A handful of studies indicate that Montessori students can score higher not just academically, but in measures of social and emotional development. However, real scholarly research into Montessori education is scarce, for several reasons:
Definitions: Since, even in the Montessori world, the term “Montessori” is used across a range of practices, it is hard to draw general conclusions . Research into agreed-on elements of the Montessori approach, such as mixed-age classrooms, student choice, and uninterrupted work periods is possible, but other elements such as authentic implementation and the use of Montessori materials are more difficult to measure.
Selection bias: Because students are typically in Montessori classrooms by parental choice, rather than random assignment, it can be difficult to control for parental influence. Several studies in lottery-based public programs have attempted to overcome this bias.
In spite of these factors, some research does exist. Some widely-cited studies are listed here, as well as links to other sources.
Quantitative studies in peer-reviewed journals: Some of these documents are available only to subscribers or for a fee.
- The Journal of Montessori Research, a peer-reviewed scholarly journal published by the American Montessori Society and Kansas University, regularly publishes legitimate Montessori research.
- Dohrmann, K., Nishida, T., Gartner, A., Lipsky, D., & Grimm, K. (2007). High school outcomes for students in a public Montessori program. Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 22(2), 205–217. This study, summarized in an AMI-USA publication, showed improved math and science performance in students from Montessori elementary schools.
- Lillard, A. & Else-Quest, N. (2006). Evaluating Montessori Education. Science, 313, 1893–1894. This widely cited study, available at the AMI website, showed improved social and academic outcomes across a range of ages.
- Rathunde, K. & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2005). Middle school students’ motivation and quality of experience: A comparison of Montessori and traditional school environments. American Journal of Education, 111, 341–371. This study, summarized in the NAMTA Journal, found greater intrinsic
Other research: Several excellent reviews and summaries of existing research can be found online.
- The National Center for Montessori in the Public Sector (NCMPS) has a great summary of the most relevant and substantial research. The AMS Research Library contains a number of resources. In particular, the Review of the Literature, 1996-2006 and 2007-2009, and the Overview of Research provide excellent summaries.
- The NAMTA Online Bibiliography indexes Montessori periodicals and citations.
- Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius, a book by researcher Angeline Lillard, surveys the connections between Montessori education and contemporary neuroscience.