1. Can training time be reduced without compromising performance?
  2. What is the best way to provide feedback to examiners about their performance?
  3. Do examiners know when to ask for help?
  4. How much should examiners rely on instructions from a textbook compared to practical experience?

In The Forensic Reasoning Project, we will contrast the role of textbook knowledge with practical experience. We will train novices on different types of information to compare ‘book learning’ with direct experience with forensic evidence to see how they contribute to optimal performance.

This research will allow police, intelligence systems and investigators to interpret evidence more effectively and efficiently, and assist forensic examiners in the development of evidence-based training programs.

Throughout the project, we aim to test trainees on several different measures: accuracy, reliability, memory, general pattern recognition, mental rotation, discriminating curvature, detecting patterns in noise, speeded response, attention and distraction, detecting change and motion, short and long term memory, and so on. We can then track the development of these capabilities over time and use this information to determine precisely what changes as novices become experts and how quickly these capabilities develop. These findings will help us determine the factors that best predict expertise and potentially reduce the amount of time that it takes to turn novices into experts.

External feedback is also essential for maintaining competence. Our goal in The Forensic Reasoning Project is to determine best practice for seeking external feedback and how best to deliver external assessments that change behaviour. This knowledge will be used to inform new training and assessment procedures for forensic examiners.