This course is ON-DEMAND and can be taken at your own pace. The course is 10 modules, with each module lasting 2 full hours.
*Click the SCHEDULE below to view the full course syllabus*
All forensic examinations depend on human expertise to produce valid and reliable results. Forensic scientists—like any other experts—are vulnerable to a wide range of human factors that may influence the value of their work. Many critics have challenged the scientific legitimacy of forensic practices, saying that the vulnerability of forensic experts to errors undermines the value of any results they report. Since the 2009 report of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers and other observers have increasingly called for policy and practice reforms that reflect the lessons of cognitive psychology, including mitigation strategies related to confirmation bias. In particular, defense attorneys expect forensic scientists to understand bias and other cognitive issues and be able to address the ways that they mitigate the potential for errors in their operations. Forensic science professionals have very limited access to resources that help them navigate these issues.
This course will provide students with a comprehensive introduction to the application of cognitive psychology to the improvement of forensic science policy and practice. The course will cover the basics of cognitive psychology, its relevance to forensic science, relevant research, and consensus guidance documents. Topics will include: Basic Principles of Cognitive Psychology; Expertise and Cognition; Communication; People and Organizations; Forensic Science Improvement; and Resiliency and Secondary Trauma. The course will emphasize critical thinking and root-cause-analysis in the examination of current practices, case errors, research, and policy recommendations. The course will emphasize positive steps that can be taken to incorporate cognitive psychology research into practice.
Students will attain a practical understanding of cognitive psychology as it relates to forensic science, a thorough understanding of relevant research and policy guidance, and a foundation for application in their work and the work of their organization. Issues will be covered primarily from the point of view of the United States, but international perspectives will also be represented. Students will be expected to have a working knowledge of forensic science, but no prior education or training in cognitive psychology is required. This is a 20-hour program. Sessions will include approximately 120 minutes of instructional material, real-world examples, interactive exercises.
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