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Teacher beliefs about the aetiology of individual differences in educationally relevant traits, and the relevance of behavioural genetics to education

Crosswaite , Madeline Lucy (2018) Teacher beliefs about the aetiology of individual differences in educationally relevant traits, and the relevance of behavioural genetics to education. PhD thesis, University of York.

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Background Despite a large body of research exploring the influence of genetic and environmental factors on educationally relevant traits, few studies have explored teachers’ beliefs about, or knowledge of, developments in behavioural genetics related to education. Aims The studies presented in this thesis aimed to describe the beliefs and knowledge of UK teachers about behavioural genetics and its relevance to education, and explore group differences. The research also aimed to begin to establish teacher opinions on receiving training in behavioural genetics. Perceptions of the general public regarding the relevance of genetics to education was also explored. Methods Data was gathered from a representative sample of UK schools – this included in the mainstream (n=406) and alternative provision (n=103). The general public sample comprised of n=800 online comments on a Guardian news article. An online questionnaire was used to gather teacher data. Demographic data and information on participants’ beliefs about the relative influence of nature and nurture on cognitive ability/behavioural traits; knowledge of behavioural genetics; openness to genetic research in education; mindset and further training was collected. Data was analysed using a range of quantitative statistical methods. Content analysis was used to analyse data from the general public (online newspaper comments). Results Teachers perceived genetic and environmental factors as equally important influences on cognitive ability, although for behaviour problems the AP teachers (mainstream not asked) tended to favour environmental explanations. Teachers in the mainstream tended towards a growth mindset. Knowledge about behavioural genetics was low, but openness to learning more about genetics was high. Some statistically significant differences were observed between groups. The sample of members of the public mainly disagreed with promoting genetics in education and some clear misconceptions and hostilities towards the topic emerged. Conclusions Although teachers have a limited knowledge of behavioural genetics, they are open to learning more.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Related URLs:
Academic Units: The University of York > Department of Education (York)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.778861
Depositing User: Miss Madeline Lucy Crosswaite
Date Deposited: 04 Jun 2019 13:26
Last Modified: 19 Feb 2020 13:08
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/23142

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