Tying together a multiple-discipline, team-taught forensic science course

Author(s): 

Michael B Wells, John Bartlett, Timothy Metz, Cynthia Starita

Author Affiliation: 

Campbell University

Event: 

Year: 

2010

Abstract: 

Drawing on ideas and experiences from the CWCS workshops in Forensics Science, a multiple-discipline, team-taught forensic science course with a single crime scenario was developed. The course is divided into four modules: Criminal Justice, Chemical Evidence, Forensic Biology, and Forensic Entomology. The course is taught by members of the Criminal Justice, Chemistry, and Biology Departments. The modules are now stitched together with a single unifying crime scenario. Evidence collected in the first module is passed along through the remaining modules for analysis. Over the semester a crime scenario emerges. Originally the modules were independent units. After several iterations of the course, student feedback revealed that the course seemed disjointed. Major topics explored include: crime scene analysis, evidence collection and analysis, and legal issues surrounding forensic science. The university provides a 1600 square foot house to stage crime scenes. Detailed crime scene drawings are made. Spectroscopy and chromatography are used to analyze trace evidence. Microscopy and DNA fingerprinting are used to establish identity. At the last of three crime scenes, a pig carcass (corpse) is used in the entomology unit to determine time of death. Ballistic fingerprinting is used to link the prime suspect's handgun (found at the second crime scene) with bullet evidence planted inside the victim's 'corpse'.