Teaching Innovation Awards Winner

University of Wolverhampton

Forensic Science
Ms. Rebecca Flanagan, Mr. Richard Tann, Ms. Emily Coyte, Mr. Pete Norton, Ms. Hannah Golightly, Mr. Siomon Jacklin


Forensic Science is an applied science and CSI a practical experience. It is essential that CSI theory taught in the Forensic Science BSc is practically applied to enhance learning, understanding and practical experience. The CSI theory/practical modules have approximately 70 students with five rooms/scenes in the scene house and one CSI practitioner/lecturer. The objective was to develop a resource for maximising CSI learning with limitations on practical scene house teaching and experience. The answer was to develop new transformative, digital LearnSci Smart Worksheets with forensic science simulation activities and an innovative, interactive CSI element that fulfilled learning outcomes of critical thinking and comprehensive, logical scene examination.

Professional practice knowledge and experience were utilised to create an incident scenario that would enable fulfilment of the learning outcomes. The vision for digital forensic science and CSI activities was developed, including important crime scene management elements as well as forensic assessment, sequential evidence recovery and priority evidence identification. The student experience was always at the heart of the creative process, achieved through realistic scenarios and accurate crime scene practices.

Screenshot of the resource showing a crime scene and interactive elements the students can use.
Figure 1: A section of the Forensic Science: Incident Scene - Assessment and Examination resource

Scene management elements were based on existing Smart Worksheets and lab/scene simulation activities, followed by summary questions to check learning and knowledge. However, incident scene assessment and examination elements were subject to a forensic science twist with development of new, innovative 360 degree interactive crime scenes. Collaborative working with continuous program design and development, consultation and feedback, produced an effective product with a balance of realistic crime scenes whilst ensuring student engagement with activities. The exciting end product was two interactive LearnSci Smart Worksheets that can be used as remote digital learning resources to supplement teaching, as well as a formative or summative assessments. The Smart Worksheets were then accessible as a trial Formative Assessment for students. The final summary question encourages critical thinking by the students regarding their processes and progress for the ultimate objective of contributing to the criminal justice system through the provision of quality, impartial evidence.

The impact on student learning and engagement was evident:

  • Overall average rating of 9.1 out of 10
  • 100% Agree or Strongly Agree that the resources are intuitive with engaging interactive components
  • 90% Agree or Strongly Agree that it was clear what they needed to do in each section
  • 100% Agree or Strongly Agree that resources improved confidence of working in forensic scenes and that the skills and knowledge they developed will be useful to them in the future

This innovative LearnSci resource could be used nationally/internationally on Forensic Science undergraduate courses to enhance teaching and learning, as well as being introduced in wider science education. This resource will enhance student skills, knowledge and experience in areas of critical thinking and effective strategy development, essential employability skill sets for Forensic Scientist or CSI practitioners.

The future scope for this LearnSci resource includes further collaboration and development of additional forensic element activities, such as fingerprint and DNA recovery, or even forensic science specialisms, such as entomology and anthropology. Incident scenarios could be expanded with different scene types or increased complexity. The future development of the LearnSci Forensic Science program, together with Becky Flanagan of the WLV Forensic Science team, hopes to continue to share forensic science knowledge with future generations.