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Article

Alternatives in Education—Evaluation of Rat Simulators in Laboratory Animal Training Courses from Participants’ Perspective

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Institute of Animal Welfare, Department of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Behavior and Laboratory Animal Science, Freie Universität Berlin, 14163 Berlin, Germany
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Institute of Veterinary Anatomy, Department of Veterinary Medicine, Freie Universität Berlin, 14195 Berlin, Germany
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Institute for Veterinary Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Department of Veterinary Medicine, Freie Universität Berlin, 14163 Berlin, Germany
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MF 3—Experimental Animal Research and 3R—Method Development and Research Infrastructure, Robert Koch-Institute, 13353 Berlin, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Vera Baumans
Animals 2021, 11(12), 3462; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11123462
Received: 29 October 2021 / Revised: 28 November 2021 / Accepted: 3 December 2021 / Published: 5 December 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Welfare of Laboratory Animals)
Training on live animals in laboratory animal science (LAS) courses is legally defined as an animal experiment. For stringent implementation of the 3R (replace, reduce, refine) principle, five rat simulators are currently available which provide training of handling and routine procedures. As these simulators seem to have great benefit for all users, the aim of this study is to investigate the simulators’ impact on the 3R principle from the course participants’ perspective, who can best evaluate their learning efficacy which, in turn, defines their 3R potential. Thus, the simulators were evaluated by 332 course participants of 27 specialized LAS courses by completing a practical training workshop and a paper-based two-part questionnaire, integrated in the official course schedule. The results revealed strong support for simulator-based training and it was considered a useful supplement in LAS training. However, the simulators currently available may not completely replace training on a live animal and improvements are necessary. As these results are also reflected in literature data on simulator training in other fields of education and training, more research regarding novel simulators and their development is needed, in order to ensure an even more comprehensive protection of laboratory animals in education and training in future.
In laboratory animal science (LAS) education and training, five simulators are available for exercises on handling and routine procedures on the rat, which is—beside mice—the most commonly used species in LAS. Since these simulators may have high potential in protecting laboratory rats, the aim of this study is to investigate the simulators’ impact on the 3R (replace, reduce, refine) principle in LAS education and training. Therefore, the simulators were evaluated by 332 course participants in 27 different LAS courses via a practical simulator training workshop and a paper-based two-part questionnaire—both integrated in the official LAS course schedule. The results showed a high positive resonance for simulator training and it was considered especially useful for the inexperienced. However, the current simulators may not completely replace exercises on live animals and improvements regarding more realistic simulators are demanded. In accordance with literature data on simulator-use also in other fields of education, more research on simulators and new developments are needed, particularly with the aim for a broad implementation in LAS education and training benefiting all 3Rs. View Full-Text
Keywords: 3R principle; humane education; training; alternative; laboratory animals; EU Directive; survey; SimulRATor; laboratory animals science courses; refinement 3R principle; humane education; training; alternative; laboratory animals; EU Directive; survey; SimulRATor; laboratory animals science courses; refinement
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MDPI and ACS Style

Humpenöder, M.; Corte, G.M.; Pfützner, M.; Wiegard, M.; Merle, R.; Hohlbaum, K.; Erickson, N.A.; Plendl, J.; Thöne-Reineke, C. Alternatives in Education—Evaluation of Rat Simulators in Laboratory Animal Training Courses from Participants’ Perspective. Animals 2021, 11, 3462. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11123462

AMA Style

Humpenöder M, Corte GM, Pfützner M, Wiegard M, Merle R, Hohlbaum K, Erickson NA, Plendl J, Thöne-Reineke C. Alternatives in Education—Evaluation of Rat Simulators in Laboratory Animal Training Courses from Participants’ Perspective. Animals. 2021; 11(12):3462. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11123462

Chicago/Turabian Style

Humpenöder, Melanie, Giuliano M. Corte, Marcel Pfützner, Mechthild Wiegard, Roswitha Merle, Katharina Hohlbaum, Nancy A. Erickson, Johanna Plendl, and Christa Thöne-Reineke. 2021. "Alternatives in Education—Evaluation of Rat Simulators in Laboratory Animal Training Courses from Participants’ Perspective" Animals 11, no. 12: 3462. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11123462

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