February 9, 2011

Genes & Education

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- New research shows that a student's genes may affect how well they take advantage of educational opportunities.

Scientists in the United States and the United Kingdom examined data from 4,000 twins from the Twins Early Development Study. They found that the methods students use to judge the effectiveness of schools, is somewhat influenced by their genetic factors.

The authors say environmental factors can be just as important as genetic factors when it comes to a child's performance in school. However, the study results also suggest that children bring characteristics to the classroom that influence how well they will take advantage of the quality.

"Consider a classroom full of students being taught by the same teacher. Some children will improve more than other children, even though their educational experience at school is the same," Dr. Claire Haworth, a lecturer at the King's IoP and lead author of the study was quoted as saying.

Researchers hope this genetic perspective on education will help people put aside the notion that children are just passive recipients of knowledge. Instead the authors hope the research will encourage people to think of children as active learners who select and create their own education partly on the basis of their genetic propensities. The research also pushes for more personalized education that focuses on a child's individual strengths and weaknesses.

The study was funded by the Medical Research Council, and conducted by scientists at the MRC Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre, King's IoP, and the University of New Mexico.

SOURCE: PLoS ONE , February 2, 2011