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Learning in practice: Arrangements for learning and supervision for becoming a forensic expert
Linköping University, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Education and Adult Learning. Linköping University, Faculty of Educational Sciences.
Linköping University, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Education and Adult Learning. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
2012 (English)Report (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The profession of a forensic expert is a narrow field in which professional knowledge is highly specialised and must meet the judicial system’s demand for high quality. How does one obtain such knowledge? And furthermore, how does one arrange for the necessary education and training to become a forensic expert? In Europe, professional training to become a forensic scientist is available through Forensic Science degree programs in universities (Welsh & Hannis, 2011). In this report, we present findings from an ethnographical study (Köpsén & Nyström, 2011, 2012) of the only formal way to become a forensic expert in Sweden: an internal training program at the Swedish National Laboratory of Forensic Science (SKL).

This report is based on a study with the overall aim of investigating future forensic experts’ learning of professional knowledge and professional identity formation. In the Swedish National Laboratory of Forensic Science (SKL), there is a structured internal training system for forensic expert trainees, which combines general forensic introductory courses for forensic experts with supervised learning in practice. The specific aim of the study was to investigate subject-specific supervision and how it interacts with the more general courses. The results of the study demonstrate that supervision and gradual learning in practice are crucial to the development of future professional forensic experts, and its interplay with the courses in the internal training program is poor. Our findings show there are different ways to understand and realise supervision. Therefore, the preconditions for learning professional forensic knowledge differ. We have presented these variations of learning in a model of supervision arrangements and relationships according to the distinctiveness of the learning and the relationship with the assigned supervisor and other forensic experts. Using examples of supervision, we have shown how various supervision activities relate to different aspects of learning and, thus, direct the learning of different aspects of professional knowledge. We have found that having a professional language is crucial to a skilled forensic expert, though the trainees’ development of such language is not comprehensive. From the findings, we can observe a “transitional movement” in how the supervision is staged, depending on the trainees’ experience, i.e., how long they have been trainees and their educational backgrounds. An additional finding is that the economic and material preconditions are significant as the conditions of supervising and learning.


Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping, 2012. , 45 p.
, SKL Intern rapport, 2012:08
Keyword [en]
Supervision, supervising, professional, work place learning, forensic experts, trainees
National Category
Social Sciences Learning
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-81491OAI: diva2:553007
Available from: 2012-09-17 Created: 2012-09-17 Last updated: 2012-09-25

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Köpsén, SusanneNyström, Sofia
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