Repository logo

The New Borderland: A Mixed-Methods Examination of Teacher Perceptions of Intelligence, Race, and Socioeconomic Status in Relation to Behavior Genetics



Change log


Martschenko, Daphne Oluwaseun  ORCID logo


Behavior genetics argues intelligence and educational attainment are highly heritable (genetically influenced) and polygenic (influenced by many genes) traits. Researchers in this field have moved beyond identifying whether and how much genes influence the manifestation of a given outcome to trying to pinpoint the genetic markers that help predict them. In more recent years, behavior genetics research has attempted to cross-over into the field of education, looking to play a role in the construction of policy and the implementation of curriculum. This dissertation explores American teacher understandings of intelligence, race, and socioeconomic status in relation to genetics. The convergent parallel mixed-methods research design interprets findings from focus groups, interviews, and surveys through the notion of ‘discriminate biopower’–a theoretical framework that combines intersectionality with biopower. Findings from this study suggest that US teachers believe children differ genetically and see genetics playing a role in a student’s ability and race. Furthermore, teachers are open to learning more about the inclusion of genetics research in education policy. At the same time, however, teachers are wary of incorporating behavior genetics findings into education policy within a context where economic and racial segregation continue to dictate who gains access to resource and opportunities.





Vignoles, Anna
Dillabough, Jo-Anne


education, genetics, discriminate biopower, teachers, mixed-methods


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Awarding Institution

University of Cambridge