Families and schools have a substantial influence on whether young people go to university but no effect on how well students perform once they get there, according to the first study of genetic and environmental influences on higher education.
Researchers at King’s College London studied 3,000 pairs of identical and non-identical twins and 3,000 other people in the UK, in an effort to disentangle the factors that determine university enrolment and performance. Results were published in the journal Scientific Reports.
伦敦国王学院(King's College London)的研究人员对英国3000对同卵和异卵双胞胎、以及另外3000人进行了研究，试图找到是哪些因素决定一个人是否进入大学和入学后的学业表现。该研究结果发表在《科学报告》(Scientific Reports)杂志上。
① disentangle [.dɪsɪn'tæŋɡ(ə)l] v. 理顺；使解脱；使脱出；使摆脱
例句：Clever researchers can disentangle some of these effects.
Genetic factors account for 51 per cent of differences between school leavers in whether or not they go on to university. What the researchers call “shared environment” — mainly school and family background — accounts for 36 per cent, while “non-shared environment”, reflecting individual circumstances, contributes the remaining 13 per cent.
Although the King’s study did not look specifically at students’ socio-economic background, the findings support the view that teenagers from poor and disadvantaged families are less likely than their more privileged counterparts to proceed to a university education for which their genes are well suited. Researchers suggested that admissions policies should take more account of these social factors into account.
“You would expect heritability — the genetic influence — to increase in a fairer and more equitable society,” said Emily Smith-Woolley, one member of the research team at King’s Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience
Once someone gets to university, the contribution of “shared environment” declines to less than 1 per cent. Achievement, measured by the student’s final degree class, is determined 46 per cent by genetics and 53 per cent by non-shared or individual environment.
“Unlike secondary school, where students tend to share educational experiences, university provides young people with greater opportunity to be independent and to carve out their interests based on their natural abilities and aptitudes,” said Ziada Ayorech, another King’s researcher.
Apart from studying the overall contribution of genes to educational achievement, scientists are beginning to identify some of the thousands of specific DNA variations responsible. The latest — and still unpublished — research suggests that up to 15 per cent of variance in achievement may be predictable through a “polygenic score” based on detailed DNA analysis, said Dr Smith-Woolley. But science is still a long way from producing a useful genetic test for guiding young people to the best educational options.