To Separate or Not Separate?: That is the Question Ashleigh Klas and Liz Hiller
If you had to make the decision to separate twins in the schools you work in…. • Why would you choose to separate twins in different classrooms? • Why would you choose to keep them together? • Do you know if your school district has set guidelines for twin placement?
Let’s get some definitions straight here • Monozygotic (MZ)-identical, developing from the same egg, must be same sex • Dizygotic (DZ)-fraternal, developing from different eggs, may be same or opposite sex
Why are twin studies important? • Multiple births have become commonplace in today’s society thus increasing the need for research in this area. • The birth rates for twins have increased 42% from 1980 to 1994. • More recent research concluded that more than 3% of individuals in industrialized countries will be a twin.
What does this mean for you? • You will likely encounter many sets of twins in the school setting during your career. • Parents and educators may have very different opinions about how their twins should be educated. • It is important for you to be a resource for the decision-making process in terms of classroom placement. • The decision is not always as simple as it may appear at first glance.
Previous Research on Twin Separation in the Classroom • Koch 1966- First longitudinal study that investigated the effects of classroom separation on twins’ adjustment. • Results- Twins that were separated into different classrooms performed better than twins that were placed in the same classroom. They also differed considerably in IQ and speech.
Previous Research on Twin Separation in the Classroom • Segal and Russell’s (1992) study gathered additional information on twins and investigated satisfaction regarding school policies, reasons to support and reject separate classrooms for twins and related issues. • 81% of mothers reported a policy of assignment to separate classrooms. • 48% of the parents who were aware of the school’s policy on separation did not endorse the practice of separation. • More parents of monozygotic twins (35%) than dizygotic twins (13%) favored early separation.
Previous Research on Twin Separation in the Classroom • Tully et al. (2004) investigated the effects of classroom separation on twin children’s behavior • Results- Twins who were separated early had significantly more internalizing problems compared with non separated twins • Also, twins who were separated later showed more internalizing problems as well as lower reading scores • Monozygotic twins suffered more from being separated into different classrooms than dizygotic twins.
Previous Research on Twin Separation in the Classroom • Van Leeuwen et al. (2005) studied short and long term effects on twins and classroom separation • These researchers used 7 year old twin pairs who were separated at age 5 to study short term effects and twelve year old twin pairs who had been separated or together most of their schooling to study long term effects.
Previous Research on Twin Separation in the Classroom • Externalizing problems predicted separation at age five and within twin pair differences in externalizing problem behavior predicted separation for their entire schooling, but not at age five. This indicates that the decision to separate twin pairs is in part based on their externalizing problems at a young age, but not on any internalizing problems at age three. • When taking the preexisting differences into account separation of the twins had no significant effects on externalizing problems at age seven. • Significant differences between separated and non separated twins at age seven on the externalizing scale already existed before the separation took place at age five and separation at age five had no additional effect on externalizing problems at age seven.
Previous Research on Twin Separation in the Classroom • Internalizing problems in twin pairs showed different results. • Twins that were separated at age 5 had more internalizing problems at age seven than non separated twins. • These issues could not be explained by preexisting problems. • For maternal ratings at age 12, for both internalizing and externalizing problems, separated twins didn’t score higher than non separated twins after the problems at age three were corrected. This indicates that the differences at age 12 between separated and non separated twin pairs already existed. • These findings suggest that separation at an early age seems to only have a short term effect on internalizing problems at the age of seven. • Results were the same for MZ and DZ, no academic differences.
Previous Research on Twin Separation in the Classroom • So…. • Overall, results indicate that for behavior problems at age seven, separation of twins can lead to internalizing behaviors. • But…. • The findings all represent small effect sizes, and at the age of 12 this negative separation effect disappeared. • So…. • These two considerations led Van Leeuwen et al. (2005) to the recommendation that the decision about classroom separation of twins should be based upon what parents think is best for their twins as well as for themselves.
Previous Research on Twin Characteristics and Relationships • Gregory Bateson (1936) recognized there are two different types of behavior that can occur in dyadic relationships: symmetrical and complementary. • Complementary: an individual assumes a position opposite to the other’s submissive or assertive stance, therefore, stabilizing the relationship. This often occurs in effectively functioning families.
Previous Research on Twin Characteristics and Relationships • Helmut Von Bracken (1934) investigated the intimate relationship between MZ and DZ twin pairs • The central theme of this study is that the object of MZ twin ships is the reservation and/or restoration of harmony or equality. And the object of the DZ twin ships, is to strive toward superiority or excellence
Previous Research on Twin Characteristics and Relationships • Von Bracken (1934)’s study indicates, primarily in MZ twins, that complimentarity can be enabling. • One MZ twin might take on the role as being assertive and/or motivated and the other twin my accommodate by adopting the complimentary trait.
Our Studies • Study 1: A snapshot of the current trends in the decision making process in respect to twins and classroom placement. • Study 2: An investigation of twin characteristics, behaviors, and relationships and examining if these factors are influential in the decision making process of classroom placement.
Why is our research important? • There is a lack of longitudinal research on why twins should be separated or kept together in the classroom, especially when focusing on twin characteristics. • There is a discrepancy between educators and parents about the decision in general. • There is little research on how the decision-making process occurs and the outcomes of the decisions.
Methodology: Participant Demographics • Participants were 105 mothers of twins • 13 respondents did not indicate their gender • 86 twin sets were school age (pre-k-12th grade) • 28 twin sets were prior to school age (birth-toddlers) • Four respondents did not indicate the school-age status
Methodology: Participant Demographics • Age range of twins 1 to 21 years with the mean age being 6.5 years. • 29 sets (25%) of twins were identical (monozygotic) • 87 sets (74%) of twins were fraternal (dizygotic). • Two twin sets (1%) were not identified.
Methodology: Participant Demographics Developmental history obtained from participants indicated: • 52% of twins were born full term • 47% were not full term • 1% stated unknown • 49% stated that there were birth complications • Mean birth weight 5.13 lbs
Methodology: Instrumentation • The survey was electronically administered to a variety of different participants, including members of the National Organization of Mothers of Twins Club and a twin’s organization from Charleston, SC. Furthermore, the survey was electronically posted at www.twinslaw.com. Informed consent was obtained from all participants.
Methodology: Instrumentation • A 66-question electronic survey was created at www.surveymonkey.com. • The survey contained questions about participants’ demographic information, twin characteristics and the decision-making process for classroom placement. • The survey was divided into two sections. The first section was created for mothers of twins that were not yet school age. The next section was created for mothers of school age twins.
Study 1 Also Known As-Who makes all these decisions anyway? Where do they get their info? Do they like their decisions?
Study 1: Results and Discussion Do parents report that they know where to find information that would help them make an informed decision about placing their twin children in separate of different classroom before they entire school? • Mothers of twins prior to school-age-58% reported that they had access to helpful information while 43% percent of this sample stated that they did not. • Mothers of school-age twins -68% believed they had sufficient information while 32% felt they did not.
Study 1: Results and Discussion • These results suggest that many parents in the process of making a placement decision for their twins believe they do have access to the proper information. • A disturbing trend result is that one-third of the parents who had school age children and already faced the challenge of classroom placement did not feel that they had enough information to do so. • This is not surprising considering research on the topic is limited and contains divergent information.
Study 1: Results and Discussion Where is the information coming from? • Approximately 30% of the mothers of twins prior to school age referenced to the internet as the number one resource. • None of the parents of twins prior to school age identified the school psychologist as a resource person, although several sought (13%) advice from friends who had twins and twin’s organizations/clubs.
Study 1: Results and Discussion • About 17% of the mothers of school age twins stated that the internet was where they gathered most information. • 36% stated that they would gather information from other places. These included friends who had twins, advice from other family members, therapists, their own personal knowledge, twin magazines and twin’s organizations/clubs. • School psychologist was the lowest ranking source of information (4%).
Study 1: Results and Discussion The number of parents using the internet as their main resource is somewhat concerning given that the internet may not always contain accurate information!
Study 1: Results and Discussion Did parents with access to sufficient information about twin placement in the classroom choose to separate them or keep them together? • 35% separated their children upon school entry. • 35% did not separate their twins upon entry into school and there children are currently still in the same classroom. • 29% kept their twins together initially, then separate them later.
Study 1: Results and Discussion Did parents with sufficient access to information regarding the placement of twins in school separate their children more often than parent who reportedly had less access to such information? • Parents who did not have access to information: • Separated their twins most frequently (48%) • Kept them together 22% of the time. • Kept their twins together initially, then separated them (30%). Results indicate that most parents chose to separate their twins whether they had access to information or not.
Study 1: Results and Discussion Are parents who sought advice more satisfied with their decision? • 58% who sought advice were satisfied with the overall decision. • 3% of respondents were not satisfied with the decision they made after seeking advice • Conversely, 38% of mothers who did not seek advice were satisfied with their decision.
Study 1: Results and Discussion • Overall, those who sought advice appear to have greater satisfaction with their decision and its outcomes. Parents who turn to a trusted friend, support group, or professional may gain the insight they need to make the most appropriate decision.
Study 1: Results and Discussion What percentage of parents seek professional advice to help them make their decision? • 46% of mothers of twins prior to school age stated that they would seek advice about classroom placement when preparing to enroll twins in school, while 54% would not seek advice. • 61% of mothers who have twins enrolled in school stated that they sought advice concerning classroom placement while 39% did not seek advice.
Study 1: Results and Discussion So what’s going on with these numbers??? • Parents of twins prior to school age children may not know where to seek advice or may not have pondered the challenges that school may present because their children are too young. • The younger the twins are, the less likely that the parents may have socialized with other parents with school age students to discuss where they can receive information they may need. • It is also likely that parents twins prior to school age may be more focused on more basic developmental tasks (walking, talking, learning basic facts) and do not have time to research classroom placement). • However, parents with twins currently enrolled in school may realize the dilemmas that may arise with classroom placement.
Study 1: Results and Discussion Do parents believe that they should make school placement decisions when it concerns their twins? When a decision to separate was reached, who was the primary decision maker? • Mothers of twins prior to school age believe that they should ultimately decide whether their twins should be separated (64%). • 61% of mothers of school-age twins thought that they should make the decision to separate their twins Interestingly, 34% of these parents thought that their children should make the decision.
Study 1: Results and Discussion Who was the primary decision maker in the families that were most satisfied with their placement decision? • Most respondents (96%) were satisfied with the classroom placement decision they made regardless of who made the decision. Of these: • Both parents (49%) • Mothers (32%). • Parents/children (11%) • Children only (1%) • Physician (1%) • Principal (3%) • Principal/mother/friends (2%)
Study 1: Results and Discussion So…. • Respondents are generally satisfied when at least one parent or both parents are the primary decision makers. • Children appear to play some role in the decision making process. • School personnel do not appear to play a very strong role in the decision making process • Parents are most satisfied when they are the primary decision makers. • Results suggest that parents know their twins best and are equipped to make a decision without mandated separation policies.
Study 1: Results and Discussion What are the defining reasons as to why a parent would be satisfied or dissatisfied with their decisions to separate or not separate their students in the classroom? Satisfied: • “Yes, because, I have requested same classroom, different desk groups...so they are in same room, but do not sit together accept circle time if allowed and if they choose to.” • “I do wish I had not followed a teacher recommendation and put them together in 4th grade...homework and family life would have been so much easier if they had been together...I realized that in grammar school not all teachers should have twins in their classrooms together.”
Study 1: Results and Discussion Dissatisfied: • “The decision was made for us because of age rules and qualifications.” • “It is much more work with having two different teachers with two different homework and teaching styles. Much more hurt feelings over not getting invited to birthdays and I feel that it has only forced the twins further apart.” • “The teachers do not talk to each other about the boys as much as the school had assured me that they would. Neither teacher seems to know anything about the other child and neither seems to seek out the other teacher if there are questions or problems.”
Study 2 • Also Known As: What are the factors in deciding the classroom placement of twins? Do twin characteristics and behaviors play a significant role? • Hypothesis: Twins share a relationship in which their behaviors accommodate each other, also known as, a complimentary relationship. • Does this relationship influence parents when making the classroom placement decision?
Study 2: Results and Discussion What are the parental variables that affect the classroom placement decision? • Parents who decided to separate their twins reported different reasons for separating than parents who decided to keep their twins together. • Parental variables in separation: • Main reason- promoting individuality • 2nd- avoiding comparison • 3rd-school recommendations • 4th-different temperaments, one bossed or dominated the other, and competition
Study 2: Results and Discussion • Parental variables when keeping the twins in the same classroom: • 1st: Convenience • 2nd: Independence • 3rd: Cooperation
Study 2: Results and Discussion • Do twin characteristics and behaviors influence the parents’ decision in classroom placement? • According to Katz (1998), it is necessary to consider twin characteristics as primary determinants in the classroom placement decision. • Looking at the parental variables we can see a consistent pattern of reported concerns. • Individuality, avoidance of comparison, convenience, independence, cooperation, etc. • Overall, these results suggest that there are many variables that contribute to the mothers’ overall classroom placement decision; however, most of these variables involve focusing on twin characteristics and behaviors.
Study 2: Results and Discussion Do parents report the hypothesized complimentary relationship among their twin sets? • For each of the 13 personality variables respondents had to rate each of their twins, individually, on a likert scale ranging from 1 to 5. • Once completed, a difference score was obtained by subtracting one twin’s score from the other across the thirteen separate dimensions. • For example: on the first dimension, Shy vs. Outgoing, if the parent rated twin 1 a 2 and twin 2 a 4, then the difference score of 2 would be the result. • After all the respondents’ difference scores were calculated, the percentage of parents who reported difference scores from 0 to 4 across the thirteen variables were calculated.
Complimentary Relationship cont’d It was not found that parents reported the hypothesized relationship. No significant difference was found for any of the dialectical dimensions indicating that most parents found their twins’ behavior and personality fairly similar (Wilks Lambda = .95, F=.823, p >.05). Most of the parents rated their twins near the midpoint of these scales (i.e., 3) It can be assumed that the mothers who responded to this survey view their twins as similar rather than different. These results could indicate an overall theme that the mothers might feel a need to protect one or both of their twins from being compared. Frequency tests were also done exclusively with identical twins. Results did not differ.
Do these findings replicate previous research? YES! First, the most the reported parental variable was promoting individuality, which replicates Gleeson et al.’s (1990) research results using an Australian survey. These researchers also found this to be the most reported reason parents decided to separate their twins. Second, results from Study 1 show that the classroom placement decision is being made by either the mother or both parents. This indicates that the respondents are following Van Leeuwen et al.’s (2005) recommendation that this decision should be based upon what parents believe is best for their twins as well as themselves. Third, convenience was the most reported parental variable when parents decided to keep their twins in the same classroom. This also indicates that respondents are following Van Leeuwen et al.’s (2005) recommendation. Fourth, Katz (1998) recommended that parents should consider twin characteristics as primary determinants in the classroom placement decision. Results show that the majority of the reported parental variables involved twin characteristics.
Study 2: Results and Discussion • Overall, the results of the current study indicate that many parents are following the recommendations of the most recent longitudinal study on twin classroom separation. Additionally, they are following Katz (1998) suggestion to incorporate twin characteristics into this decision process. However, most parents are still making their decision in agreement with the school’s recommendation to separate their twins, most likely, to promote individuality.
Recommendations and Ideas • Topics may include schools policies regarding classroom placement, more longitudinal studies focused on outcomes of classroom placement and the education of school administration regarding classroom placement. • Explore and concentrate on twin characteristics when making a decision. • Develop more and different dialectical dimensions to obtain a broader view of the twins’ personalities and behaviors. • Investigate complimentary traits of adolescents and young adults to determine if they have unique personality characteristics that tend to be complimentary. • Administering the survey to more fathers and parents from a variety of different ethnic and cultural backgrounds would be beneficial.
More Ideas for you to borrow • Include more multiples such as triplets, quadruplets etc. With the increase in fertility treatments, there are bound to be more multiple births. • Adult twins who have completed their schooling • Home schooled twins in comparison to publicly and privately schooled twins • Why school administration does not play more of a key role with parents and how they can be better educated to guide parents in a classroom placement decision • School psychologist’s role in classroom placement