Thursday, June 16, 2016
Genes and Education: Scientists say that up to 80% of students’ choices of A-level subjects is down to genetic influence with environmental factors such as home life, accounting for 23% of the choice at most
Scientists have found that 50-80% of subject choice is due to genetic influences. When the subjects were grouped into humanities and science, mathematics, engineering or technology (Stem) categories, the findings revealed that heritability was 50% and 60% respectively. By contrast, shared environmental factors such as family experiences had far less clout, accounting for 18% of subject choice for the humanities, and 23% of subject choice for Stem A-levels. The scientists also discovered that achievement was strongly influenced by genetics, with 59% of A-level performance found to be heritable, while shared environmental factors only explained 7% of the variation in performance. By contrast, the choice to study for A-levels at all was almost equally split between genetic and environmental factors at 44% and 47% respectively. While the specific genes linked to such influence have not been found, it is thought that thousands of tiny differences in an individual’s DNA each contribute to a very small degree.