The Use of Complex Case Study as a Teaching Tool in Policing Higher Education: Practitioner Research and Evaluation

Simmons, Michael (2020) The Use of Complex Case Study as a Teaching Tool in Policing Higher Education: Practitioner Research and Evaluation. Doctoral thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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The fact that operational police work involves successful interaction with a complex and often ambiguous context is not adequately reflected in the design of higher education curricula designed to prepare recruits for practice. Existing curricula have their origins in training programmes designed prior to the translation of recruit preparation from an organisational training context to one in higher education. In particular, curricula are based on exclusively cognitive intended outcomes that limit learning opportunities and take no account of the elements of learning and development of values driven judgement that lie in the affective domain. This research set out to develop a learning tool that was capable of integrating cognitive and affective learning and which could be utilised within an explicitly constructivist curriculum, and then to evaluate the use of the instrument in practice.

The writing of the learning tool used semi structured interviews of two victims of crime, a police constable and an inspector. These interviews, which attempted to capture the lived experiences of the interviewees, were transcribed and made available to learners along with real advice documents and published police policy documents. The research to evaluate the tool followed an action research methodology where the teaching tool was used on a group of undergraduate students and data gathered by means of semi structured interviews and teacher observations. This resulted in some minor amendments to the tool itself and to the pedagogical considerations of its use. The amended tool was used again with a different cohort of undergraduates, and data gathered using similar methods.

The data were all transcribed and the resulting text subjected to thematic analysis in order to reach findings. These included that the teaching tool had some limited positive effect in facilitating both affective and cognitive learning but that its effectiveness was limited by its context. The findings did not include the identification of appropriate pedagogical principles to inform the widespread adoption of complex case studies beyond the very limited principles identified in planning its use. Consequently, this thesis contains a detailed critical consideration of pedagogy from the literature, presented as a separate chapter (Chapter 5).

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