Dr Rachel Searston

McKenzie Postdoctoral Fellow

Melbourne CSHE

Rachel joins the Melbourne Centre for the Study of Higher Education in 2017 as a McKenzie Fellow. The University of Melbourne McKenzie Postdoctoral Fellowships Program brings together talented, recent doctoral graduates from all academic disciplines to build and lead interdisciplinary collaborative research. Rachel is part of the Educational Technology Research Group.

Rachel researches how best to create expertise in higher education settings and industry learning contexts, including: radiology, fingerprint identification, and face recognition. She is primarily interested in the cognitive and metacognitive aspects of learning and expertise acquisition: ‘how’ people learn, and how people ‘think’ they learn. Rachel collaborates with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade as well as state and federal police agencies, investigating learning methods for developing perceptual expertise. She has also been involved in a research project with the Brisbane Science Centre (Queensland Museum Network), examining children’s need for cognition, perceptions of science, and conceptual learning.

Rachel completed her PhD in psychology (cognitive science) at the University of Queensland. She worked as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow with Associate Professor Jason Tangen at the University of Queensland School of Psychology before taking up a McKenzie Fellowship at the University of Melbourne.

Recent research and development grants

2017: Creating expertise: Understanding learning and metacognitive processes in the blended classroom. R. A. Searston. University of Melbourne McKenzie Postdoctoral Research Fellowship. Funding: $87,415 per annum for three years.

2015: COMPASS: Improving passport processing for the Australian Passport Office. P. Sanderson, A. Haslam, J. M. Tangen, S. Viller, B. Matthews, K. Greenaway, K. Peters, S. Parker, N. Steffens, M. B. Thompson, R. A. Searston, & K. Santomauro. Australian Passport Office, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Research Contract). Funding: $238,239.

2013: The emergence of expertise with novel objects. Australian Postgraduate Award. R. A. Searston. Australian Government. Funding: $24,653 per annum for three years.

Recent publications

Journal articles

Searston, R. A., & Tangen, J. M. (in press). The style of a stranger: Identification expertise generalizes to coarser level categories. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review. doi: 10.3758/s13423-016-1211-6

Searston, R. A., & Tangen, J. M. (in press). Training perceptual experts: feedback, labels, and contrasts. The Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology.

Edmond, G., Towler, A., Growns, B, Ribeiro, G., Found, B., White, D., Ballantyne, K., Searston, R. A., Thompson, M. B., Tangen, J. M., Kemp, R. I., & Martire, K. (in press). Thinking forensics: Cognitive science for forensic practitioners. Science & Justice. doi: 10.1016/j.scijus.2016.11.005

Edmond, G., Found, B., Martire, K., Ballantyne, K., Hamer, D., Searston, R.A., Thompson, M. B., Cunliffe, E., Kemp, R., San Roque, M., Tangen, J., Dioso-Villa, R., Ligertwood, A., Hibbert, B., White, D., Porter, G., & Roberts, A. (2016). Model forensic science. Australian Journal of Forensic Sciences, 2016, 1—42.  doi: 10.1080/00450618.2015.1128969

Searston, R. A., Tangen, J. M., & Eva, K. W. (2016). Putting bias into context: The role of familiarity in identification. Law and Human Behavior, 40 (1), 50—64. doi: 10.1037/lhb0000154

Edmond, G., Martire, K., Found, B., Kemp, R., Hamer, D., Hibbert, B., Ligertwood, A.,  Porter, G., San Roque, M., Searston, R. A., Tangen, J. M., Thompson, M. B., & White, D. (2014). How to cross-examine forensic scientists: A guide for lawyers. Australian Bar Review, 39(2), 174—197.

Edmond, G., Tangen, J. M., Searston, R. A., & Dror, I. E. (2014). Contextual bias and cross-contamination in the forensic sciences: The implications for investigations, plea bargains, trials and appeals. Law, Probability & Risk, 14(1),1—25. doi: 10.1093/lpr/mgu018

Thompson, M. B., Tangen, J. M., & Searston, R. A. (2014). Understanding expertise and non-analytic cognition in fingerprint discriminations made by humans. Frontiers in Psychology, Cognition. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00737

Conference proceedings

Tangen, J. M., Searston, R. A., & Matthew B. Thompson (2017). Turning novices into experts with style. Proceedings of the 12th Biennial Meeting of the Society for Applied Research in Memory and Cognition (SARMAC) 2017, Sydney, Australia: 3–6 January 2017.

Searston, R. A., & Tangen, J. M. (2016). Perceptual expertise is flexible to changes in task but not changes in class. Talk presented at the 43rd Experimental Psychology Conference, Melbourne, Australia: 30 March–2 April, 2016.

Searston, R. A., & Tangen, J. M. (2015). Should forensic experts justify their decisions in court? Talk presented at the 5th International Conference on Evidence Law and Forensic Science. Adelaide, Australia: 22–23 July, 2015.

Searston, R. A., & Tangen, J. M. (2015). Identification expertise and family resemblance categorisation. Talk presented at the 42nd Experimental Psychology Conference. Sydney, Australia: 9–11 April, 2015.

Searston, R. A. (2015). Training visual expertise. Talk presented at the 3rd Annual Unfamiliar Face Matching Research Meeting. Sydney, Australia: 17–18 February, 2015.

Searston, R. A., & Tangen, J. M. (2014). “Match” or “No Match”? Learning to Identify Unfamiliar People. Proceedings of the Psychonomic Society 55th Annual Meeting. Long Beach, California: 20–23 November, 2014.

Tangen, J. M., Searston, R. A., & Thompson, M. B. (2014). Visual expertise and identification. Proceedings of the Psychonomic Society 55th Annual Meeting. Long Beach, California: 20–23 November, 2014.

Searston, R. A., & Tangen, J. M. (2014). Mapping the development of identification expertise: A prospective longitudinal approach. Talk presented at the 41st Experimental Psychology Conference. Brisbane, Australia: 23–26 April, 2014.

Edmond, G., Found, B., Kemp, R. I., Martire, K. A., Searston, R. A., Tangen, J. M., Towler, A., & White, D. (2014). Psychological factors in the interpretation, delivery and assessment of forensic science evidence. Talk co-presented at the 22nd International Symposium on the Forensic Sciences of the Australian and New Zealand Forensic Science Society. Adelaide, Australia: 1–4 September, 2014.

Searston, R. A., & Tangen, J. M. (2014). Developing expertise in the identification of fingerprints and faces. Talk presented at the 2nd Annual Unfamiliar Face Matching Research Meeting. Sydney, Australia: 19–20 February, 2014.

Searston, R. A., & Tangen, J. M. (2013). From a novice to an expert: Training and recruitment in identification. Talk presented at the School of Psychology 4th Annual Research Higher Degree Day. Brisbane, Australia: 1 November, 2013.

Searston, R. A., & Tangen, J. M. (2013). Cognitive bias in fingerprint identification: The subtle effects of familiarity. Proceedings of the 40th Experimental Psychology Conference. Adelaide, Australia: 3-6 April, 2013.

Keynote and invited presentations

Edmond, G., et al. (2015). How to cross-examine forensic scientists: Critical issues in the provision of expert evidence. Australian and New Zealand Forensic Science Society ACT Branch. Canberra, Australia: 28 November, 2015. (panel session)

Edmond, G., Thompson, M. B., & Searston, R. A. (2015). Heuristics, biases and error rates in forensic science. Queensland Police Service, Forensic Services Group. Brisbane, Australia: 21 August, 2015. (panel session)

Edmond, G., et al. (2015). How to cross-examine forensic scientists: A guide for lawyers. 5th International Conference on Evidence Law and Forensic Science. Adelaide, Australia: 22–23 July, 2015. (panel session)

Searston, R. A., & Tangen, J. M. (2015). Turning novice identifiers into experts. 11th Biennial Meeting of the Society for Applied Research in Memory and Cognition. Victoria, BC, Canada: 24–27 June, 2015. (invited seminar)

Searston, R. A., & Tangen, J. M. (2013). Training and recruitment in forensic reasoning. 2013 Fingerprint Expert’s Conference, HMAS Penguin. Sydney, Australia: 4 November, 2013. (invited keynote)