Animals have traditionally been used in education and training for a wide variety of reasons, and at all levels from junior school through University to research laboratories.
Clear definition of the objectives of the exercise in which animals, or animal material, are proposed will make it easier to reach a decision as to whether the use is still justifiable or not. Possible objectives include:
- Teaching and practising
- laboratory skills
- general animal handling skills
- preparation-specific animal skills
- imparting good ethical thinking
- new knowledge and reinforcing existing
- data handling skills
- experimental design skills
- communication skills (oral, written)
- group work
- staff-student interaction
Many of these objectives can be reached without animal use, or with simulators. In some of these cases, animal use may even act negatively on the audience (e.g. if the aim is to impart good ethical thinking, or if the Three Rs are part of the curriculum). The use of animals in school dissections is increasingly questioned, and there are now a large number of alternatives available.
- Zemanova et al. (2021): Educational use of animals in Europe indicates reluctance to implement alternatives
- Dewhurst D (2004): Computer-based Alternatives to Using Animals in Teaching Physiology and Pharmacology to Undergraduate Students
- Dewhurst D (2004): Is Animal-Free Teaching in the Life Sciences Better Teaching?
- Hughes IE (2001): Do computer simulations of laboratory practicals meet learning needs?
- The NORINA database of alternatives and supplements to animal use, at all levels from junior school to University
- Homemade simulators for clinical training