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Review

The Educational Efficacy of Humane Teaching Methods: A Systematic Review of the Evidence

by 1,2,3,* and 4,5
1
Animalfree Research, Postgasse 15, 3011 Bern, Switzerland
2
Centre for Compassionate Conservation, University of Technology Sydney, Ultimo, NSW 2007, Australia
3
Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics, 91 Iffley Road, Oxford OX4 1EG, UK
4
Centre for Animal Welfare, University of Winchester, Winchester SO22 4NR, UK
5
School of Environment and Science, Nathan Campus, Griffith University, 170 Kessels Rd, Nathan, QLD 4111, Australia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2021, 11(1), 114; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11010114
Received: 18 November 2020 / Revised: 16 December 2020 / Accepted: 5 January 2021 / Published: 7 January 2021
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Welfare)
Despite the fact that there are currently many humane teaching methods available, harmful animal use in education and training remains widespread among life and health sciences disciplines. The use of humane teaching methods instead is based not only on legal, ethical, and economic factors, but also on evidence that these training techniques are just as efficient or even better in improving knowledge, understanding, and clinical or surgical skills proficiency among students. However, studies systematically comparing the learning outcomes of both harmful animal use and humane teaching methods are more than a decade old, and the evidence needs to be updated. Here, we assess and summarize the currently available studies through the process of a systematic review. We found 50 relevant studies and established that in 90% of studies humane teaching methods were as or more effective than harmful animal use in achieving desired learning outcomes. These results are clear—there is no valid educational reason for continued harmful animal use in education and training.
Humane alternatives to harmful educational animal use include ethically-sourced cadavers, models, mannequins, mechanical simulators, videos, computer and virtual reality simulations, and supervised clinical and surgical experiences. In many life and health sciences courses, however, traditional animal use persists, often due to uncertainty about the educational efficacy of humane alternatives. The most recent comprehensive reviews assessing learning outcomes of humane teaching methods, in comparison to harmful animal use, were published more than 10 years ago. Therefore, we aimed to collate and analyse the combined evidence from recent and older studies about the efficacy of humane teaching methods. Using specific search terms, we systematically searched the Web of Science, SCOPUS, and EMBASE databases for relevant educational studies. We extracted information on publication years, the country in which the study was conducted, field, humane teaching methods, form of learning outcome assessment, and the learning outcome of the humane teaching methods, in comparison with harmful animal use. We found 50 relevant studies published from 1968–2020, primarily stemming from the USA, UK, and Canada. Humane teaching methods produced learning outcomes superior (30%), equivalent (60%), or inferior (10%) to those produced by traditional harmful animal use. In conclusion, a wide-spread implementation of humane teaching methods would not only preserve learning outcomes, but may in fact be beneficial for animals, students, educators, and institutions.
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Keywords: 3Rs; alternatives; animal use; education; learning outcome; replacement 3Rs; alternatives; animal use; education; learning outcome; replacement
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MDPI and ACS Style

Zemanova, M.A.; Knight, A. The Educational Efficacy of Humane Teaching Methods: A Systematic Review of the Evidence. Animals 2021, 11, 114. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11010114

AMA Style

Zemanova MA, Knight A. The Educational Efficacy of Humane Teaching Methods: A Systematic Review of the Evidence. Animals. 2021; 11(1):114. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11010114

Chicago/Turabian Style

Zemanova, Miriam A., and Andrew Knight. 2021. "The Educational Efficacy of Humane Teaching Methods: A Systematic Review of the Evidence" Animals 11, no. 1: 114. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11010114

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