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Long Course

Statistics for Forensic Practitioners

Statistics for Forensic Practitioners is a self-paced, online, continuing education course addressing fundamental concepts in statistics and probability. You will learn how statistical principles apply to the evaluation of evidence, including the assessment of the probative value of the evidence and the range of conclusions that can be derived from forensic analyses. Led by Dr. Alicia Carriquiry, a statistician with decades of experience educating communities, and provided by the Center for Statistics and Applications in Forensic Evidence (CSAFE), this course equips you to address the core concepts of probability, statistics, and their application to today’s issues in forensic science –– no matter your prior knowledge of statistics.

The emphasis of the course is not on performing statistical analysis but on understanding why statistical ideas must guide the collection, visualization, exploration, analyses, and interpretation of evidence. The instructors will also discuss what can and cannot be concluded from various statistical analyses and how to present results that are supported by statistical findings.

The 30 hours of learning is a self-paced, online, provided for forensic professionals like you –– to help you continue learning, deepen your knowledge, and explore applications of statistics and probability to forensic science.

Interested in additional CSAFE learning opportunities?

Check out our Forensic Scientist Education Center.

Have questions?

Contact us or email csafelearning@iastate.edu.

Who is this for?

Forensic Examiners

Statistics for Forensic Professionals was built specifically to teach statistics and probability to working forensic examiners who wish to explore new concepts or refresh their knowledge of statistics. This course contains approximately 30 hours of learning, is available online and is self-paced. You will learn how statistical principles apply to the evaluation of evidence, including the assessment of the probative value of the evidence and the range of conclusions that can be derived from forensic analyses.

Forensic Science Laboratory Director or Supervisor

CSAFE created this course so you can give your team learning opportunities to explore how statistical principles apply to the evaluation of evidence. Forensic science degree and training programs rarely focus on statistics and probability, but you know that your colleagues are always looking for ways to expand their knowledge.  

Other Working Forensic Professionals (or those who want to be)

Are you working in forensic science or are you studying to become a forensic professional? Then this course can help form the bedrock of knowledge that will enable you to progress your knowledge of statistics and probability. Statistics for Forensic Practitioners can help you achieve the goal of furthering your professional education.

When you finish Statistics for Forensic Practitioners, you will

 

1

Understand the differences between populations and samples and methods to make inferences from the sample to the population, and the consequent need for well-designed experiments and surveys.

2

Be able to critically assess the designs used in published scientific papers and their impact on the findings presented by investigators. Students will be asked to evaluate designs and their strengths and weaknesses.

3

Be able to read the course textbook and similar texts to update their knowledge as their need for additional statistical knowledge evolves. Students should be able to identify situations where additional professional statistical help is called for.

4

Be able to calculate minimum sample sizes for basic experimental designs and surveys and other basic statistics.

You may be thinking

This course was specifically designed to introduce statistics and probability in an applicable, easy-to-understand way so any forensic practitioner can immediately absorb the information and understand how the concepts apply to their work.


The emphasis of the course is not on doing statistical analysis but rather on understanding how statistical approaches can help guide the collection, visualization, exploration, analyses, and interpretation of evidence.

You'll learn how statistical principles apply to all aspects of the evaluation of evidence, including the assessment of the probative value of the evidence, and the range of conclusions that can be derived from the forensic analyses. And, because it is available 24/7 online, you can take each module when you learn best, at your own pace.

We made this course to give you a simple way to provide access to statistics and probability knowledge for anyone in your group who needs it. Once learners are registered, they will complete modules and quizzes at their own pace. They can send you progress updates and inform you when they complete the course, which is customized for our primary audience: forensic professionals.

Inside Statistics
for Forensic Practitioners

This course has nine sections plus quizzes and answer keys, all designed to build your skill set at your own pace while being immediately applicable.

Section 1:
Introduction

Introduces concepts such as the scientific method, statistics as a mathematical science, and the difference between a population and a sample.

Section 2:
The language of probability

Defines fundamental probability concepts and introduces standard mathematical notation used in probability.

Section 3:
Collecting data

Discusses the characteristics of a good sample and sampling design.

Section 4:
Types of data

Defines categorical and quantitative data and discusses how they can be visually and numerically summarized.

Section 5:
Probability models and uncertainty

Introduces concepts related to random variables and defines commonly used probability models.

Section 6:
Inference

Explores common statistical inference techniques including point and interval estimation and hypothesis testing.

Section 7:
Regression and analysis of variance

Introduces methods to mathematically describe the relationship between variables including simple linear, multiple linear, and logistic regression.

Section 8:
Analyzing and Interpreting
Forensic Evidence

Compares different approaches to analyzing and interpreting forensic evidence including the two-stage approach and the likelihood ratio.

Section 9:
Reporting and testimony

Compares and contrasts different approaches to reporting forensic evidence.

Frequently Asked Questions

Prior experience with probability, statistics, or Microsoft Excel is not required. It is recommended that participants have taken at least one college-level algebra course or above, although manual computation is not a major part of the course.

The course fee is $1,400 per student. The fee can be paid by organizations or individuals. Please contact Anthony Greiter (agreiter@iastate.edu) for questions about your learning needs, payment options or group rates.

The course takes approximately 30 hours to complete.

Course materials will be available to participants through the completion of the scheduled finals week.

It is recommended that participants complete the learning in sequential order; however, all portions of the course are immediately available and can be completed in any order.

All participants need access to:

  • a computer,
  • reliable internet,
  • an updated internet browser, and
  • Microsoft Excel.

Demonstrations and labs are carried out using Microsoft Excel. Compatibility with another spreadsheet software cannot be guaranteed.

Questions

If you have any questions about Statistics for Forensic Practitioners –– or if you want to provide access for a group ––  please contact Anthony Greiter.