Evaluation of a Relay-Style Format for Experiments in an Undergraduate Trace Evidence Laboratory Course
Keywords:cooperative learning, forensic science education, trace evidence, laboratory course, peer review
Trace evidence analysis courses should prepare students with both appropriate laboratory techniques and the collaborative skills which may be beneficial to their future careers. A traditional or non-relay laboratory format that includes comparison of unknown evidence from a crime scene to known samples from suspects adequately addresses laboratory techniques. However, this approach does not foster peer collaboration or expose students to the use of known libraries. A comparison of the non-relay format with a relay format was undertaken. The relay format is a unique approach for collaborative learning in which groups of students acquire data to construct a library of knowns for use by other students in their case file analysis. Comparison of the methods was achieved using observations from instructors acting as participant-observers and through student reflection questionnaires. The results indicate that passing information from one group of students to the next and the inclusion of case file peer reviews required a shift in student thinking from an individualistic mindset to a collaborative one as students understood that their peers would utilize their results. The library development and case file peer review exposed students to more variety in the presentation of analysis results and forced reflection on the clarity each provided. The relay format also yielded a more relaxed pace through the analyses to encourage deeper analysis of student results and conclusions.
Copyright (c) 2021 Cynthia J. Kaeser Tran, Mary F. Lamar, Jessica N. Carlotti, Erika Gil Winter
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