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Open AccessArticle

Examining the Effects of Rabbit-Assisted Interventions in the Classroom Environment

1
Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Kaposvár University, Guba S. str. 40, 7400 Kaposvár, Hungary
2
Faculty of Pedagogy, Kaposvár University, Guba S. str. 40, 7400 Kaposvár, Hungary
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2020, 10(1), 26; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10010026
Received: 25 October 2019 / Accepted: 7 November 2019 / Published: 20 December 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Animal Assisted Therapies and Interventions 2019)
At the beginning of the first grade of elementary school, children generally show higher levels of anxiety, which continually decreases due to interactions with teachers. However, anxiety levels in children can also be decreased by using additional methods such as animal-assisted interventions in class. In this study, the efficiency of a rabbit-assisted intervention was examined in two first-grade classes with different backgrounds. In one of the classes, most of the pupils had special education needs. It could be concluded that rabbit-assisted interventions were particularly efficient where the anxiety levels of the children were high. This method seems to be useful in improving the efficacy of the educational ability of teachers.
The effect of rabbit-assisted interventions on the anxiety levels of first-grade children at a primary school was analyzed. At the beginning of our research, no rabbit-assisted intervention was applied for 6 weeks in order to establish the level of stress caused by the start of the education period. We then alternated 6-week-long periods with and without rabbit-assisted intervention. The level of anxiety in children was assessed every three weeks both in the assisted and non-assisted periods, using the State–Trait Anxiety Inventory for Children, STAI-C. One of the examined classes did not apply the integrating policy while the other class contained pupils with special education needs (called the integrating class). Rabbit-assisted interventions proved to be efficient, as anxiety level scores were significantly lower during the animal-assisted periods. The rabbits actively initiated encounters with humans, not only in the framework of animal-assisted interventions, but also at other occasions. In cases of discomfort, the rabbit retreated to the cage and stayed inside for a short time. The children displayed signs of pleasure when the rabbits approached them. The favorable effect of animal assistance was more apparent in the integrating class. It could be concluded that rabbit-assisted interventions were suitable for decreasing the anxiety levels of elementary school children, improving the efficacy of the educational ability of teachers. View Full-Text
Keywords: rabbit-assisted intervention; level of anxiety; classroom; primary school rabbit-assisted intervention; level of anxiety; classroom; primary school
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Molnár, M.; Iváncsik, R.; DiBlasio, B.; Nagy, I. Examining the Effects of Rabbit-Assisted Interventions in the Classroom Environment. Animals 2020, 10, 26.

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