Solving the "Crime": Increasing Student Engagement

Submitted by James Cerven on
What is the Purpose of the Assessment?

The following Program Learning Outcomes from the Associate in Applied Science, Administration of Justice Studies Degree, 3181 were assessed in this course:

PLO#2.  Solve problems through logical and sound reasoning  PLO #3. Communicate orally, visually and in writing precisely, appropriately, and effectively to varied audiences.                                                                                                                              

The mock crime scenario exercise is always one of the most engaging activities during the AJS 275, Criminal Investigation, class.  Students were broken into teams of “detectives” and viewed two separate “crime scenes”.  Students were informed that there were no eyewitnesses to the crime nor working cameras. They observed various pieces of physical and biological "evidence" in the "crime scene" and worked within their respective teams to come to an initial conclusion as to what occurred. Students engaged in communication and critical thinking throughout this exercise.  During the very next class meeting students came together with their teams, discussed their findings, and compared information with the class. This resulted in high levels of engagement.

Problem: Once this scenario was completed I moved on to teaching the subsequent lessons in the course. The level of student engagement and enthusiasm amongst the students was never as high as during the crime scene scenario. The purpose of this assessment was to find a way to maintain that level of student engagement and interest throughout the remainder of the lessons. 

Describe the necessity for this assessment

I wanted to maintain the high level of student engagement created by the mock crime scene. My question was how could I keep this interest and enthusiasm flowing throughout the remaining lessons in the course? 

Describe how the practice will be implemented

Three semesters ago I expanded the crime scene scenario to continue throughout the remaining lessons in the course.  The students were supplied with the "lab" results of the “forensic” information "collected" from the "crime scene".  Students had to analyze this evidence and develop the next logical steps in the investigation to identify the “suspects”.  Each team of "detectives" engaged in a mock interrogation of a suspect and subsequently wrote a search warrant for the purpose of obtaining the "murder weapon". The lessons on questioning, search and seizure, and identification were integrated into the original scenario.   

Interpret, compare, and describe the results

The high level of student interest created by the mock crime scene continued as the additional lessons were incorporated. Students invested a great deal of energy and effort into these subsequent classes with the goal of "solving the crime".

After analyzing, and reflecting on the outcome, what are the next steps?

Continue to integrate the mock crime scene scenario into several lessons within the course for the purpose of increasing student engagement, interest, and learning. 

Completed Full Cycle
Course Number
AJS 275 Criminal Investigation
Program Learning Outcomes/Course Level Outcomes
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