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Using qualitative methods, we observed a series of fetal pig dissection sessions in a high school biology course and interviewed 17 students in the class. The students' responses to dissection varied considerably. Most felt that dissection was a positive experience, but a substantial minority viewed it primarily in negative terms. Almost all the students had some ambivalence about aspects of the fetal pig lab and believed that alternatives should be provided for students who object to the practice. We argue that dissection remains a viable educational tool but should be an optional rather than compulsory component of the curriculum.


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