Effects of animal-assisted activities with guinea pigs in the primary school classroom

O'Haire, Marguerite E., McKenzie, Samantha J., McCune, Sandra and Slaughter, Virginia (2013) Effects of animal-assisted activities with guinea pigs in the primary school classroom. Anthrozoos, 26 3: 445-458. doi:10.2752/175303713X13697429463835


Author O'Haire, Marguerite E.
McKenzie, Samantha J.
McCune, Sandra
Slaughter, Virginia
Title Effects of animal-assisted activities with guinea pigs in the primary school classroom
Journal name Anthrozoos   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0892-7936
1753-0377
Publication date 2013-09-01
Year available 2013
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.2752/175303713X13697429463835
Open Access Status PMC
Volume 26
Issue 3
Start page 445
End page 458
Total pages 14
Place of publication London, United Kingdom
Publisher Bloomsbury Publishing plc
Language eng
Abstract This study investigated the effects of a classroom-based animal-assisted activities (AAA) program with guinea pigs on the social functioning of primary school children. We hypothesized that participants in the experimental condition (n = 64), compared with a waitlist control group (n = 64), would demonstrate improvements in social functioning following the program. Parents and teachers used the Social Skills Rating System (SSRS) to evaluate the social skills and problem behaviors of 128 participating children (age range = 4.8 to 12.7 years) before and after an 8-week period. Teachers also rated academic competence at both time points. Children who participated in the MA program demonstrated significantly greater improvements in social functioning than their control group peers, as defined by greater increases in social skills (teacher SSRS) and decreases in problem behaviors (parent and teacher SSRS). There were no significant differences between the groups in academic competence. AAA participants demonstrated significant increases in social skills and decreases in problem behaviors from pre- to post-program on the teacher version of the SSRS. Control group participants did not show significant changes on these measures. These findings suggest that an MA program with guinea pigs may be a feasible addition to the primary school classroom in order to improve social functioning. Further component analysis will be necessary to determine whether the animal is the active ingredient in AAA programs of this nature.
Formatted abstract
This study investigated the effects of a classroom-based animalassisted activities (AAA) program with guinea pigs on the social functioning of primary school children. We hypothesized that participants in the experimental condition (n = 64), compared with a waitlist control group (n = 64), would demonstrate improvements in social functioning following the program. parents and teachers used the Social Skills Rating System (SSRS) to evaluate the social skills and problem behaviors of 128 participating children (age range = 4.8 to 12.7 years) before and after an 8-week period. Teachers also rated academic competence at both time points. Children who participated in the AAA program demonstrated significantly greater improvements in social functioning than their control group peers, as defined by greater increases in social skills (teacher SSRS) and decreases in problem behaviors (parent and teacher SSRS). There were no significant differences between the groups in academic competence. AAA participants demonstrated significant increases in social skills and decreases in problem behaviors from pre- to post-program on the teacher version of the SSRS. Control group participants did not show significant changes on these measures. These findings suggest that an AAA program with guinea pigs may be a feasible addition to the primary school classroom in order to improve social functioning. Further component analysis will be necessary to determine whether the animal is the active ingredient in AAA programs of this nature.
Keyword Animal assisted intervention
Children
Classroom pets
Guinea Pigs
Social Interactions
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Grant ID R03HD070683
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2014 Collection
School of Public Health Publications
School of Psychology Publications
 
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