Introduction to the Assignment
Assignment description is based on course materials (September 2021) and is used with permission from Prof. Knaap and from Head TA Dr. Scott.
Television shows like CSI, Bones, NCIS, and Law and Order bring forensic science and crime scene investigation to the general public. This assignment allows students to explore and understand the ‘CSI Effect’, and how media portrayals of forensic science may influence public perception of forensic science, legal proceedings, and criminal activity.
This assignment is worth 20%, consisting of three parts (each due via Quercus). Please see below for description.
At approximately 6:20 a.m. on Saturday morning, police responded to a break-and-enter call at this residential address. The call was made by a Ms. Jane Smith, the homeowner, who returned home after a night on the town to find her front door open. Upon arrival, it was noted that the front door was open, a window had been forced open, and the bedroom and bathroom had been ransacked. Ms. Smith lived alone but advised police that she had had a friend over before they left for the evening on Friday night, that she was intoxicated when leaving the house, and that she had spent the night at a friends'. Primary responding
officers have identified blood spatter in the kitchen, and trace amounts of a suspicious substance in the bathroom. They also noted a muddy footprint on the floor and found a footprint in the flower bed below the window. Fingerprints were found on the window.
PART 1 (2.5%)
Students will be responsible for reviewing case details and associated crime scene photos, which will be posted on Quercus. Students must use their prior knowledge of forensic science to provide a list of AT LEAST TWO of the forensic methods that they believe should/could be used in the investigation of this crime scene. Students should also
describe what information these methods could provide investigator. Answers should be 1-2 sentences each, maximum.
Students will not be graded on the accuracy of their answers (with relation to what techniques were used during the investigation of this scene and the information these methods could provide), but rather, on their ability to think critically about forensic methodologies and the practical application of such, based on their current knowledge, and their ability to concisely explain their reasoning.
PART 2 (2.5%)
Students will be responsible for watching the ‘CSI: University of Toronto Mississauga’ episode that has been linked on Quercus. Students must list five “mistakes” that they notice in the media portrayal of forensic science in this video, or, in other words, instances in the video in which they notice a discrepancy between what is portrayed in the video and what should/would occur in a realistic crime scene scenario.
PART 3 (15%)
Students must read the following journal articles:
Durnal EW. Crime scene investigation (as seen on TV). Forensic Sci Int 2010; 199: 1-5.
Ribeiro G, Tangen JM, McKimmie BM. Beliefs about error rates and human judgement in forensic science. Forensic Sci Int 2019; 297: 138-147.
After reading the above articles, students should re-watch the ‘CSI: University of Toronto Mississauga’ episode posted on Quercus, and write a paper that accounts for each of the following:
To complete Part 3 this assignment, students will need to research and consult other scholarly/peer-reviewed sources. A minimum of THREE additional scholarly materials must be utilized. See the Journal Articles page of this guide for help finding articles.
All references must follow the referencing guidelines from the Journal of Forensic Sciences:
Each assignment must include a title page. This title page will not be part of the page count. The title page must convey the following information:
This assignment should be formatted as: Times New Roman font, size 12, 1.5 spacing, 1’ (2.54 cm) margins, page numbers on bottom right-hand corner (except on the title page). The assignment must follow the word counts outlined in Part 3, plus one additional page for ‘References Cited’. Pages beyond this count will not be graded; the ability to be concise and to the point is important in forensic documentation, and through this assignment, students will be provided the opportunity to practice writing in a succinct yet comprehensive manner.
THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN COMPLETING THIS ASSIGNMENT:
** Note that Quercus will automatically upload this paper to Turnitin.com (further instructions on utilizing Quercus and Turnitin.com will be provided via Quercus).
FSC100H5 Applied Methods of Crime Scene Investigation: The Real CSI
‘CSI Effect’ Essay: Rubric
CONTENT (17 MARKS)
Student has critically reviewed the literature and demonstrates understanding of the “CSI Effect” ______ Student demonstrates familiarity with current arguments re: the “CSI Effect” ______
Discussion of relevance of the CSI Effect to the courtroom and legal system ______
Discussion of relevance of the CSI Effect to criminals/criminal activity ______
Student correctly identifies 3 instances of the “CSI Effect” in the posted video (1 mark each) ______
For each instance noted, student:
Notes now the instance differs from realistic forensic science practices
(1 mark each, total of 3 marks) ______
Notes how each promotes the “CSI Effect” and impacts one of:
public perception, the courtroom and legal system, criminals/criminal activity
(1 mark each, total of 3 marks) ______
Student outlines how their own perception of forensic science has changed, linking
their answer to Part 1 of this assignment ______
Student uses specific examples when providing opinion ______
Student is able to justify this opinion in a coherent manner, supported by literature ______
STYLE (8 MARKS)
Proper formatting followed
(i.e. Times New Roman, 12 pt, 1.5 spacing, 2.54 cm margins, appropriate page numbers) _______
Title page included, and formatted properly (see: Assignment outline) _______
References cited page included, formatted according to the Journal of Forensic Sciences _______
Minimum of 3 additional peer-reviewed/scholarly references _______
In-text references are formatted according to the Journal of Forensic Sciences _______
Paper is organized into coherent paragraphs, including an introduction and conclusion _______
Student avoids run-on sentences, incomplete sentences, and too-long paragraphs _______ Student has proofread/spell-checked their work (i.e. no spelling or grammatical errors) _______
Total _____ /25