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The Importance of Dissection in Biology

Oct 07,2016 by Edulab

Many teachers and education professionals maintain that there is no substitute for the hands-on learning experience of dissection.

The learning that occurs courtesy of a dissection is vastly different to that afforded by a lecture or textbook lesson. Drawing together many of the topics students have heard and read about, dissection gives students first-hand experience in seeing the subject matter. This unique hands-on learning environment can impart an appreciation and understanding of anatomy, unparalleled by second-hand teaching techniques.

Many individuals find it much easier to learn when they are able to carry out physical activities. Indeed, kinaesthetic learning does boast greater benefits for some, enabling them to more fully engage with the subject matter being studied. The hands-on approach of dissection allows students to see, touch and explore the various organs. Seeing organs and understanding how they work within a single animal may strengthen students’ comprehension of biological systems. When applied to their own bodies, this may then translate to a greater understanding of human biology.

While, of course, there are various differences between the intricacies of the human body and those of other animals, many of the internal systems can work in similar ways. From the location of organs to their interrelation with the surrounding tissue, the internal structure of a small animal can be likened to a simplified human body. Frogs are often used in dissection when demonstrating the organ systems of a complex organism. The presence and position of the organs found in a frog are similar enough to a person to be able to provide insights into the internal workings of the human body.

More often than not, when students know they will be working on a real specimen, their attention is heightened. This can facilitate greater assimilation of information, enhanced understanding of the subject matter and the ability to recall the biological science behind the specimen.

Similarly, many teachers believe the reality conveyed by dissection cannot be matched by alternatives. Virtual simulations cannot showcase abnormalities or variations from one specimen to the next. It would seem that overly perfect alternatives cannot compete with the biological surprises of real specimens and the learning opportunities they provide. From manipulating sharp instruments to employing delicate hand-eye co-ordination, the reality of physically dissecting a specimen can also develop fine motor skills.

From inspiring students’ career prospects to providing valuable hands-on practice, dissection can also prove to be a good early experience for those wishing to pursue pertinent professions. Early exposure to tools and techniques, as well as familiarity with organ tissue,  may bolster some students’ ambitions. Indeed many a surgeon may well credit their career to the fascination afforded by a classroom session with the scalpel.

Dissection is a memorable and instructive aspect of the biology curriculum, allowing students to learn how their own bodies work within the confines of the classroom. Computer software and dissection models provide additional resources to reinforce this practical hands-on approach. Contact Edulab today for a wide range of dissection tools and kits to suit different skill levels and learning objectives.