Animal dissection is practiced to varying degrees around the world and is particularly prevalent in North America throughout all levels of education. However, a growing number of studies suggest that non-animal teaching methods (NAMs) (e.g., virtual anatomy tools and three-dimensional models) are better for achieving learning goals compared to dissection. We conducted a systematic review of studies published between 2005 and 2020 that evaluated the pedagogical value of NAMs versus animal dissection. Our results from 20 published studies show that in 95% of the studies (19/20) students at all education levels (secondary, postsecondary, and medical school) performed at least as well—and in most of those studies better (14/19)—when they used NAMs compared to animal dissection. These results provide compelling evidence in support of the 3Rs’ principle of replacement. Given that NAMs have been demonstrated as effective for science education, steps should be taken by educational institutions to phase out animal dissection.

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