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Forensic Science 401

FOSC 401: Forensic Science Research

Prerequisite: FOSC 201 and permission of the instructor

Credit Hours: (3)

This course provides an overview of current research in the Forensic Sciences.  Through seminar discussions of current literature, cutting-edge developments in Forensic Anthropology, Biology, and Chemistry, as well as Digital Forensics are investigated.  Students will learn, through reading the primary literature, to critically evaluate research in the discipline and receive the background and training necessary to conduct their own original research in Forensic Science.  Students are required to design and conduct their own directed research project in the field of Forensic Science of their choice.  This course serves as the capstone experience for students with the Interdisciplinary Minor in Forensic Science.

Detailed Description of Content of Course

Major topics covered in this course include:

• Reading, understanding, discussing, and critically interpreting the primary research literature in the Forensic Sciences;
• Understanding the major theoretical underpinnings behind disciplines (e.g., Forensic Biology, Chemistry, Anthropology, Archaeology, ITEC) in the Forensic Sciences and their role in selection of methodological approaches to the collection and evaluation of forensic evidence;
• Differentiating between qualitative and quantitative methodologies in the Forensic Sciences, and the advantages and disadvantages of each;
• The role of theory and method in the design and implementation of research in Forensic Science;
• The creation and implementation of a research design in some aspect of Forensic Science;
• Conducting students’ own original directed research project in a field in the Forensic Sciences, culminating in public presentation (e.g., oral presentation, publication) of this research.


Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

This is a Senior Seminar in Forensic Science and, as such, consists of roundtable discussions of primary literature in the Forensic Sciences. Thus, much of the conduct of this course depends upon student input, with students themselves accepting a great deal of responsibility for the conduct of the course. Forensic case studies and original Forensic Science research will be highlighted.  In addition, students will independently create and implement a research design for a directed Forensic Science study, in consultation with Forensic Science faculty. This will serve as their final senior capstone research project in the minor.


Goals and Objectives of the Course

At the conclusion of this course, students will be able to:

1. Read, discuss, and critically evaluate and interpret the primary literature in the Forensic Sciences, including research designs, methodology, and presentation of scientific results;
2. Demonstrate an understanding of the major theoretical underpinnings behind disciplines (e.g., Forensic Biology, Chemistry, Anthropology, Archaeology, ITEC) in the Forensic Sciences and their role in selection of methodological approaches to the collection and evaluation of forensic evidence;
3. Differentiate between qualitative and quantitative methodologies in the Forensic Sciences, and the advantages and disadvantages of each;
4. Demonstrate an understanding of the role of theory and method in the design and implementation of research in Forensic Science;
5. Create and implement a research design on some aspect of Forensic Science, culminating in a Senior capstone research project for the FS Minor;
6.    Present the results of this directed original research in a public (e.g., oral presentation, publication) forum.


Assessment Measures  
   
Students will be assessed through weekly writing assignments on readings of primary literature.  In addition, a large portion of their grade will revolve around development, implementation and presentation of their Senior Capstone research project in Forensic Science.


Other Course Information

Readings will be derived from the major journals in Forensic Science (e.g., Journal of Forensic Science) as well as selections from designated recent texts in the discipline—see bibliographic listing from which these readings may be selected in the library section of this proposal (4d).  Use will also be made of field and laboratory supplies and equipment already held within CSAT and RUFSI.


Review and Approval

04/2011