12/6/2011 12:00 AM
COLLEGE STATION - Christine Ramirez, Coordinator of the Texas Forensic Science Academy, has published a new book with co-author Casie L. Parish-Fisher, Assistant Professor and Senior Forensic Scientist at St. Edwards University in Austin, and also an adjunct instructor with the Texas Engineering Extension Service (TEEX). Their workbook, "Crime Scene Processing and Investigation," was designed to complement Ross Gardner’s "Practical Crime Scene Processing and Investigation" textbook, which is required reading for all three crime scene certification levels through the International Association for Identification (IAI).
More and more technicians and analysts working in the forensic science field are coming from an academic setting rather than up through the ranks of a law enforcement agency, so they may not have experience in the field, Ramirez said. When the Gardner textbook became required reading for professional certification, Parish-Fisher felt that her students needed additional exposure to the situations and scenarios discussed in the book. She approached Ramirez, who also has an extensive background in crime scene analysis and investigation, for help in building a series of exercises and practical experiments to go along with the text. And then an idea was born.
Long story short–after contacting Gardner and receiving his blessing, they spent a year writing a complementary workbook for his textbook. Targeted at the university student, this workbook helps bridge the gap between the worlds of concept and theory and real-world, practical application. It follows the Gardner text chapter by chapter, with directed learning objectives and post lab questions to really challenge students to think about the activity that they have just finished. “You can read all about the methods, but to put them into practice is very important,” said Parish-Fisher. “Most of the time the application is more difficult than the concept, and this helps the students work through that learning curve in an educational environment versus on the job.”
Not only does the workbook help give the students some hands-on experience, it also gives them a real taste of what it’s like on the actual job – something previous forensic investigators found out by doing it. “While a college degree is important, I also believe nothing can be substituted for experience…,” Parish-Fisher said, and Ramirez agreed: “The students have sat through lectures and acquired much knowledge. Through the workbook, we’re giving them some information, providing real application events, and they have the opportunity to apply their knowledge and learn new technical skill sets.” Ramirez added that involvement like this is invaluable in helping the students decide whether this is the right career choice for them.
For Ramirez, this is all about paying it forward. “All of us doing forensic work now are standing on the shoulders of those who came before us,” she said. “So I see a responsibility to try and create a foundation that these students can stand on and move forward. Hopefully, we’re helping foster the future of our profession.”
Public Safety & Security Division Director Tom Shehan added: “We are quite proud of both Christine and Casie. The great work they accomplished surrounding this project illustrates the vast amount of expertise each provides when delivering Texas Forensic Science Academy training. There is no doubt, the pride these two employees take in their work should be recognized as some of the best instruction TEEX has to offer.”
Published by CRC Press, the workbook is also available from Barnes and Noble and Amazon.