Behaviour 2019
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Using Goldfish to Teach Psychology of Learning Principles
Lindsay R. Mehrkam, Chanell Singletary-Eskridge, Laura Swinyer. Monmouth University , West Long Branch, New Jersey, United States

This study assessed whether goldfish were a successful animal model to demonstrate basic learning principles in an undergraduate psychology of learning course. Goldfish (N = 8) representing various breeds served as subjects for this study. The study used a single-subjects design over a series of 12 hands-on labs in which students worked in small groups throughout the semester. Students (N = 35) were required meet IACUC training standards by demonstrating their knowledge of fish species-typical behavior and husbandry care of goldfish before participating in the labs. In a series of 12 labs, students conducted various learning procedures with their goldfish and collected live data on goldfish demonstrated successful habituation, counterconditioning, higher-order conditioning as well as completing a preference assessment and reinforcer assessment, shaping, and cognitive bias testing. These findings demonstrate that learning concepts can be applied to goldfish to provide undergraduate students with hands-on educational activities in the classroom and provides data showing that goldfish may be utilized as an animal model to explain these basic learning principles.