Genetically Informative Study Into Early Child Development


The purpose of the IVF project is to study the effect of genetic, pre- and postnatal environmental factors on child health and mental development. Data on biological (DNA, trace elements), socio-emotional and physical characteristics of parents and children are collected prospectively starting from pregnancy. The project combines the traditional longitudinal method with a novel design based on families in which children were conceived through in vitro fertilisation (IVF). Children conceived by homologous IVF, egg donation, sperm donation, embryo donation and surrogacy differ in the extent to which they share genes with their parents. By employing an IVF design it is possible to disentangle not only the relative effects of genetic and environmental factors on development, but to parse the environment into prenatal and postnatal components. We also aim to identify specific genetic polymorphisms and describe the epigenetic processes involved in the development of cognitive, emotional and behavioural characteristics of children.

Multi-cohort Investigations into Learning and Educational Success project



Teacher and Classroom Effect Project

Longitudinal research into teacher/classroom effects are limited to date and neglect the contribution of non-cognitive factors. This study investigates teacher/classroom effects on maths achievement across several points of the academic year. Using a cross-cultural approach, it examines the question of whether or not there is meaningful variation in teachers/classes/schools that relates to variation in maths performance in Russia and the UK. To compare different classrooms for the same students, we explore maths in the context of maths learning and maths in the context of geography learning. Geography has similar aspects to maths in terms of spatial and numerical content but is perceived and taught differently to maths.

Data were collected from 622 secondary school students aged 11-12 years from 3 urban mixed ability schools and their teachers. Two schools were in the UK and one school was in Russia. Assessments took place across one academic year with a final wave at the start of the next year, 5 assessments in the UK and 3 in Russia. School achievement data were also collected.

During their maths lesson, participants completed a range of activities and self-report questionnaires. Maths and geography performance were assessed along with non-cognitive factors. Students were also asked about their maths and geography classroom environments. Their teachers also completed a range of self-report measures in relation to non-cognitive factors and job satisfaction.

The International Genetic Literacy and Attitudes Study

This project employs a variety of methods to explore the current level of understanding of genetics and genetic research across populations. Fears and concerns about genetics will also be evaluated so that justified and unjustified concerns can be separated and addressed accordingly. A comprehensive survey is already being developed to this end, and this will be disseminated to some 5000 participants stratified by country, age, occupation and other pertinent demographics. Focus groups will also be held with selected invitees. With the understanding gained from this empirical evaluation, evidence-based learning and teaching materials will be developed and evaluated to improve public engagement in this vital and changing area of science and society. In parallel to this is “The Accessible Genetics Consortium”, an international and concerted effort by genetics researchers to make genetics accessible to as broad an audience as possible. In addition to the website, TAGC also runs CPD training for teachers as well as the very popular public engagement events: “Genes & Tonic.”

Genetically Informative Investigation of Creativity Across Domains and Cultures project

Creativity is a prerequisite for innovations which are essential capital in modern, technological societies. This project is taking an ambitious aim by investigating creativity comprehensively in many levels. We look for answers to the structure of creativity and its links to intelligence and personality. These are important topics that have implications for education. For example, would exporting Art & Design teaching pedagogies to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) enhance creativity in these fields? Or perhaps even more importantly, is creativity similar in these two educational areas? Results from this research are useful for talent selection and development also in work environments. InLab is providing an excellent platform for this interdisciplinary project and among many other methods, we will include behavioural genetic analyses to evaluate genetic influences on several aspects of creativity. To make this project even more exciting, we will conduct cross-cultural investigations on creativity.