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A study that surveyed Ontario science teachers on their beliefs about animal dissection found that over half of teachers indicate that they use dissection for pedagogic reasons; that dissection helps solidify student’s knowledge, reinforces concepts and its the “best” way to learn about anatomy and physiology (Oakley, 2012). However, many studies have demonstrated that non-animal alternatives can also provide effective educational learning opportunities to students. Alternatives can typically be used be multiple times, are cost effective, align with the 3Rs and do not harm animals. 

The Society for Humane Science conducted a systemic literature review of the educational efficacy of non-animal alternatives compared to dissection. They found non-animal alternatives performed as well as, or better than dissection in 90% of the studies. 

For an overview of the all of comparative studies along with the methods for systematic review process visit their website. 


There are numerous alternative resources for teaching about body systems that continue to be improved upon.

Here are a few human anatomy linksonline dissection simulatorsapps and other alternatives


Oakley, J. (2012) Science teachers and the dissection debate: Perspectives on animal dissection and alternatives. International Journal of Environmental & Science Education Vol 21(4). pp. 360-267.  PDF  

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