for effective assessment design. A balance between authenticity, security and resource use is found that best suits the needs of students and accreditation.
We look at the assessment schedule as a whole to ensure that a variety of assessment tasks are offered within reasonable timeframes. We recognise that it may be valuable to run a resource-intensive assessment (e.g. a viva-voce) as a final assessment, or to test crucial professional skills.
‘Securing every act of assessment is infeasible, and would likely lead to poor learning experiences for students’
Deakin University (Ensuring academic integrity and assessment security with redesigned online delivery)
Support for staff & students
Academic Integrity Modules
VU has contributed to the development of online learning modules on academic integrity for staff. The Academic Integrity Modules are relevant for all academic and professional staff involved in creating, teaching and administering students in their learning journey at Victoria University.
The modules are available in VU Collaborate (requires staff login) and include:
- What is academic integrity?
- Promoting a culture of academic integrity
- Identifying and responding to breaches of academic integrity
- Teaching, learning and assessment: implications for academic integrity
- Assessment design choices for academic integrity.
For students (Learning Hub)
VU has contributed to the development of online learning modules on academic integrity for students. Five modules make up a suite of learning competencies that address specifics of plagiarism and contract cheating. They also address integrity in a broad sense. See Learning Hub modules ‘Academic Integrity & Referencing’.
- Module 1: What is academic integrity?
- Module 2: Academic integrity in my preparation
- Module 3: Academic integrity in my work
- Module 4: Building confidence in Academic Integrity
- Module 5: Academic integrity in complex situations.
Policies related to academic integrity
International Centre for Academic Integrity 2020, Fundamental Values, ICAI, https://www.academicintegrity.org/fundamental-values.
Bearman, M, Dawson, P, O’Donnell, M, Tai, J & Jorre de St Jorre, T 2020, Ensuring academic integrity and assessment security with redesigned online delivery. Deakin University, Melbourne.
Bretag, T, Harper, R, Burton, M, Ellis, C, Newton, P, van Haeringen, K, Saddiqui, S & Rozenberg P 2019, ‘Contract cheating and assessment design: exploring the relationship’, Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, vol. 44, no. 5, pp. 676-691.,p>
Contract Cheating and Assessment Design, n.d., Contract Cheating and Assessment Design, viewed 18 September 2020,https://cheatingandassessment.edu.au/.
Department of Education and Training 2019 Contract cheating and assessment design: exploring the connection Final report 2019, Department of Education and Training, Canberra, viewed 18 September 2020. https://ltr.edu.au/resources/SP16-5383_BretagandHarper_FinalReport_2019.pdf.
Ellis C, van Haeringen K, Harper R, Bretag T, Zucker I, McBride S, Rozenberg P, Newton P & Saddiqui S 2020, ‘Does authentic assessment assure academic integrity? Evidence from contract cheating data’, Higher Education Research & Development, vol. 39, no. 3, pp. 454-469.
Harper, R, Bretag, T & Rundle, K (2020) ‘Detecting contract cheating: examining the role of assessment type’, Higher Education Research & Development, pp. 1-16.
Online delivery – key considerations for providers, Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency,2020, viewed 18 September 2020,https://www.teqsa.gov.au/latest-news/publications/online-delivery-key-co...
Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency 2019, Guidance Note: Academic Integrity, version 1.2, Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency, Australian Government, 2017, viewed 10 October 2020, https://www.teqsa.gov.au/latest-news/publications/guidance-note-academic....
Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency, Academic Integrity Toolkit, Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency, Australian Government, 2017, viewed 18 October 2020, https://www.teqsa.gov.au/toolkit.
Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency, Good Practice Note: Addressing contract cheating to safeguard academic integrity, Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency, Australian Government, 2017, viewed 18 September 2020, https://cheatingandassessment.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/EDUCATOR....
Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency, Three factors contribute to contract cheating, Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency, Australian Government, 2017, viewed 20 October 2020,https://cheatingandassessment.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/SECTOR-R... .