Delivering Blended Learning to Trace Evidence Examiners
Charles A. Zona and Richard E. Bisbing
Forensics Magazine- February 10, 2012
The Criminal Justice and Forensic Science Reform Act of 2011 introduced by Senator Patrick Leahy “requires all relevant personnel who perform forensic work for any laboratory or agency that gets Federal money to become certified in their fields, which will mean meeting basic proficiency, education, and training requirements.” According to the National Academy of Science’s 2009 report that spurred Leahy’s legislation, this training should not only occur within an academic environment, but also in settings similar to those encountered in practice.
We agree, and have found that using a “blended learning” approach, one that augments classroom training with distance learning from the student’s lab, seems to work well for our students. From our decades of training trace evidence examiners in microscopy and trace evidence, we have learned that a week-long, classroom-based course is never sufficient to provide either an understanding or adequate practice of the requisite knowledge, skills, and abilities.
Student feedback regarding the blended learning model at Hooke College of Applied Sciences has been overwhelmingly positive. They commented that the post-course activities helped to reinforce the concepts and practices learned during the course. Students are incorporating course information into their day-to-day work and standard operating procedures. Inspired by this feedback, we wanted to share our experiences thus far with the blended model so others in the trace evidence community may benefit.