Discussing the use of animal models in biomedical research via role play simulation

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Educational institutions have a responsibility not only to provide a solid theoretical background on scientific phenomena, but to also frame them within the wider social context and highlight their numerous ethical implications. It is fundamental that tomorrow’s scientists be encouraged to develop an informed and critical approach towards scientific issues that, as in the case of animal experimentation, bring undeniable advantages to our society while carrying highly controversial moral implications. However, despite the considerable social and scientific relevance of the use of animal models in biomedical research, there is a scarcity of scholarly literature exploring the topic from a pedagogical standpoint. The case study presented in this paper aims to investigate the effectiveness of role play simulation in promoting critical understanding of the use of animal models in biomedical research and its ethical implications. A simulation was set up in which first year undergraduate students took the role of delegates to a conference purportedly organised by the United Nations Ethics Office. The simulation included two electronic voting sessions, an open debate, and a keynote lecture. Post-session feedback indicated that most students found the simulation more engaging than a conventional lecture. A comparison of self-assessment questionnaires compiled at the start and at the end of the session indicated that students’ understanding of, and confidence in, the topic of animal experimentation had considerably increased after taking part in the simulation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-55
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Ethics Education
Issue number1
Early online date12 Sept 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2019


  • animal experimentation
  • role play simulation
  • bioethics pedagogy
  • animal models
  • animal testing
  • biomedical research


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