Using eye-tracking, head-mounted camera technology and verbal protocol analysis as a methodology to better understand Volume Crime Scene Investigator practice

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    Literature Review: Expertise, decision making and situation awareness literature have allowed a better understanding of practitioner performance in Engineering, Healthcare and Sport. Discourse is thin in the domain of Crime Scene Examination, although Hierarchical Tasks Analysis, Distributed Cognition, Team Working and Perception have all received attention in recent years. The use of camera technology to uncover performance has also found footing in diverse professions, notably Firefighting and Social Work. Crime Scene Investigator practice is proposed as being a fertile area of study, to make apparent aspects of the work that are tacit, as well as to ascertain if performance metrics in the sector connect with the tacit knowledge expressed in the role.Methodology: This study explored the differences in searching strategies between expert and novice Crime Scene Examiners (n=12) in a simulated environment, before discussing a longitudinal ethnographic examination of how Volume Crime Scene Investigators (n=4) make sense of their practice. Eye-tracker and head-mounted camera technology was used to capture performance from an own point of view perceptive. Nvivo 9 was utilised to collate and code video data, field notes and interview transcriptions.Results & Discussion: Results from verbal protocol analysis and eye-tracker recordings indicate that expert examiners target fewer objects within the crime scene space however spend longer on the objects being viewed. Field study results report that Volume Crime Scene Investigators engage in sharing tacit knowledge, this impacted on their strategies or perception of obtaining forensic evidence. In addition the analysis of coded data from video and verbal protocol reports found that specific physical aspects of examination practice such as fingerprint powdering were aligned to decision making or analysis processes. For example, commenting on the morphology of the surface being examined. Furthermore examiners engaged in and highlighted aspects of their role they felt were important but were not captured in any metrics.Conclusion: It is proposed this new understanding will be of use to those in developing crime scene investigation practitioners as well as presenting related literature on how expertise in the domain can be recognised, elicited and developed in others. This work also sheds light on the value of sector standards for this field along with what is needed to make them more user- friendly for the developing practitioner.
    Date of Award1 Apr 2014
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Teesside University
    SupervisorTim Thompson (Supervisor)

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