The Debate over Dissection: Dissecting a Classroom Dilemma

By Madrazo, Gerry M., Jr. | Science Educator, Spring 2002 | Go to article overview

The Debate over Dissection: Dissecting a Classroom Dilemma


Madrazo, Gerry M., Jr., Science Educator


As the debate over dissection in the classroom continues, attention is being paid to the benefits of actual dissections, as well as to the advantages of dissection alternatives for the science education of students.

Policy makers, curriculum developers, administrators, teachers and students across the country have begun to reevaluate the science curriculum and scrutinize the role of dissection in science teaching-particularly in the science classroom. Recently, a new wave of court cases and legislation has brought nonhuman animal dissection to the forefront of science education issues. Also, teachers, students, and parents are questioning the value of classroom dissection. Some dissection objections stem from animal rights concerns, students' moral values, and parental concern for the emotional well being of students. From a different perspective, many teachers fear the loss of academic freedom in the classroom and the possibility of a less effective educational environment resulting from this controversy.

Although there has been increasing interest on the issue of animal dissection, little attention has been given to the issue in educational publications. There is still a dearth of research on dissection as a tool for learning, but animal dissection certainly deserves analysis on the part of science teachers and concerned educators. Data must bring both student and teacher opinion and the value of dissection as a learning technique into consideration. Findings from a student poll published in the North Carolina Science Teachers Association's (NCSTA) The Journal (Hounshell and Hill, 1996) indicate that over one third of the students polled do not enjoy dissection. Of those who enjoy it 53% said they enjoy it only 'a little' and 36.1% think you learn only 'a little.' As far as mandating dissection, 63%Io of students polled believe dissection should not be a required activity in science classes. Still, Hounshell and Hill recognize the limits of past studies by commenting that "incredibly, with all the dissection in elementary, middle school, and high school, we do not have research evidence either to support or refute dissection as a classroom strategy." A 1993 scientific study published by the Journal of Research in Science Teaching examined "The Effects of an Interactive Dissection Simulation on the Performance and Achievement of High School Biology Students" (Kinzie, Strauss, and Foss). The experimental findings suggested that IVD (Interactive Videodisk-- based) simulation was at least as effective as actual dissection in promoting student learning of frog anatomy and dissection procedures." However, the most effective strategy carried out in this study was IVD simulation used as a preparation for actual dissection. Participants in this trial performed subsequent dissections much more effectively, achieved more of the activity goals, and retained more knowledge than both the dissection-- only and IVD-only groups.

Where They Stand

Leading national organizations recognize the immediate need to address the "dissection issue," and many groups have published position statements concerning dissection in the science classroom. Often, groups such as the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) and the National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT) leave the issue of dissection to the teacher's discretion in his/her particular environment. NSTA's position [see figure 1] states that animal dissection "enables students to develop skills of observation and comparison, a sense of stewardship, and an appreciation for the unity, interrelationships, and complexity of life." Still, this NSTA position statement stresses that teacher supervision and effective, responsible instruction are essential. Teachers must provide a safe, knowledgeable and respectful environment for dissection labs. The NABT promotes a similar policy. When confronted with the dilemma of whether to dissect in the classroom, NABT states "biology teachers are in the best position to make this determination for their students" as long as dissections are "conducted within the long established guidelines of proper care and use of animals, as developed by the scientific and educational community.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Debate over Dissection: Dissecting a Classroom Dilemma
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.