Time: G&T: Level/Grade Boundaries:
A2 – Mixed ability
(what are they
Are activities closely
matched to individual
Are objectives referred back
to throughout the lesson?
Students will learn about the Cognitive Interview
Technique and Geiselman & Fisher’s research.
They will be able to critique the technique and the
Students will apply this knowledge to exam style essay
Success Criteria (The
students will be able
All students will have a basic understanding of the
Cognitive Interview Technique
Most will be able to apply these concepts successfully to
exam style essay questions.
Some will have a sophisticated understanding of these
concepts and be able to apply them to other aspects of
How does this lesson reflect
progress from last lesson?
Students have already learnt about the issues with leading
questions and the reconstructive nature of memory at AS.
They have also learnt about issues with Eye Witness
How will students make
further progress next
Students will learn to apply this knowledge to essay
questions and will learn how the cognitive interview
technique fits into the ‘Making a Case’ topic. Future
lessons will move onto interviewing suspects.
Are resources clear,
imaginative and engaging?
Making a Case booklet
Film Clip of Cognitive Interview Technique
Post it notes
Mini white boards
How will I ensure excellent
progress within & over
Are learners involved in the
assessment of their own
Does questioning engage all
Does marking inform
students how to improve
Teacher will move around and question students
Students will self and peer assess by discussing answers
Homework task will ensure students apply their knowledge
How will the lesson
motivate and engage all
Does the plenary engage all
students in reviewing
A plenary after the main activity will ensure all students
have understood the main concepts.
The final plenary and homework task will check that
students have understood how to apply their knowledge to
Do appropriate and regular
tasks have a significant
impact on learning?
Complete essay plan: -
a) Outline any relevant research which can inform us about how a
witness should be interviewed (10)
b) Evaluate the methodology used to investigate the interviewing
of witnesses (15)
Timing Teacher Activity Student Activity
Starter – False memory
Lesson Objectives shared.
Show DVD clip.
Short quiz on main points.
Show rest of DVD.
Two students (HAs) to role-play
Circulate and answer questions.
Plenary: - Give Homework task
Students to memorise words on board (should
induce false memory of ‘Sweet’ in some). Q &
A session to assess previous understanding of
false memory and its link to EWT.
Students to watch closely and try to remember
Students to answer questions and discuss their
Students to take structured notes.
Students to chant 4 principles of cognitive
Students to make notes and discuss errors in
Students to read studies in hand out and
complete evaluation table. (If time is short this
will be incorporated into homework task).
Students paired according to ability (HA, MA,
Students to write one thing they have learnt
today on a post it note to stick on board.
What worked well?
What would I need to modify for future lessons?
Cognitive Interview Worksheet
1) What were the two groups in
the experiment and how many
participants were in each group?
2) What common mistake do police make when interviewing witnesses?
3) What are the four techniques used in the cognitive interview technique?
4) In the laboratory experiment how many more factswere recalled?
5) In the field experiment how much more information was gathered?
Cognitive Interview – What not to do
Witness: Hello officer, thank you for coming
Police Officer: No problem. Glad to help.
W: Are you going to take my statement?
PO: Of course. First I must tell you that I have been trained in the use of the cognitive
PO: It’s one of those fancy psychology words. It just means that I will be doing things
a little different from how you might have been interviewed before.
W: Oh, ok.
PO: First I want you to put yourself back into the situation. Close your eyes and
visualise where you were when the incident happened. Are you doing that?
W: Eyes closed Yes.
PO: So where were you?
W: In the classroom
PO: Can you describe it to me?
W: Um yeah. Opens eyes it’s here. We’re in it.
PO: Please just answer the question. Quickly now!
W: It’s a classroom. It has about 20 chairs and 10 tables, a whiteboard.
PO: Good good. Tell me what happened first?
W: I heard a noise outside...
PO: Excited A noise?! Describe it to me. Was it footsteps? Two sets of footsteps?
Perhaps one of them sounded like a Caucasian man in his late forties with an eye
W: Um, maybe. I...
PO: Sounds just like the man we have in custody. Do continue.
W: Like I said, I heard a noise. I looked out of the window. I saw a man in a green
coat. He was trying to break in through the door.
PO: What colour is the door?
PO: Part of the cognitive interview technique is that we have to get every detail. So
what colour is the door?
W: Burgundy, I think.
PO: And the handles?
PO: Excellent. And your mother’s maiden name?
W: Goddard. Anyway, I saw that he was trying to get in, so I went to the classroom
next door to get help, but Mrs Smith wasn’t there.
PO: If Mrs Smith was there, what would she have seen?
W: I’m sorry?
PO: Part of the cognitive interview is that we have to encourage the witness to see
things from another person’s perspective.
W: But I was alone.
PO: I know, but what would he have seen, if she was there?
W: Um, I don’t know. Me coming in through the door?
PO: Excellent. Now I am going to ask you to state the order of events in reverse.
What happened last?
W: I saw him running away with my laptop, and I called the police.
PO: But what happened after that?
W: Nothing really, I just waited for the police to arrive, and they did.
PO: But what was the very last thing that happened?
W: We started this conversation?
PO: Very good. Now, one last question. Judging by the perpetrator’s verbosity, would
one presume that he was domiciled within the local environs?
PO: Judging by the perpetrator’s verbosity, would one presume that he was domiciled
within the local environs?
W: I have no idea what you mean.
PO: A simple yes or no would be sufficient.
PO: Fantastic. Well, thanks for your time. We will be in touch shortly.
W: Is there any chance of getting my laptop back?
PO: Why? What happened to it?
W: Sigh slaps head
The Cognitive Interview (CI)
This was based largely on the work of Elizabeth Loftus and other
psychologists, following their theoretical work into memory and
EWT. Forensic psychologists combined various ideas and designed a more
effective way of questioning witnesses that has been shown to produce
more reliable recall of events. Fisher and Geiselman (1992) designed the
The technique is based around four main components:
Stages of the interview Why they might work
1. Report everything: It encourages
witnesses to report all detail that they
can remember regardless of how trivial it
may appear Points one and two are designed to
reinstate context. They get the
witness to mentally revisit the scene
and mentally reconstruct the incident in
2. Context reinstatement: It tries to
recreate the scene of the incident in the
mind of the witness, this includes the
sights, sounds and smells but also
crucially it attempts to model the
emotions and feelings of the person at
the time. This is based on the concept of
cue dependent memory.
Evidence suggests that we are more
likely to recall information if it is in a
similar context to when it was first
experienced or learned, so putting
ourselves in a similar state of mind
should aid recall.
3.Recall in reverse order: It encourages
witnesses to recall events in different
orders, for example starting half way
through a sequence of events and then
Points three and four are based on the
idea that once a memory has been
stored there is more than one way of
getting at it or retrieving it.
If one route fails then try another. So
if working through from start to finish
hasn’t worked try to accessing the
memory by sneaking up on it from a
different angle e.g. backwards.
4. Recall from a different perspective:
It encourages witnesses to view the
scene as others present may have seen it,
for example as other witnesses, the
victim or the perpetrator may have seen
Also, police should not interrupt the witness, use open questions and try
to develop a rapport (relationship) with the witness
Geiselman & Fisher (1985) Laboratory Test of the Cognitive
Aim: - To test the Cognitive Interview Technique
Procedure: - 240 participants watched a video of a store robbery. 120
were interviewed using the standard police interview and 120 using the
Cognitive Interview Technique.
Results: - Participants interviewed using the Cognitive Interview
Technique recalled 35% more facts.
Conclusion: - The Cognitive Interview Technique is a more effective
method of interviewing witnesses.
Geiselman & Fisher (1989) – Field-test of the cognitive interview
Aim: - To test the cognitive interview in the field
Procedure: - A field experiment was carried; using interviews with real
witnesses by 16 detectives from the Robbery division of Dade County,
Florida, police. Seven of the detectives were trained in the cognitive
interview technique (CI). The interviews were recorded and analysed by a
team at the University of California, who were blind to the conditions (i.e.
they didn’t know if the interview they were analysing was by a trained CI
detective or not). The amount of information gathered by the two groups
of detectives was collated.
Findings: - 63% more information was obtained by the detectives
trained in CI.
Conclusion: - Cognitive Interview Techniques do seem to work, more
information is gathered. This could help the Police solve more crimes.
Evidence for the cognitive interview
Kohnken et al (1999) carried out a meta-analysis of 53 other studies and
found that the CI could elicit an average of 34% more detail than the
standard interview. This supports Geiselman & Fisher.
Interestingly, when the four components of the interview are used
individually, e.g. recall in a different order, there is little gain over the
standard interview. It’s only when two or more components are used that
there is significant improvement in recall. Milne and Bull (2002). The
report everything and context reinstatement combinations appear most
But: it is difficult to compare studies carried out in different countries
and even between different police forces within a country since there are
now so many variations on the CI. For example in the UK the Merseyside
force use pretty much the original Fisher and Geiselman design whereas
Thames Valley Police (Inspector Morse and Lewis no doubt) tend to drop
the ‘reinstating context.’
One criticism of the technique is that it tends to be too time-consuming
and costly in practice.
Young children seem to find the instructions confusing and as a result
produce less reliable recall than with standard police
interviews. Geiselman (1999) recommends that the CI is only used on
children aged eight and over.
Does this study have ecological validity?
What are the strengths and weaknesses of laboratory experiments?
Why is it important that Geiselman & Fisher also did a field experiment?
What are the practical applications (usefulness) of this research?
What does it tell us about the reliability of EWT?
Can we generalise from the sample?