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Attitudes Toward Dissection: An Annotated List of
1. Adkins, J. and Lock, R. 1994. Using animals in secondary education: a pilot
survey. Journal of Biological Education 28(1): 48-52.
A survey of teachers (28) in charge of biological sciences at schools/colleges showed
extensive use of animals in the classroom. One in three educators surveyed argued against
2. Bennett, J. 1994. New survey shows Colorado students want a choice. Good Medicine
Of 110 medical students surveyed, 78% supported a student's right to choose not to
participate in required terminal dog labs, and 32% felt that, given a choice, they would
not participate in such labs.
3. Bowd, A.D. 1993. Dissection as an instructional technique in secondary science:
Choice and alternatives. Society and Animals 1(1): 83-88.
In a retrospective survey of 191 Canadian undergraduates, 69% were required to perform
dissections in secondary school; 27% reported having exclusively negative reactions to
dissection, and 38% reported both negative and positive reactions.
4. Brown, L.M. 1989. A demographic comparison of the perceptions of ninth grade
students toward dissection and other uses of animals. Thesis for Teacher Leader Program,
College of Education and Human Services, Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio.
Half of a group of 142 ninth graders responded that they would choose an alternative to
dissection if provided and 90% believed that students should be given that choice.
5. Keith-Spiegel, P.C., Tabachnick, B.G. and Allen, M. 1993. Ethics and academia:
Students' views of professors' actions. Ethics & Behavior 3(2): 149-162.
A survey of 482 undergraduates found that 62% felt that it would be unethical for their
professor to require them to use electric shock on rats.
6. Lock, R. 1994. Dissection as an instructional technique in secondary science:
Comment on Bowd. Society and Animals 2(1): 67-73.
A review of comparative studies on dissection practices finds that dissection and
vivisection should be discussed in the classroom.
7. Lord, T. and Moses, R. 1994. College students' opinions about animal dissections.
Journal of College Science Teaching 23(5): 267-270.
Of 200 undergraduates surveyed, 56% objected to performing live animal procedures and more
than half said they would refuse to participate in the dissection of cats, rabbits or
monkeys if the situation arose.
8. McKernan, R.-A. 1991. Student opinions about the use of dissection in science
classes. Planning, Research and Accountability report. Albuquerque Public Schools: 21 pp.
Of 972 respondents to a survey of high school students, 72% felt that students should be
allowed to use dissection alternatives. About 15-16% reported that they and/or other
students asked for alternative lessons or to be excused from performing the dissection.
9. Millett, K. and Lock, R. 1992. GCSE students' attitudes towards animal use: some
implications for biology/science teachers. Journal of Biological Education 26(3): 204-
In a survey of 468 14 and 15-year-old students, 72.5% felt that it is wrong to breed
animals for dissection, 83.5% felt that alternatives to animal experimentation should be
found, and 38% "would object to any animal material being used for dissection."
10. Smith, W. 1994. Use of animals and animal organs in schools: Practice and
attitudes of teachers. Journal of Biological Education 28(2): 111-117.
In a survey of 106 Australian schools, 34 preferred observational or behavioral studies to
animal experimentation, and natural habitats to classroom settings. Over half of the
respondents reported ethical objections to dissection, and students nauseated by it.
11. Solot, D. and Arluke, A. 1997. Learning The Scientist's Role: Animal Dissection
in Middle School. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 26(1): 28-54.
This study of the responses of sixth graders to fetal pig dissections concluded that the
exercise risks fostering callousness towards animals and nature, and that it may dissuade
students, especially girls, from pursuing careers in scientific fields.
12. Willis, L.R. and Besch, H.R. 1994. Effect of experience on medical students'
attitudes toward animal laboratories in pharmacology education. Academic Physician and
Scientist March: 11-13.
A survey of 144 medical students showed that while most students found dog-labs to be
helpful, 22% felt that this use of animals is morally wrong.
13. Arluke, A. and Hafferty, F. 1996. From apprehension to fascination with
"Dog Lab." The use of absolutions by medical students. Journal of Contemporary
Ethnography 25(2): 201-225.
Medical students (41) initially felt moral uneasiness towards performing terminal
procedures on live dogs, but they eventually were able to neutralize any feelings of moral
guilt by learning absolutions (e.g., the staff killed the dogs) that permit denial of
responsibility and wrongdoing.
Compiled by Jonathan Balcombe, Ph.D.