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Comparative Studies of Dissection and Other
Uses of Animals in Education
1. Cohen, P.S. and Block, M. 1996. A field-based animal research approach for
teaching learning and motivation. Alternatives to Laboratory Animals [submitted
Overall performance ratings were equivalent
between two groups of students, one that studied operant conditioning in a traditional lab
using rats, and the other that studied feral pigeons in a city park.
2. Dewhurst, D.G., Hardcastle, J., Hardcastle, P.T., and Stuart, E. 1994. Comparison
of a computer simulation program and a traditional laboratory practical class for teaching
the principles of intestinal absorption. American Journal of Physiology 267 (Advances in
Physiology Education 12/1): S95-S104.
Six second-year undergraduate students who
worked independently using an interactive computer-assisted learning program achieved
equal knowledge gain, at one-fifth the cost, as did eight students who worked under close
supervision in a traditional laboratory using freshly killed rats.
3. Downie, R. and Meadows, J. 1995. Experience with a dissection opt-out scheme in
university- level biology. Journal of Biological Education 29/3: 187-194.
The cumulative examination results of 308
students who studied model rats were the same as those of 2,605 students who performed rat
dissections. Significant numbers of students in the study claimed that they chose to
dissect mainly through concern over their examination results.
4. Fawver, A.L., Branch, C.E., Trentham, L., Robertson, B.T., and Beckett, S.D.
1990. A comparison of interactive videodisc instruction with live animal laboratories.
American Journal of Physiology 259 (Advances in Physiology Education 4): S11-S14.
In this study involving 85 first-year veterinary
students, use of interactive videodisc simulations yielded equivalent test performance and
greater time efficiency in teaching cardiovascular physiology compared with instruction in
a live-animal laboratory.
5. Greenfield, C.L., Johnson, A.L., Schaeffer, D.J., and Hungerford, L.L. 1995.
Comparison of surgical skills of students trained with models or live animals. Journal of
the American Veterinary Medical Association 206: 1840-1845.
Surgical skills of thirty-six third-year
veterinary students were evaluated following training either with dogs and cats or with
soft-tissue organ models. The performance of the two groups was equivalent.
6. Guy, J.F. and Frisby, A.J. 1992. Using interactive videodiscs to teach gross
anatomy to undergraduates at The Ohio State University. Academic Medicine 67: 132-133.
In this study of 473 pre-nursing and
pre-medicine students, the performance of those using computers (interactive videodiscs)
was not significantly different from that of students in traditional cadaver-demonstration
7. Jones, N.A., Olafson, R.P., and Sutin, J. 1978. Evaluation of a gross anatomy
program without dissection. Journal of Medical Education 53: 198-205.
Learning performance of approximately 100
first-year Emory University medical students using films, computer- assisted instruction,
and prosected human cadavers was equivalent to that of students taught using a traditional
8. Lieb, M.J. 1985. Dissection: A valuable motivational tool or a trauma to the high
school student? Thesis, Master of Education, National College of Education, Evanston,
Post-test scores were equivalent for
students who dissected earthworms and those who received a classroom lecture on earthworm
9. McCollum, T.L. 1987. The effect of animal dissections on student acquisition of
knowledge of and attitudes toward the animals dissected. Doctoral Dissertation, University
Half of a group of 350 high school biology
students were taught frog structure, function, and adaptation via lecture, the other half
by doing a frog dissection. Overall, students taught by lecture performed better on a
post-test than did those taught by dissection.
10. More, D. and Ralph, C.L. 1992. A test of effectiveness of courseware in a
college biology class. J. Educational Technology Systems 21: 79-84.
Half of a class of 184 first-year biology
students used traditional animal-based laboratories while the remainder used computer
courseware. Biology knowledge of the computer-taught students increased significantly more
than did that of the traditional group.
11. Phelps, J.L., Nilsestuen, J.O., and Hosemann, S. 1992. Assessment of
effectiveness of videodisc replacement of a live-animal physiology laboratory.
Distinguished Papers Monograph, American Association for Respiratory Care.
Undergraduate nursing and
respiratory-therapy students who studied using an interactive video program on cardiac
output principles performed significantly better on a post-test than did a similar group
taught with lecture and live- animal physiology laboratory.
12. Prentice, E.D., Metcalf, W.K., Quinn, T.H., Sharp, J.G., Jensen, R.H., and
Holyoke, E.A. 1977. Stereoscopic anatomy: Evaluation of a new teaching system in human
gross anatomy. Journal of Medical Education 52: 758-763.
Based on the learning performances of 16
physician's assistant students evaluated at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, the
authors concluded that use of labeled sequential slides of anatomical dissections provided
a viable alternative to dissection.
13. Samsel, R.W., Schmidt, G.A., Hall, J.B., Wood, L.D.H., Shroff, S.G., and
Schumacker, P.T. 1994. Cardiovascular physiology teaching: Computer simulations vs. animal
demonstrations. Advances in Physiology Education 11: S36-S46.
Medical students (110) used both computer
demonstrations and animal (dog) demonstrations and rated the former higher for learning
14. Strauss, R.T. and Kinzie, M.B. 1994. Student achievement and attitudes in a
pilot study comparing an interactive videodisc simulation to conventional dissection. The
American Biology Teacher 56(7): 398-402.
Two groups of high school students (total n
= 20) performed equally on a test following either animal dissection or interactive