Twin Classroom Dilemma: To Study Together or Separately?

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Abstract

There is little research to date on the academic implications of teaching twins in the same or different classroom. Consequently, it is not clear whether twin classroom separation is associated with positive or negative educational outcomes. As a result, parents and teachers have insufficient evidence to make a well-informed decision when twins start school. This study addresses two research questions: Are there average positive or negative effects of classroom separation? Are twins taught in different classes more different from each other than twins taught in the same class? Twin pairs from two large representative samples from Quebec (Canada) and the United Kingdom were evaluated across a large age range (7 to 16 years) on academic achievement, several cognitive abilities and motivational measures. Our results show almost no sizable positive or negative average effect of classroom separation on twins’ achievement, cognitive ability and motivation. Twin pairs at age 12 (Quebec, Canada) and at age 16 (United Kingdom) were slightly more similar on achievement if placed in the same classroom, with slightly greater similarity among monozygotic twins than dizygotic twins. However, the few effects found were weak, and it remains unclear whether they result from classroom separation or other factors. These results suggest that in terms of educational outcomes, policymakers should not impose rigid guidelines to separate twin pairs during their education. The choice of whether to educate twin pairs together or separately should be up to parents, twins and teachers, in response to twins’ individual needs.

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