Date Posted... Dec 14th 2022

Lower Sixth Psychologists learn about Eye Witness Testimony

Lower Sixth Psychology students have ended their study of Memory by completing projects on Eye Witness Testimony. They created their own witnesses to a crime scene and then applied their knowledge to write an advice sheet for police about the influence of leading questions, post-event discussion and anxiety on recall. Finally, the students created advice on questions the police could use to elicit the maximum amount of information, as well as the benefits and problems associated with using a Cognitive Interview with their eye witnesses. 


Students said they had learned a lot more about the topic content: Sam said, “I hadn’t realised the huge effect that discussing an event can have on changing what people remember,” and Harry commented, “leading questions can have such an impact on changing a witness’s recall of an event.” Students also learned a lot about writing skills – linking evaluations to scenarios, building an argument, being specific and application to real life.  


Overall, all the students said they had really enjoyed the interactive approach to learning, being given choice in building a scenario and the freedom to present it as they wished. It was a large project and many appreciated learning how to break it into manageable chunks to support their independent study. Congratulations to Sarah, Ben, Jack, Lola and Maggie for achieving top marks on this project.


Additionally, some of the students had a real-life experience of how unreliable eye witnesses can be. Mrs Flowers came into the classroom with Bumble during a lesson and “stole” a chocolate orange from Mrs Stone’s handbag (pre-planned, of course!). Ten minutes later the students were asked to describe what she was wearing, how tall she was and what she did.  


Some didn’t see her steal anything, even though it occurred right in front of them. Her jumper was reported as green or blue or orange, with one student reporting her wearing a flowery dress, and her height was estimated correctly by only one student, the others estimated 5” shorter. This illustrates that our expectations can lead to inaccurate memories. 


Photo: the class with Mrs Flowers (and the chocolate orange) after their debrief. 

Photo: some of the Psychology students with their completed projects.