The Purpose of this article is to research the actual condition of animal dissection in science lessons in elementary and junior high schools in Japan. The obtained results are as follows.
1) The execution rate of animal dissection in elementary schools has been about 10% for 10 years or more. As for junior high schools, it has been about 30% in the same time period.
2) Materials of dissection in elementary schools were almost only fish, but materials of dissection in junior high schools diversified, and the majority were frogs.
3) Almost all teachers regard “understanding the structure of an animal’s body” as the main purpose of animal dissection. However, about 25% of students stated it that “understanding the structure of an animal’s body” might not be possible in a dissection class.
4) Reactions of junior high students who dissected an animal were various. As for the distasteful nature of dissection of an animal, boys were stronger than girls.
This research aimed to develop the teaching material in dissection using fresh-water fishes. Three popular species in Japan, Micropterus salmoides, Lepomis macrochirus and Carassius auratus langsdorfi, were used in dissection. The purpose of the dissection was to find out the structures of the outer form, digestive organ, heart: heart beating, sexual organ, central nervous system, eyes; lens and so on in detail. The whole process took about one hour.
The results of observation showed that the dissection using fresh-water fishes for dissection is good because the fishes are easily available as teaching materials for junior and senior high school. It is easy for the teacher to get these materials, and less repugnant for students to participate in dissection. Furthermore, this material is available for pre-service and in-service teacher training, and so, they will be able to acquire the skill and educational use of dissection.
We considered one of the reasons for the rare chance to dissect animals in biology class in schools; it is the lack of experience of science teachers in dissecting animals. Therefore, we made graduate students dissect eleven kinds of animals, then analyzed the answers to the questionnaires which were given to the students and finally asked them to submit a lesson plan. The results of this study are as follows:
- The skills of students were improved. Their reluctance was reduced and their attitude was changed positively to perform animal dissection.
- Half of the students felt strange and had some fear to dissect animals. But they accepted the need for killing animals as a biology class activity.
- Concerning frogs, mice and hens, the results of dissection were understood well. These three kinds of animals and fishes were considered to be good teaching material for dissection in schools.
- The students thought that experience about animal dissection is necessary for science teachers.
- The idea of animal dissection focused on in this training was adopted into the students’ lesson plans. We thought that the training and students’ skills will allow them to feel comfortable in performing animal dissection in schools. Moreover, the students will be able to use their knowledge and skills of animal dissection into their class lessons in the future.