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article imageNature vs nurture debate for exam grades

By Tim Sandle     Dec 21, 2013 in Science
London - A child’s genetics influences high school exam results more than than school or family environment, according to a new study.
A study published this week in the journal PLOS ONE concludes that genetics accounts for some 58 percent of the variation in test scores of more than 11,000 high school students. The findings relate to a study conducted in the U.K. for students aged sixteen, who were sitting GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education) examinations.
In contrasts, the students’ school environment and home life were said to account for only 36 percent of the variation. With the nature vs nurture debate, this divided into a 60:40 split.
How did the researchers arrive at this conclusion? Robert Plomin, an expert in behavioral genetics who led the study at King’s College London told The Guardian: "Some children find it easier to learn than others do, and I think it’s appetite as much as aptitude. There is a motivation, maybe because you like to do what you are good at."
To reach this point, the research team the test scores of identical twins, who share 100 percent of their genes, to non-identical twins, who share only half their genetic material. The researchers suggest that because schools aim to give an equal education to all children, genetic differences impacting educational success are apparent.
Twin studies are often controversial and this particular study has come in for some criticism. Professor of science education Michael Reiss of the Institute of Education in London argued that knowing the role of genetics in academic is not particularly helpful. He told The Guardian that: “Some people have to wear glasses because of genetic defects, and other people wear them for reasons that have nothing to do with genetics. As long as you are wearing glasses in school, it doesn’t matter at all. The genetics is utterly irrelevant.”
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