My story of education and research within Anthrozoology

Senast ändrad: 16 december 2022

Docentföreläsning med Maria Andersson i ämnet biologi med inriktning antrozoologi med titeln My story of education and research within Anthrozoology.

Quality in both education and research is important, and I would like to emphasize that the scientific background in how we teach and educate is equally important as the scientific background in research. In this presentation, I will include both areas, since they both define me as a docent at SLU.

Pedagogic research and mainly the research about how students learn is by far the most important knowledge to have, being a teacher within higher education. I would like to clearly stress that you should be as updated in this area of learning, as you are in your own scientific field and there are studies showing the importance of that (Marsch & Hattie, 2002; Jenkins, 2005). We know that motivation is a key to learning, and we know a lot about the factors that increase motivation. Problem based learning is one strategy that clearly motivates students. To use real based problems from the world where the student will work is one of the areas where I have a lot of experience and expertise (Sungur & Tekkaya, 2006). We also know how important it is to get positive and constructive feedback. There are studies showing that a positive leadership creates better functioning work environments and more efficient students and to use humor as a barrier braking strategy (Garner, 2006).

My research outline has often been initiated in different student projects, both on bachelor and master level. One of the first larger projects, was concerning cat welfare in shelters in Sweden. It was clear that an increasing number of abandoned cats ends up in shelters in Sweden, which might be a result of lack of knowledge about cat behaviour and welfare. The first part in the project was a survey sent to all cat shelters in Sweden and resulted in one paper (Eriksson, et al., 2009). Following that, my first PhD student Elin Hirsch was working with cat behavior and welfare in shelters in US, and in a research facility in Wageningen. The aim was to study behavior and welfare in different shelters, and also to study group housed cats under stable conditions resulting in one paper (Hirsch et al., 2014). Another important research area has been the welfare of zoo animals, and how the housing conditions affect animals in zoos. The aim with the project was to find factors behind reproductive failures in zoos, since captive breeding is considered an important tool for maintaining biodiversity and preserve the genetic pool. The first part ended in a study on red panda (Eriksson et al, 2010), where we compared housing conditions in a number of zoos over the world. At the moment, my large project (funded by Formas) is concerning loading and unloading of pigs at slaughter. The aim is to study both pigs and transporters, since this is a stressful situation for both. We will investigate the effects of loading and unloading on pig welfare, human wellbeing and work effectiveness of different methods and strategies, and further more study if the influence of education and training of stockpersons has an impact on the effectiveness of loading and unloading.

My vision of future research is within the area of Anthrozoology. My experience of the clear lack of knowledge among people about animals, about how to handle animals, about how to care for animals has truly struck my mind. My first upcoming project is Learning at the Zoo. The aim with this project is to improve animal welfare and increase the awareness among people concerning animal welfare, conservation, biodiversity and sustainable development by using the zoo as a learning platform tool. My second upcoming project are related to the Expectations, Respect and Attitudes to animals. I have together with colleagues started to identify the framework in this area, to be able to see where there are gaps in knowledge. We know that animal owners have many bizarre expectations and attitudes of their animals, and we know that many organizations stress the importance of respect for animals. My third upcoming project relates to what children learn in school in relation to animal behavior, animal welfare and legislation. I have started, together with a student and colleagues, to address this question with an open questionnaire to biology teachers.

My vision of the future projects have one specific thing in common, and that is the approach of sustainability and environmental awareness. If we are to use animals for different purposes, we have to be clever to do that in an upright ethical and sustainable way, with respect for both animals and humans.


Eriksson, P, Loberg, J & Andersson, M. 2009. A survey of cat shelters in Sweden. Animal

Welfare, 18:283-288.

Eriksson, P, Zidar, J, White, D, Westander, J & Andersson, M. 2009. Current husbandry of

red pandas (Ailurus fulgens) in zoos. Animal Welfare. 29 : 1–9

Hirsch EN, Andersson M and Loberg J. Swedish cat shelters: a descriptive survey of husbandry practices, routines and management. Animal Welfare 2014; 23: 411-421.

Garner. R.L.2006. Humor in Pedagogy: How Ha-Ha can Lead to Aha!, College Teaching. 54:1, 177-180

Hmelo-Silver, C.E. 2004. Problem-based learning: What and How do students learn? Educational Psychology review. 16:235-266.

Jenkins, A. 2005. Strategies for linking teaching and research. Academy Exchange. (2): 12-14.

Marsh, H. W. & Hattie, J. 2002. The relation between research productivity and teaching effectiveness. The Journal of Higher Education. 73(5): 603-641.

Sungur, S. & Tekkaya, C. 2006. Effects of problem-based learning and traditional instruction on self-regulated learning. The journal of educational research. 99:307-317.