The potential of digital technologies in problem-based forensic learning activities


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The potential of digital technologies in problem-based forensic learning activities
Science & Justice
Kummer Natalie, Delémont Olivier, Voisard Romain, Weyermann Céline
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Forensic practice is the concluding practical course of the forensic science bachelor program at the School of Criminal Justice of the University of Lausanne. Learning activities are constructed around five main objectives for the resolution of simulated forensic case problems: 1) select relevant traces and items to be collected at the scene and perceive their potential value in the reconstruction process, 2) apply appropriate detection techniques in sequence to obtain clues of good quality, 3) process traces using Analysis, Comparison, Evaluation and Verification (ACE-V) methodology, 4) produce and summarise information in oral and written forms to help an investigation, and 5) work collaboratively to benefit from the diversity of group members. Simulating and supervising realistic activities is a complex task that became more and more challenging with a continuously increasing number of students over the years (from ca. 30 in 2016 to more than 60 in 2021). Thus, an educational innovation project was launched and aimed at implementing digital technologies to support the teaching staff. A computer-based crime scene simulation tool (allowing students to visualize 360° crime scenes and relevant items) and a communication tool (to simplify and centralise the communication between the students and the teaching staff) were implemented. This article describes the implementation, added value and limitations of these digital technologies in problem-based learning activities. Prior to 2020, the practical course forensic practice was delivered entirely on-site without specific technologies, and entirely on-line in 2020 (due to the sanitary restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic). Finally, in 2021, on-line and on-site activities were implemented with success, combining the best of both approaches in a blended teaching mode. An overall increase in the satisfaction of students and teaching staff was observed with the implementation of these tools. Limiting presence on-site allowed students to take a step back from the activities and collected items. This promoted critical thinking, and together with an increase in structured (on-line and on-site) interactions allowed for a positive, continuous learning experience. While the evaluations of these novel technologies were very positive, students still expressed their willingness to perform certain tasks on-site and a preference for face-to-face interactions.
Forensic science, Education, Practice, Training, Collaborative learning, Crime scene investigation, Forensic laboratory, Case simulation
Open Access
University of Lausanne
Create date
03/05/2022 11:01
Last modification date
20/07/2022 7:12
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