UK Twins Study: Ease of Learning is Inherited

Is it possible that education could be inherited?

In a UK study of 13,306 twins at age 16, titled Twins Early Development Study (TEDS), the research assessed a range of cognitive and non-cognitive measures of each twin and the researchers also had access to their General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) scores. Catherine Griffin of the Science World Report writes that identical twins share 100% of their genes, while fraternal twins share 50%. When twins share the same environment, scientists are able to compare twins to estimate the contribution of genetic and environmental factors.

“Previous work has already established that educational achievement is heritable,” said Eva Krapohl, one of the researchers, in a news release. “In this study, we wanted to find out why that is. What our study shows is that the heritability of educational achievement is much more than just intelligence-it is the combination of many traits which are all heritable to different extents.”

Researchers were able to establish that the inheritability of the GCSE scores was 62%, individual traits were 35% to 58% inheritable, and intelligence is the most highly inheritable trait. Nothing is set in stone, but children differ in how easy they find learning and in how much they enjoy learning, and many of these differences are genetic.

So, this means that children actively participate in selecting, modifying, and creating experiences that match their genetic predispositions, which in genetics is called “gene-environment correlation”, say Eva Krapohl & Kaili Rimfeld in an article for Quartz. In educational circles, this adds support to the “personalized learning” theory. Yes, schools, parents, teachers all play a part in a child’s education, but it is true that one-size does not fit all.

In the study, 83 scales were combined into nine domains: intelligence, self-efficacy, personality, well-being, home environment, school environment, health, parent-reported behavior problems, and child-reported behavior problems, according to a description of the study on the Kings College London website.

Lee Thompson, a psychologist in Cleveland, Ohio, says that this study may become a classic piece of research, says Dino Lirios reporting for China Topix. It may just lead to better ways for teaching children.

Analytical psychologist, Carl Jung, though controversial, did develop a theory of psychological types in terms of various personality types. His theory led to the development of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. There are many assessment tools available to identify various personality types and temperaments, according to  Tena B. Crews, Sradha Narendra Sheth, and Tamlyn M. Horne in their article published on EducauseReviewOnline. Their study used the True Colors personal assessment inventory. The author of the test, Don Lowry, believed:

 “…successful people know who they are and what their True Colors are and once they understand their values and needs, it would become easier for them to perform their best in every area of life.”

Crews says that teachers who take time to assess their students and then make every effort to diversify their teaching strategies will find that students are more engaged in the learning process, are able to understand and retain more information, and will exhibit impressive results in their work.