Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Curriculum & Instruction


Curriculum and Instruction

Major Professor

Speaker, Richard


One way to determine if all students can learn through the use of computers is to introduce a lesson taught completely via computers and compare the results with those gained when the same lesson is taught in a traditional manner. This study attempted to determine if a virtual fetal pig dissection can be used as a viable alternative for an actual dissection for females enrolled in high school biology classes by comparing the knowledge acquisition and attitudinal change between the experimental (virtual dissection) and control (actual dissection) groups. Two hundred and twenty four students enrolled in biology classes in a suburban all-girl parochial high school participated in this study. Female students in an all-girl high school were chosen because research shows differences in science competency and computer usage between the genders that may mask the performance of females on computer-based tasks in a science laboratory exercise. Students who completed the virtual dissection scored significantly higher on practical test and objective tests that were used to measure knowledge acquisition. Attitudinal change was measured by examining the students' attitudes toward dissections, computer usage in the classroom, and toward biology both before and after the dissections using pre and post surveys. Significant results in positive gain scores were found in the virtual dissection group's attitude toward dissections, and their negative gain score toward virtual dissections. Attitudinal changes toward computers and biology were not significant. A purposefully selected sample of the students were interviewed, in addition to gathering a sample of the students' daily dissection journals, as data highlighting their thoughts and feelings about their dissection experience. Further research is suggested to determine if a virtual laboratory experience can be a substitute for actual dissections, or may serve as an enhancement to an actual dissection.


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