Journal of Science Education and Technology

, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 95–105 | Cite as

Living Animals in the Classroom: A Meta-Analysis on Learning Outcome and a Treatment–Control Study Focusing on Knowledge and Motivation

  • Eberhard Hummel
  • Christoph RandlerEmail author


Prior research states that the use of living animals in the classroom leads to a higher knowledge but those previous studies have methodological and statistical problems. We applied a meta-analysis and developed a treatment–control study in a middle school classroom. The treatments (film vs. living animal) differed only by the presence of the living animal. Both treatments were based on the self-determination theory. More than 400 pupils filled in pre-test, post-test and two follow-up-tests (with a delay of 6–8 weeks and 7–8 months). After each lesson, pupils rated the lesson on a short intrinsic motivation scale. In the meta-analysis, we found that the living animal treatments significantly scored better than a control group, but not when comparing living animals with alternative treatments. In the treatment–control study, both treatments led to a significant increase in knowledge but there were no differences between film and living animal treatment. Pre-test and previous grading had a significant influence on post- and both follow-up tests. In the mouse lesson, pupils of the living animal group showed higher values in interest and competence and lower values in pressure. Interest and competence correlated positively with achievement, while pressure correlated negatively.


Intrinsic motivation Knowledge Learning Living animal Meta-analysis Treatment–control study 



The study was approved under the license of the federal ministry of education Baden-Württemberg. We are grateful to all pupils, parents, teachers and principals that supported our study. EH received a grant from the Ministry of Wissenschaft & Kunst, Baden-Württemberg and support from the University of Education, Heidelberg. Christian Vollmer and two reviewers gave helpful comments that improved the manuscript.

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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Biology and DidacticsUniversity of EducationHeidelbergGermany

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