Scrutinizing the teacher effect using twin methodology

Kovas, Yulia; Tick, B. and Plomin, R.. 2011. Scrutinizing the teacher effect using twin methodology. Behavior Genetics, ISSN 0001-8244 [Article]

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It is commonly believed that children’s academic success depends on their teachers to a large extent. In the popular press, as well as in lay discussions, teachers are often blamed for lack of understanding or motivation, or praised for facilitating them. The Teacher Effect is viewed as an overall effect on all children in the class, so that having the same teacher should increase similarity among the children in achievement in the school subject taught by that teacher. Here we report a systematic investigation of the Teacher Effect in the large population-based Twin Early Development Study (TEDS), conducted in the UK. We applied the standard Twin Methodology, comparing MZ and DZ twins’ similarity for multiple academically-relevant phenotypes, including cognitive ability, school achievement, and motivational factors collected at 5 assessment points across 7 years of school (age 7 to age 14). These analyses were conducted with an additional comparison - between twins taught by the same teacher vs. those taught by different teachers, estimating the contribution of teachers to the similarity between twins across different ages and different phenotypes. The results showed that the Teacher Effect is not static and varies across ages and phenotypes (e.g., achievement in a subject vs. enjoyment of the subject), as well as a function of the educational setting (e.g., standardized vs. variable curricula). We discuss the absence of the teacher effect for some phenotypes (i.e., no increased similarity for the twins taught by the same teacher) in terms of possible non-shared effects of the teacher, as well as possible teacher effects that do not contribute to the population variance. The results of this systematic investigation have important implications for conceptualizing the Teacher Effect.

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8 September 2011Published

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10 Aug 2017 15:52

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10 Aug 2017 15:52

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