Genetics and education: Recent developments in the context of an ugly history and an uncertain future

Colloquium | April 9 | 4-5:30 p.m. | 2515 Tolman Hall

 Ben Domingue, Stanford Graduate School of Education, Stanford University; Institute of Behavioral Science, University of Colorado Boulder

 Graduate School of Education

Driven by our recent mapping of the human genome, genetics research is increasingly prominent and is likely to re-intersect with education research. I begin by giving background on the current state of the art regarding methods for linking genotype to phenotype, focusing specifically on molecular genetics and genome-wide association studies. I emphasize both what genetic studies of educational attainment and related traits have found as well as the challenges to such lines of inquiry raised by the fact that education is a complex social process. This talk is meant to encourage additional collaboration between those in the social and biological sciences; open conversation among policy makers, educators, and researchers will prove critical for pushing this strand of research in a direction that prioritizes broadly-shared opportunities for human flourishing.

Ben Domingue is an assistant professor in the Graduate School of Education at Stanford University. He is interested in how student outcomes are leveraged to inform our understanding of student learning, teacher performance, and the efficacy of other programs. He has a particular interest in the technical issues that make it challenging to draw simple inferences from such student outcomes. While not analyzing item response data, he may be found thinking about the implications for social science of the sudden increase in our capacity to measure human DNA and the promise and pitfalls associated with how this new data may change our understanding of human behavior.