Balcombe J. Animals in Education: Teaching Objectives and Student Performance. Paper presented at: Alternatives in the Mainstream: Innovations in Life Science Education and Training. 2nd InterNICHE Conference; 2005 May 12-15; Oslo, Norway


Methods exist today, for all teaching objectives and learning contents, which do not require animal experiments or animals killed specifically for their purpose. Should we be using them and sparing the animals? Ethical argument suggests we should. But that might assume that animal-friendly learning methods are as educationally effective as animal-consumptive ones. This paper examines some of the evidence for how alternatives compare with traditional animal-consumptive methods for meeting teaching objectives and enhancing student performance. I first outline the potential for alternatives to meet traditional teaching objectives in the life sciences, including responses to commonly held arguments used to defend animal dissections. I next present some of the advantages that alternatives provide the learner in comparison to traditional methods. A review of some of the empirical studies sheds further light on the potential for alternatives to replace animal use in such fields as biology, medicine, and nursing.