Grigg E, Hart LA, Moffett J. Comparison of the effects of clay modeling & cat cadaver dissection on high school students’ outcomes & attitudes in a human anatomy course. Am. Biol. Teach. 2020;82:596–605


Increasing public concern over the use of animal dissection in education is driving development and testing of alternatives to animal use. Clay modeling has proven successful in achieving comparable or superior learning at postsecondary levels, but it has not yet been tested at secondary levels. This study tested the effectiveness and appeal of clay models vs. cat cadaver dissection in teaching human anatomy to high school students. Student performance on a content knowledge assessment increased following both the model and dissection laboratories. The use of clay models produced better short-term learning outcomes in human anatomy for high school students than the use of cat dissection techniques, although this improvement was not retained in students’ final examination scores. Students found the clay models both useful and enjoyable. Overall, the majority of students chose dissection as the preferred technique; however, after the laboratory exercises, the proportion of students who chose dissection decreased, for both the clay modeling and cat dissection laboratory sections. In the clay modeling group, the proportion of students expressing preference for clay modeling was slightly higher than the proportion preferring cat dissection.