Welcome to the President’s DNA Initiative - DNA Analyst Training. The program is the distance delivery version of the Forensic DNA Academy, which was previously developed by the NFSTC for the National Institute of Justice.
Training new DNA analysts by the traditional method of on-the-job mentoring has several shortcomings, including:
- Negative input on case output arising from the extensive time that the mentor has to divert from casework to training
- Inefficient application of time by the student because of the absence of a well implemented training program
- Lack of consistency in the quality of training because the mentor is usually chosen on the basis of experience and skills as a DNA analyst, not those of a trainer
- Lack of physical capacity and other supporting resources to provide effective hands-on training
- Length of time (typically 12 to 24 months) before the student is able to perform unsupervised case work
The NFSTC explored the concept that the mentoring model could be compressed into a 12 to 16 week period of full time instruction, permitting a more rapid and less costly induction of the student into case work.
The Forensic DNA Academy curriculum was developed in 2003 and delivered three times at the NFSTC facility in Largo, Florida during 2004 and 2005. Evaluations confirmed that the compressed learning model was an effective way to train new DNA analysts.
Detailed program review identified areas of concern requiring improvement, including:
- The cost of student travel and housing
- The emotional burden associated with being away from home base and family for a continuous, extended period of time
- The lack of sites with the laboratory facilities, instructors, and access to lodging required to implement the training
- The inability to accommodate the differences in specific implementation of DNA analysis, including platforms, mixture interpretation protocols, and technical procedures used by individual laboratories
For these reasons, the successful academy concept was re-engineered to deliver the knowledge base through distance learning, specifically multi-media CD. The content was written by a wide range of subject matter experts and developed by instructional designers for optimum computer-based delivery. The training was designed to meet the guidelines outlined by the Scientific Working Group on DNA Analysis Methods (SWGDAM).
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