Thirkell uses Emergenetics in the classroom


Thirkell explains a homework problem in AP Calculus. Students in her class saw 5 to 20 percent increased performance on their tests after participating in the Emergenetics program.

Sophia Artley, Editor

Kathy Thirkell, a math teacher, works hard to make sure her students learn. Recently she has added a modern, personality based, scientific program to her classroom in the hopes of aiding her students – Emergenetics.

“Emergenetics is a science that talks about the genetics you have and the experiences you have that shape the way you learn and think.” Thirkell said. “Its that interplay between the thinking attributes and the behavior attributes that gives students the ability to advocate for themselves and their learning.”

By taking an Emergenetics questionnaire, a person’s personality is broken down into two main categories – thinking and behavior. There are four thinking attributes, analytical, structural, social, and conceptual, that are measured in percentages. There are three behavioral attributes, expressiveness, assertiveness, and flexibility, and are measured on a scale of one to one-hundred. How a person thinks and behaves is given to him or her on an emergenetics ‘profile’ a few months later.

Two years ago, Lewis-Palmer High School staff members took a emergenetics questionnaire to learn about themselves and make decisions as a group. This prompted Thirkell to take this to the classroom.

“I decided and knew then that if it was good for adults, it was better for students because of the four thinking attributes and three behaviors” Thirkell said.

Last year Thirkell was able to incorporate it into her AP Calculus and Calculus 3 classrooms, and this year she was able to use it in all her classrooms. Thirkell sees it as only a benefit, believing in what it can do for her students.

“I see it as a benefit for students in an ability for them to understand how they best think and how to phrase a question so they can learn how to learn what’s best for themselves. It gave them the confidence to be able to learn how they learn best for themselves, and then to make choices for what they’re doing based on their report. I would never teach again without it because it empowers the student.” Said Thirkell.

Emergenetics has contributed to her student’s success, last year her students saw a gain of 5 to 20 percent increased performance on their testing.

Apart from testing, Thrikell also believes it helps her students to work better with their peers. By creating groups each chapter based on the content, she can put groups together to make a whole spectrum of emergenetics profiles, or have all the dominantly social thinkers in one group. 

Thirkell explains a homework problem in AP Calculus. Students in her class saw 5 to 20 percent increased performance on their tests after participating in the Emergenetics program.Thirkell herself has preferences (stronger inclinations to think certain ways) towards analytical and structural, as well as a little bit of social. This means that she has an interest in logic and data, wants to understand the reasoning behind things, is practical, follows directions, and likes closure. Her bit of social thinking means that she sometimes thinks more based on relationships and may like working in groups.

“I’ve learned [from my emergenetics profile] that I need to incorporate all of my students thinking attributes for my students’ success.” Said Thirkell

As for the future of  this program, Emergenetics will continue to play an active role at Lewis-Palmer. All of the incoming freshmen took the questionnaire and the accompanying ‘training’ to understand what their profiles mean. Freshmen teachers also took a training to be able to implement Emergenetics into their classrooms. Thirkell will also be working with other teachers next semester to help them get this program into their own classrooms.