King’s College London study: Education achievement reflects many genetically influenced traits

13 Oct

Talking about the influence of genetics and learning is a touchy subject. The 1994 Bell Curve by Herrnstein and Murray started a wild fire. http://www.princeton.edu/~achaney/tmve/wiki100k/docs/The_Bell_Curve.html The King’s College focused on:

The high heritability of exam grades reflects many genetically influenced traits such as personality, behavior problems, and self-efficacy and not just intelligence. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/10/141006152151.htm

The study deals with the effect of genetics on emotional intelligence which is very important to achievement.

Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., and Melinda Smith, M.A. wrote the excellent article, Emotional Intelligence (EQ) for HELPGUIDE.Org.

What is emotional intelligence?
Emotional intelligence (EQ) is the ability to identify, use, understand, and manage emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges, and diffuse conflict. Emotional intelligence impacts many different aspects of your daily life, such as the way you behave and the way you interact with others…. http://www.helpguide.org/mental/eq5_raising_emotional_intelligence.htm

Education achievement requires not only intelligence, but motivation, resilience, and conflict resolution.

Science Daily reported in the article, Why is educational achievement heritable?

New research, led by King’s College London finds that the high heritability of exam grades reflects many genetically influenced traits such as personality, behaviour problems, and self-efficacy and not just intelligence.

The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), looked at 13,306 twins at age 16 who were part of the Medical Research Council (MRC) funded UK Twins Early Development Study (TEDS). The twins were assessed on a range of cognitive and non-cognitive measures, and the researchers had access to their GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education) scores.

In total, 83 scales were condensed into nine domains: intelligence, self-efficacy (confidence in one’s own academic ability), personality, well-being, home environment, school environment, health, parent-reported behaviour problems and child reported behaviour problems.

Identical twins share 100% of their genes, and non-identical twins (just as any other siblings) share 50% of the genes that vary between people. Twin pairs share the same environment (family, schools, teachers etc). By comparing identical and non-identical twins, the researchers were able to estimate the relative contributions of genetic and environmental factors. So, if overall, identical twins are more similar on a particular trait than non-identical twins, the differences between the two groups are due to genetics, rather than environment.

Eva Krapohl, joint first author of the study, from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s, says: “Previous work has already established that educational achievement is heritable. 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.

“It is important to point out that heritability does not mean that anything is set in stone. It simply means that children differ in how easy and enjoyable they find learning and that much of these differences are influenced by genetics.”

The researchers found that the heritability of GCSE scores was 62%. Individual traits were between 35% and 58% heritable, with intelligence being the most highly heritable. Together, the nine domains accounted for 75% of the heritability of GCSE scores.

Heritability is a population statistic which does not provide any information at an individual level. It describes the extent to which differences between children can be ascribed to DNA differences, on average, in a particular population at a particular time…. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/10/141006152151.htm

Citation:

Why is educational achievement heritable?
Date: October 6, 2014

Source: King’s College London
Summary:
The high heritability of exam grades reflects many genetically influenced traits such as personality, behavior problems, and self-efficacy and not just intelligence. The study looked at 13,306 twins at age 16 . The twins were assessed on a range of cognitive and non-cognitive measures, and the researchers had access to their GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education) scores.
The high heritability of educational achievement reflects many genetically influenced traits, not just intelligence
1. Eva Krapohla,1,
2. Kaili Rimfelda,1,
3. Nicholas G. Shakeshafta,
4. Maciej Trzaskowskia,
5. Andrew McMillana,
6. Jean-Baptiste Pingaulta,b,
7. Kathryn Asburyc,
8. Nicole Harlaard,
9. Yulia Kovasa,e,f,
10. Philip S. Daleg, and
11. Robert Plomina,2
Significance
Differences among children in educational achievement are highly heritable from the early school years until the end of compulsory education at age 16, when UK students are assessed nationwide with standard achievement tests [General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE)]. Genetic research has shown that intelligence makes a major contribution to the heritability of educational achievement. However, we show that other broad domains of behavior such as personality and psychopathology also account for genetic influence on GCSE scores beyond that predicted by intelligence. Together with intelligence, these domains account for 75% of the heritability of GCSE scores. These results underline the importance of genetics in educational achievement and its correlates. The results also support the trend in education toward personalized learning.
Abstract
Because educational achievement at the end of compulsory schooling represents a major tipping point in life, understanding its causes and correlates is important for individual children, their families, and society. Here we identify the general ingredients of educational achievement using a multivariate design that goes beyond intelligence to consider a wide range of predictors, such as self-efficacy, personality, and behavior problems, to assess their independent and joint contributions to educational achievement. We use a genetically sensitive design to address the question of why educational achievement is so highly heritable. We focus on the results of a United Kingdom-wide examination, the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE), which is administered at the end of compulsory education at age 16. GCSE scores were obtained for 13,306 twins at age 16, whom we also assessed contemporaneously on 83 scales that were condensed to nine broad psychological domains, including intelligence, self-efficacy, personality, well-being, and behavior problems. The mean of GCSE core subjects (English, mathematics, science) is more heritable (62%) than the nine predictor domains (35–58%). Each of the domains correlates significantly with GCSE results, and these correlations are largely mediated genetically. The main finding is that, although intelligence accounts for more of the heritability of GCSE than any other single domain, the other domains collectively account for about as much GCSE heritability as intelligence. Together with intelligence, these domains account for 75% of the heritability of GCSE. We conclude that the high heritability of educational achievement reflects many genetically influenced traits, not just intelligence….

Here is the press release from King’s College:

News
Why is educational achievement heritable?
Posted on 06/10/2014
Exams
New research, led by King’s College London finds that the high heritability of exam grades reflects many genetically influenced traits such as personality, behaviour problems, and self-efficacy and not just intelligence.
The study, published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), looked at 13,306 twins at age 16 who were part of the Medical Research Council (MRC) funded UK TEDS | The Twins Early Development Study (TEDS). The twins were assessed on a range of cognitive and non-cognitive measures, and the researchers had access to their GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education) scores.
In total, 83 scales were condensed into nine domains: intelligence, self-efficacy (confidence in one’s own academic ability), personality, well-being, home environment, school environment, health, parent-reported behaviour problems and child reported behaviour problems.
Identical twins share 100% of their genes, and non-identical twins (just as any other siblings) share 50% of the genes that vary between people. Twin pairs share the same environment (family, schools, teachers etc). By comparing identical and non-identical twins, the researchers were able to estimate the relative contributions of genetic and environmental factors. So, if overall, identical twins are more similar on a particular trait than non-identical twins, the differences between the two groups are due to genetics, rather than environment.
Eva Krapohl, joint first author of the study, from the MRC Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry (SGDP) Centre at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s, says: “Previous work has already established that educational achievement is heritable. 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.
“It is important to point out that heritability does not mean that anything is set in stone. It simply means that children differ in how easy and enjoyable they find learning and that much of these differences are influenced by genetics.”
The researchers found that the heritability of GCSE scores was 62%. Individual traits were between 35% and 58% heritable, with intelligence being the most highly heritable. Together, the nine domains accounted for 75% of the heritability of GCSE scores.
Heritability is a population statistic which does not provide any information at an individual level. It describes the extent to which differences between children can be ascribed to DNA differences, on average, in a particular population at a particular time.
Kaili Rimfeld, joint-lead author, also from the IoPPN at King’s says: “No policy implications necessarily follow from finding that genetics differences influence educational achievement, because policy depends on values and knowledge. However, our findings support the idea that a more personalized approach to learning may be more successful than a one size fits all approach. Finding that educational achievement is heritable certainly does not mean that teachers, parents or schools aren’t important. Education is more than what happens to a child passively; children are active participants in selecting, modifying, and creating their experiences – much of which is linked to their genetic propensities, known in genetics as genotype–environment correlation.”
TEDS is supported by the UK Medical Research Council with additional funding from the National Institutes of Health.
Paper reference: Krapohl, E. et al. “The high heritability of educational achievement reflects many genetically influenced traits, not just intelligence” published in PNAS.
For further information, please contact Seil Collins, Press Officer, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s College London seil.collins@kcl.ac.uk / (+44) 0207 848 5377

Teachers and schools have been made TOTALLY responsible for the education outcome of the children, many of whom come to school not ready to learn and who reside in families that for a variety of reasons cannot support their education. All children are capable of learning, but a one-size-fits-all approach does not serve all children well. Different populations of children will require different strategies and some children will require remedial help, early intervention, and family support to achieve their education goals. https://drwilda.com/2012/02/11/3rd-world-america-money-changes-everything/

ALL children have a right to a good basic education.

Resources:
The Global Creativity Index http://www.theatlanticcities.com/jobs-and-economy/2011/10/global-creativity-index/229/

The Rise of the Creative Class
http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2001/0205.florida.html

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One Response to “King’s College London study: Education achievement reflects many genetically influenced traits”

  1. gettingwell4 May 17, 2015 at 5:49 am #

    The study’s “genetic reasons” term doesn’t mean that the researchers actually took genetic samples. From one news article: “Identical twins share 100 percent of their genes while non-identical twins share just 50 percent of their genes. Because these sets of twins share the same environment, the scientists were able to compare identical and non-identical twins to estimate the relative contributions of genetic and environmental factors.”

    This estimating method produced an artificial divide between genetic and environmental factors. Identical twins start out sharing 100% of their genes, but then their genes become expressed differently – often because of environmental factors – to produce unique individuals even before birth. The sets of identical twins were definitely not the 100% same genetic makeup between themselves at age 16 as they were at conception, and that assumption was the foundation of the estimating method.

    I feel that the researchers didn’t prove their case that “genetic reasons” were a causal factor to the stated extent. Although their estimating method’s numbers may have indicated that the above exercise was valid, that didn’t necessarily mean that the method’s results reflected the reality of genetic and epigenetic influences on the subjects. Better methods of estimating “the relative contributions of genetic and environmental factors” are available with genetic sampling.

    The funniest thing I saw in the study’s news coverage was one where someone argued that the researchers were wrong and that they needed educational psychologists on their staff to interpret the data. Guess the profession of the arguer!

    http://surfaceyourrealself.com/2015/05/16/dividing-genetic-and-environmental-factors-when-assessing-educational-achievement-surfaceyourrealself/

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