The Impact of Introducing Computer-based Alternatives to the Use of Animals in the Teaching of Physiology and Pharmacology at Balkan Universities — A Pilot Study
Zvezdana Z. Kojic and David G. Dewhurst
Balkan universities use a substantial number of small mammals and amphibians in the teaching of physiology and pharmacology. This project investigated whether making computer-based alternatives readily available, and combining this availability with a staff development workshop focusing on methods of integrating such resources into undergraduate curricula, would have any effect on animal use. Teachers from 20 Institutes (from five Balkan countries) participated in the workshop. They presented information about animal use in teaching in their universities, and agreed to introduce at least one computerbased alternative into their teaching in the following year. They were surveyed by questionnaire before, during, and one year after, attending the workshop, in order to estimate any changes in animal use. The results showed a significant (P < 0.01) reduction in animal use and a high level of implementation of the alternatives provided at the workshop. Teachers recognised the potential benefits of using computers to support their teaching. They lacked knowledge about what computer-based alternatives are available and how to find information about them, including published evidence of their educational effectiveness. In this pilot study, a combination of staff development and making alternatives readily available to teachers had a significant impact on animal use in the teaching of physiology and pharmacology.