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Bridging the Gap Between Genomics and Education


Stephen A. Petrill, Department of Human Development and Family Science, The Ohio State University, 1787 Neil Avenue, Columbus, OH 43210; e-mail:


ABSTRACT— Despite several decades of research suggesting the importance of both genetic and environmental factors, these findings are not well integrated into the larger educational literature. Following a discussion of quantitative and molecular genetic methods, this article reviews behavioral genetic findings related to cognitive and academic skills. This literature suggests that (a) the relative importance of genes and environments varies developmentally; (b) genetics, and to a lesser extend the environment, account for a substantial portion of the covariance within and across academic domains; and (c) some forms of disability are qualitatively different from the population, whereas others constitute the lower end of a continuum of ability. Following a discussion of the strengths and limitations of current behavioral genetic research and intervention research, we then discuss the ways in which understanding gene–environment interplay can be used to develop better definitions of learning impairment and better explain the substantial variability in response to intervention.