Twin Research and Human Genetics

Articles

Clones in the Classroom: A Daily Diary Study of the Nonshared Environmental Relationship Between Monozygotic Twin Differences in School Experience and Achievement

Kathryn Asburya1 c1, David Almeidaa2, Jacob Hibela3, Nicole Harlaara4 and Robert Plomina5

a1 Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre, King's College London, United Kingdom. k.asbury@iop.kcl.ac.uk

a2 Department of Human Development and Family Studies, Pennsylvania State University, United States of America.

a3 Department of Sociology, Pennsylvania State University, United States of America.

a4 Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre, King's College London, United Kingdom.

a5 Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre, King's College London, United Kingdom.

Abstract

Do genetically identical children experience the same classroom differently? Are nonshared classroom experiences associated with differences in achievement? We designed a telephone diary measure which we administered every school day for 2 weeks to 122 10-year-olds in 61 monozygotic (MZ) twin pairs. Each pair shared genes, a classroom, peers and a teacher. We found that MZ twins did experience their classrooms differently (rMZ < 0.65 for all measures of classroom experience). Furthermore, MZ differences in peer problems were significantly associated with MZ differences in Mathematics achievement (ES = 8%); differences in positivity about school were significantly associated with differences in Mathematics (ES = 15%) and Science (ES = 8%) achievement; and differences in ‘flow’ in Science lessons were associated with differences in Science achievement (ES = 12%). In a multiple regression analysis, MZ differences in positivity about school significantly predicted MZ differences in Mathematics achievement (R2 = 0.16, p < .01) and MZ differences in ‘flow’ in Science significantly predicted MZ differences in Science achievement (R2 = 0.10, p < .05). These results indicate that MZ twins experience the classroom differently and that differences in their experience are associated with differences in their achievement.

(Received April 24 2008)

(Accepted September 23 2008)

Keywords

  • Nonshared environment;
  • diary study;
  • classroom environment;
  • academic achievement;
  • monozygotic twins

Correspondence:

c1 Address for correspondence: Dr Kathryn Asbury, PO Box 83, SGDP Centre, Institute of Psychiatry, De Crespigny Park, London SE5 8AF, UK.

Metrics