Gazzano, A, Mariti, C, Cozzi, A, Papi, F, Sighieri, C and McBride, E.A.
Effect of the presence of a dog on pre-adolescent children's learning of canine anatomy and physiology.
Proceedings of the 16th Annual Conference of the International Society of Anthrozoology. The Power of Animals: Approaches to Identifying New Roles for Animals in Society.
International Society of Anthrozoology.
Effect of the presence of a dog on pre-adolescent children’s learning of canine anatomy and physiology. Angelo Gazzano*, Chiara Mariti*, Alessandro Cozzi*, Francesca Papi*, Claudio Sighieri*, E. Anne McBride° *
Dep. of Veterinary Anatomy, Biochemistry and Physiology- University of Pisa (Italy) ° School of Psychology- University of Southampton (UK) email@example.com
Introduction: children are interested in animals and this focus may increase attention for and, thus, retention of related information. The research hypothesis was that a dog in the classroom would aid learning of given knowledge about canine anatomy and physiology in pre-adolescent children.
Methodology: a class of fifteen 8 year old children in Pisa (Italy) was randomly divided in 2 groups: A (5 girls and 2 boys) and B (6 girls and 2 boys). Each group attended 6 lessons matched for topic (with audio-visual aids) and teacher. For every lecture, one group attended in the presence of a 2 year old female dog and the other without the animal; condition was reversed for the following lesson. Therefore, both groups attended 3 lectures with the dog and 3 lectures without. At the end of each lesson, children filled out a 10-item questionnaire on the lesson topic; these were completed again 3 months later. Numbers of correct answers for the dog or no-dog condition by lesson were compared using Chi-square test (p<0.05).
Results: results showed that children performed significantly better when the dog was present. This was true for all lectures except the first: 2nd (Χ2=5.293; p=0.007), 3rd (Χ2=7.904; p=0.000), 4th (Χ2=5.029; p=0.025), 5th (Χ2=4.373; p=0.008) and 6th (Χ2=5.167; p=0.023) lesson. At the follow-up, a decline in knowledge retention was observed in both conditions, but more evident in the dog-present (mean±standard deviation: 7.89±0.27 to 5.59±0.29) than in the no-dog condition (6.18±0.90 to 5.83±0.54). No differences persisted between the two conditions.
Conclusions: the presence of a dog in the classroom seems to increase children’s short-term learning of a related topic. This may be due to the dog acting as a focus for attention for related information. However, findings suggest this increased attentiveness in the dog’s presence does not influence long-term retention.
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