Why Dissection?

Animal Use in Education

by Lynette A. Hart, Mary W. Wood, Benjamin L. Hart


A resource that provides information on alternatives to dissection in biology classes

Print Flyer
Cover image for Why Dissection?

February 2008


Pages 240
Volumes 1
Size 7x10
Topics Science/General

Why do students continue to dissect animals in biology classes? Why, despite the excellence of teaching resources for veterinary and human medical education that substitute for dissection, do those provided for pre-college students fall short in convenience, flexibility, and coordination with the curriculum? Why Dissection? Animal Use in Education looks beyond the typical yes-or-no debate about dissection to understand how we came to our current practice of dissection in intermediate and high school biology, even as preparation of health professionals has moved away from dissection. Despite the many forces that support the continued use of dissection in pedagogy, teachers retain much autonomy in how they teach in the classroom, and legislation in many states provide specific requirements for what should and should not be taught in separated science and health curricula, offering students the option to not engage in dissection. Why Dissection? walks students, teachers, and parents through these options to help them make more informed choices regarding their science education options.


  • The volume includes information on the many organizations who supply relevant information and materials on dissection and teaching resources. Databases and other specialized websites offered here simplify the effort required for teachers to identify promising resources and those that will become available in the future.


  • Why Dissection? covers the whole gamut of issues surrounding the use of animals in science education:
  • The early history of dissection, and the controversies in the development of science education and dissection.
  • Educational testing, national and state educational standards, and the place of dissections
  • Legislation and regulations related to the use of animals and dissection in teaching
  • The animal used in teaching


"Why does animal dissection continue to be a hallmark of high school biology curricula when it fails to explicitly appear in most educational standards or frameworks? This controversial yet enduring facet of science classrooms is dealt with in a comprehensive and well-written new book which is grounded in a rich historical and philosophical context. Of particular interest are the sections that deal directly with national and state standards, and discuss the sometimes conflicting objectives of pre-college science education and the related areas of health and veterinary training. In subsequent chapters, teachers are offered resources which serve to empower them to consider viable alternatives to the practice. The diminishing educational benefits of dissection and the overall welfare of students are prevalent themes in this book. Hart, Wood and Hart note this topic is fraught with emotional arguments, and they adeptly manage to preserve professional and scholarly discourse while respecting the very personal nature of this topic. This book is best for all preservice and practicing biology teachers, curriculum coordinators, and those interested in policy and standards across science, veterinary, and health education. Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and up."Choice

Look Inside

Other Titles of Interest

The 100 Most Important Chemical Compounds cover imageScience Terms Made Easy cover imageThe History and Use of Our Earth's Chemical Elements cover image
Forensic Science cover imageAncient Astronomy cover imageThe Counter-Creationism Handbook cover image

Product Search

Product Search

Publication Year



Need Help? Try our Search Tips