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MERLOT II


    

Peer Review


Frontline: An Ordinary Crime

by Frontline
 

Ratings

Overall Rating:

4.75 stars
Content Quality: 5 stars
Effectiveness: 4.5 stars
Ease of Use: 4.75 stars
Reviewed: Jul 07, 2009 by Criminal Justice Editorial Board
Overview: This site contains materials related to the Frontline video "An Ordinary Crime" which is the story of a man who was wrongly convicted of armed robbery. Materials included: a video excerpt from the program, additional readings, information about and interview transcripts from related individuals, NPR program about prosecutorial misconduct, information from the Innocence Project, information from DNA experts, and information about the unreliability of eyewitness testimony.
Learning Goals: • Explore weaknesses in the U.S. criminal justice system • Outline conflicting interests and motives of various actors in the criminal justice system. • Examine the opinions of experts in the legal system regarding flaws in the system.
Target Student Population: Undergraduate criminal justice students
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: None
Type of Material: Case Study
Recommended Uses: In class or as homework, individual or group assignments, integrated into lectures, etc.
Technical Requirements: Browser, Real Audio, Real Player

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: The materials are very thought-provoking and interesting from a student's perspective. The authors of the site do an excellent job including all related content, places for students to find additional information, expert testimony, and the perspectives of all of the players in this story.
Concerns: None except that it would be nice if they provided the full video online. I believe students won't get as much out of the site without being introduced to the story of this individual through the video.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 4.5 stars
Strengths: They do a very good job of showing all sides of this story along with how/why this person was wrongly convicted. They also do a good job of showing the relevance of surrounding issues, such as eyewitness testimony. Finally, they do a good job of grounding the issue in the discipline through the use of interviews with a law professor who discusses the history of the case and related issues. The case illustrates some of the conflicting interests of various actors in the criminal justice system.
Concerns: • The presentation of information presents only weaknesses and flaws in the system without any presentation of factors which might justify the decisions of the actors in question. Also, The site isn't set up for students, so terms aren't defined and the information isn't presented in a linear fashion.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 4.75 stars
Strengths: This site is extremely visually appealing and easy to use. Students will be able to intuitively navigate from one type of information to another. Video, audio, and transcribed interviews as well as other types of print material are provided.
Concerns: Links for the Innocence Project pages aren't active. The video isn't available online, but a 6 minute excerpt is. Also, it is not very interactive beyond the user’s ability to select from various types of presentation format.