Enhancing learning through the use of animals in undergraduate biology teaching: the student voice

Ashley Edwards, Susan M. Jones, Fiona L. Bird, Laura J. Parry


The way in which society views the use of animals in university learning and teaching has changed dramatically in the last 30 years. A review of the literature shows that those who support the use of animals in teaching and learning counter arguments for effective alternative teaching strategies on the basis that in some situations there are no alternatives which provide the same skills and experiences. Debate by teachers and animal welfare advocates about the pros and cons of using animals in learning and teaching is widespread in the published literature, nationally and internationally, but rarely gives the students themselves a voice.
A case study, based on a survey of students at three Australian universities, explored student perspectives on the use of animals in learning and teaching. The results show that biology students appreciate the authenticity of such experiences and the consolidation of theoretical learning, and the chance to tap into multiple learning modes using hands on experiences. In particular, students see the benefits of such experiences improving not only their understanding of biological concepts and opportunities for future employment, but also their awareness of the ethics of working with animals, which has direct relevance to Science Threshold Learning Outcome 5.

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