In a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and developed by lead researchers at the University of Washington, which included Scott Freeman, Mary Wenderoth, Sarah Eddy, Miles McDonough, Nnadozie Okoroafor, Hannah Jordt, and Michelle Smith, findings about STEM courses utilizing the active learning model illustrated higher pass rates than courses using a traditional lecture model.
If you have ever taken a biology class in high school or college, you may have had to dissect an animal at some point. Although some may find this an important learning experience, many students feel uncomfortable or disgusted slicing open an animal. The dissection kits are also expensive and not environmentally- or animal-friendly.
Recently, a few classes and schools have begun the switch to dissecting digital animals (most often frogs) in computer programs rather than real ones. Rancho Verde High School in Moreno Valley, CA, has made the switch completely and is the first high school in the country to do so. The license for the software the school uses, a popular program called Digital Frog 2.5, only costs $884. When the school was still spending money on physical frog dissection, this cost was $7,000 for 30 shared dissection kits. Additionally, if students were to make just one wrong snip or cut while dissecting the frog before, the whole project would have been ruined. The digital direction is foolproof.
The National Science Teachers Association approved of Digital Frog 2.5 in 2008, but some critics still think that the digital experience doesn’t compare to the physical one. Some fear that students will not learn as much if they are not holding the animal themselves. A related article by GOOD discussed this issue and the studies that have been done to see if this may be true. Interestingly enough, the students in one study actually learned faster with the software than the students who performed the dissection traditionally.
At the moment, several university biology programs are also making the switch. This trend is great news for students, schools and animals.
On a tighter budget? Check out the Frog Dissection App for your Apple device!