Animal Studies Bibliography

Tamir, Pinchas and Aliza Hamo. 1980. Attitudes of secondary school students in Israel toward the use of living organisms in the study of biology. International Journal for the Study of Animal Problems 1(5): 299-311.

Purpose : examine students' attitudes toward various aspects of using live animals in the study of biology, to identify attitudes toward the use of different types of organisms, and to examine the effects of background variables on these opinion. [No hypotheses given.]

Independent variables/operational definitions : sex; grade in school (7, 9, or 11); type of school (religious or secular); species being used (pine tree, fern, carrot, orange, worm, ant, fly, mouse, poisonous snake, bat, lizard, frog, rabbit, pigeon, black snake, chicken, goat, cat, dog, fish)

Dependent variables/operational definitions : agreement with different uses of animals (5-point scale from don't agree (1) to fully agree (5)) and to do 2 experiments in particular (take off fish fins to see how it copes (the fins regenerate); dissect a mouse and do organ transplant to another mouse)

Findings : 94% said they enjoyed studying biology, suggesting that any reservations expressed are all the more important for teachers to take into account, because they are not simply from students who dislike the subject matter in general. Students generally support the use of animals and feel it motivates them to learn more. They also express, however, concern for animals and their treatment. Their responses are somewhat contradictory, and in general reflect a concern for animals (and therefore a desire to minimize their suffering) but also a recognition of the value of using animals. For example, 68% agree or fully agree that it is wrong to treat animals however one wishes, but 67% agree or fully agree that experiments where animals only suffer temporary damage are okay. There were no significant differences by sex or type of school on these general items. 7th grade students, however. showed less support for the use of animals in research, the importance of using animal for learning, and the importance of students doing the experiments themselves, perhaps reflecting that younger children have more empathy for animals, while older kids focus on pragmatics. 55% said they would do the fin removal experiment, 11% would refuse, 25% preferred to use plants, and 17% preferred to use movies or TV to learn the information. Significantly more 7th graders (in whose curriculum the experiment falls) said they'd refuse. For experiments where irreversible damage will come to the organism, students view plants and lower animals (worm, ant, fly) as the same, and 2/3 are willing. Almost half the students disapproved of causing irreversible harm to pine trees or ferns, but only a third felt the same for carrots or oranges. This counters the usual notion that using plants in experiments is unproblematic for students. The difference among the plants is probably because we usually eat the latter two and therefore students are more used to considering them in utilitarian fashion. Students accepted use of pets (dog, cat, fish) and useful animals (black snake, chicken, goat) the least, and were more accepting of the use of neutral (lizard, frog, rabbit, pigeon) and harmful (mouse, poisonous snake, bat) animals. 7th graders were less willing to cause irreparable damage to plants and lower animals. Boys were more willing to use plants, lower animals, and harmful animals than were girls, but there were no sex differences on the use of neutral animals, pets, and useful animals. There was no difference by school type. Responses to particular types of animals were mixed: while 7th graders were more concerned about using lower animals ad plants, 9th and 11th graders disapproved more of using frogs and bats; religious school students were more willing to use pine trees and poisonous snakes, while secular school kids were more willing to use ferns. 2/3 were willing to operate on a mouse, either because it would not suffer due to the anesthesia (23%), because it would help advance human health (64%), or because it was good practice to be a good doctor (4%). 20% would refuse because the mouse might not survive. 7th graders and religious school students were less willing to operate, but girls' and boys' willingness did not vary. 74% rejected replacing animal experiments with TV and videos, but 50% accepted watching the experiment on video (when the experiment harmed the animal irreparably) so fewer animals would be harmed. This general ambivalence should be taken into account by curriculum planners to minimize student discomfort and should be discussed in class. Dissections should probably be postponed until at least 9th grade.

Sample/population sampled : 456 high school biology students from 9 schools in Israel (150 from religious schools, 306 from secular). 114 were 7th graders, 144 9th graders, and 198 11th graders. Only 40% of the sample recorded their sex (89 boys, 93 girls) but they can be assumed to be similar to the rest, and therefore differences can be assumed to apply to all.



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