McCollum TL. The effect of animal dissections on student acquisition of knowledge of and attitudes toward the animals dissected. Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation.


A conflict exists over the use of animals in the classroom. One aspect of this use involved the dissection of animals. Animal protection advocates report that dissections constitute abuse of the animals dissected. The advocates state that what is learned by dissection could be more effectively learned by other means. Some science educators state that dissections do not constitute abuse; they are educationally justified. They claim that dissections actually help students to better understand and appreciate the animals. The purpose of this study was to investigate how animal dissections affected student attitudes toward and the learning of information about the animals dissected. A comparison was made of the knowledge gained and the attitudes influenced by dissection with that gained and influenced by a lecture presentation. It was found that students who were taught by lecture experienced greater gain in achievement than did the students who dissected a frog. However, there was no significant difference in achievement between minority students who dissected a frog and those receiving the lecture. Students who attended neighborhood schools expressed more positive beliefs about frogs with dissection instruction, but non-neighborhood school students indicated more positive beliefs with the lecture approach. No significance was found concerning feelings toward frogs between the two treatment groups. (CW)