Below are a collection of resources you can use to explore the Montessori Method further.

An Introduction to Montessori

Research Base Used to Develop Our Curriculum

The specialized educational method of the Montessori Method has been extensively studied over the course of the hundred years since Maria Montessori first outlined the methodology. The Founding Group of Cypress Junction Montessori used the research conducted by Montessori herself, as well as those who studied her method in order to form the research base. Below are some of the foundational articles used to refine the curricular approach. Numerous other articles and books were used to inform the application.

Lillard, A., and Else-Quest, N. (2006). Evaluating Montessori education. Science. 313, 18931894.

This article details the research of Lillard and Else-Quest and provides a comparative analysis of Montessori educated and traditionally educated students’ academic and social work.

The study evaluated the social and academic impact of Montessori education. Overall 53 control (traditionally educated students) and 59 Montessori students were studied. Both groups came from equal social economic levels. The two groups were divided, then, by age. Children in both the Montessori group and control group were tested for cognitive/academic and social/behavioral skills that were selected for importance in life. This was done so as not to examine results specific of Montessori education.

Significant differences favoring Montessori students were found in the younger age group in the following areas: Letter/Word identification, phonological decoding abilities, and math skills. The younger group was also tested for executive function (following multi-step procedures) and the Montessori educated group performed significantly higher than the traditionally educated group. Lillard and Else-Quest also studied moral levels of reasoning with both groups.

Montessori students were significantly more likely to use higher levels of reasoning by referring to justice and/ or fairness when confronted with social scenarios. Observationally, Lillard and Else-Quest indicated that Montessori children, at work or at play, were more likely to be involved in positive shared play versus traditionally educated children.

In the older group of students studied, both groups were asked to complete a writing prompt in five minutes. Montessori students’ writing was scored as significantly more creative and used more sophisticated sentence structure. The older group of Montessori students also scored higher at tests designed to evaluate social and behavioral measures.

The conclusion of the study indicated that Montessori educated students performed better on standardized tests of reading and math, engaged in more positive interactions with their peers, and showed more advanced social cognition and executive control. They also showed more concern for fairness and justice.

Dohrmann, K (2003). Outcomes for Students in a Montessori Program. Association of Montessori International, May.

This article details the research of Kathryn Dohrmann and provides a comparative analysis of Montessori educated and traditionally educated students’ scores on standardized assessments. The study was longitudinal, looking at students’ performance five or more years after they left the Montessori environment.

The study evaluated the academic impact of Montessori education. Overall, a matched sample of 201 Montessori educated students, who received Montessori education from age three through grade 5 and continued their education in Milwaukee Public Schools, and a peer control group were studied. The groups were matched by gender, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic status.

The study compared the students’ ACT scores, WKCE scores, and GPAs. The results of the study show that there is an association between Montessori education and superior performance on the Math and Science scales of  the ACT and WKCE. Dohrmann confirmed the hypothesis that Montessori education has a positive long-term

impact. In addition, Dohrmann’s research shows that Montessori students continue to be successful in traditional schools

Richardson, S (2004). Research Validates Montessori Approach to Teaching Language. Montessori Life 16, No. 3, 46-48.

This article compares the literacy research sponsored by the National Institutes of Health to the progression of language acquisition in the Montessori classroom. Richardson shows that the Montessori approach to teaching language helps children with dyslexia and other reading disabilities. Children with language-based reading disabilities struggle with phonemic awareness and decoding. The Montessori approach ties language and sound to kinesthetic exercises that help students build memory and increase their phonemic awareness and phonological processing skills. Montessori materials like the sandpaper letters and the moveable alphabet help students connect sounds and written symbols. Presenting language and grammar concepts using games and concrete exercises makes language learning more meaningful for all students, but students with learning disabilities benefit greatly from this approach. Additionally, Montessori work in the Sensorial and Practical Life areas of the classroom help build dexterity and support writing development. The National Institutes of Health research study validates the methods first presented by Maria Montessori over 100 years ago.

Rathunde, K. (2003).A comparison of Montessori and traditional middle schools: motivation, quality of experience, and social context. The NAMTA Journal. 28, No. 3, 13-52.

Rathunde takes two motivational theories, goal theory and flow theory, and discusses his research and their implications for middle school reform and the facets they share with Montessori education. Both of these theories help illustrate the positive dimensions of a Montessori based middle school.

Goal Theory

Goal theory indicates how students’ goals are intertwined with the quality of their commitment to their education. There are two basic types of goals: task and performance (Anderman and Maehr, 1994). Task focused students are intrinsically motivated. They are drawn to master tasks they may find more challenging. Performance focused students are concerned with evaluation by those surrounding them—their peers and those in authority. This can decrease productivity and learning because students don’t want their ability to be judged. It also disrupts student learning. Since many traditional middle schools focus on performance learning, strategies have been implemented to change classroom and school cultures to better reflect task focused students. One of these strategies is summarized in the acronym TARGET (Task, Authority, Recognition, Grouping, Evaluation, and Time). Research and observation showed that Montessori educated students reflect the goals of the TARGET proposals (see table).


Montessori Students


A task focus was emphasized by a school culture that emphasizes intrinsic learning. Students have freedom to select projects and are given several hours a day to complete them.


In the Montessori school, authority is not necessarily hierarchical. Students often take on leadership and planning roles for different school functions.


Recognition of student achievement is done in a way that avoids achievement competition.


Ability grouping is rarely done as students are often grouped by interest. By the very nature of Montessori education, students are encouraged to collaborate with each other.


Students are evaluated in many alternative forms, instead of the traditional ABCDF manner.


Time is managed in a flexible setting to allow for the better use of a student’s learning time.

Flow Theory

Optimal experience theory, or flow theory, was developed by M. Csikszentmihalyi. Coincidentally, it is an aspect that is familiar with Montessori students. “Flow is an intrinsically motivated, task-focused state characterized by full concentration, a change in the awareness of time (time going by quickly), feelings of clarity and control, a merging of action and awareness, and a loss of self-consciousness” (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990). Maria Montessori wrote that “children not only work seriously, but have great powers of concentration…action can absorb the whole attention and energy of a person” (Montessori, 1946). A school environment that fosters deep engagement and concentration is one of the goals of Montessori education.

Many of the policies and practices of Montessori education are consistent with goal theory and flow theory. The expectation of this study is that the Montessori students would report a more positive quality of experience in their educational studies.

The Study

The following results were obtained from the study:

Part 1. Do Montessori students have a more optimal experience while working in school?

Montessori students reported a significantly better quality of experience in academic work than the traditional students. There were strong differences suggesting that Montessori students were feeling more active, strong, excited, happy, relaxed, sociable, and proud while engaged in academic work. They were also enjoying themselves more, they were more interested in what they were doing, and they wanted to be doing academic work more than the traditional students.

In addition to the comparison of the Montessori and traditional students, the results also provide additional interesting information about experience while working at school. The Montessori students’ affect, potency, and motivation in academic work were about the same as their average levels for the week. In other words, they seemed to be just as engaged while doing work in school as they were the rest of the week doing various activities outside of school.

Therefore, the fact that Montessori students are feeling about the same in schoolwork as in the rest of their lives (e.g., feeling “some” sense of excitement and strength) suggests that school is not an aversive place; it fits well into the ecology of their lives.

Part 2. Do Montessori schools provide a more positive community for learning?

Montessori students reported more support from teachers, more order in the classroom, and a greater feeling of emotional/psychological safety. The findings here are clear and simple to interpret. The Montessori students were much more positive about the quality of their school environments. Overall, the Montessori students (1) saw their teachers as more fair, friendly, and interested in them; (2) did not perceive as much chaos in the environment in terms of disruptions and misbehavior; and (3) felt safe from the emotional pain associated with put downs by teachers and students.

Final Conclusion

Results from the study showed that while engaged in academic work at school, Montessori students reported higher affect, potency (feeling alert and energetic), intrinsic motivation (enjoyment, interest), and flow experience than students from traditional middle schools. Almost 40% of their schoolwork was intrinsically motivating and important; in contrast, the traditional students felt this way only 24% of the time.

Works Cited

Csikzentmihalyi, M. (1990). The psychology of optimal experience. Flow. New York, NY: Harper and Row.

Maehr, M. L., and Anderman, E. (1994). Motivation and Schooling in the Middle Grades. Review of Educational Research, 64, 287-309.

Montessori, M. (1946). Unpublished lectures. London, UK : Dr. Maria Montessori’s International Training Course.

Franciscan Montessori Earth School. (2003). The Longitudinal Assessment Study: Eighteen Year Follow-up (Final Study) [Study Results]. Portland, OR: Christopher Glenn. Premise

The premise of this study is that students with two or more years of Montessori education would possess to a higher degree those qualities which are emphasized in the Montessori teaching environment. These include such characteristics as being a lifelong learner, self-control and direction, personal growth, spontaneity, and creativity. The second proposal was that students with Montessori education will be as successful as students who were more traditionally educated.


Over 18 years, six assessments were conducted. The first four involved extensive assessment of parents and teachers (using surveys), and students (using surveys, personality tests, and achievement test scores). The first four assessments were primarily quantitative while the latter two were qualitative.


Non-Montessori teachers of former Montessori educated students consistently rated the students as better than classmates in:

  • Overall academic performance
  • Ability to work alone
  • Ability to finish a product
  • Ability to cooperate with a teacher
  • Ability to handle stress
  • Appropriate use of spontaneity
  • Overall self-image
  • In analyzing the content of the open-ended questions, participants attributed these beliefs, traits and behaviors of their current lifestyle to the Montessori Education.

Academically, they favored:

  • Learning for learning’s sake (not just as a means to an end)
  • Lifelong learning
  • Actively seeking knowledge
  • Personalized and self-paced education
  • Hands-on and experiential learning
  • Self-directed learning, knowing how and where to look for information, confidence in searching for
  • Better collaboration in groups
  • Understanding, questioning, analyzing, comprehending and discussing, not just memorization or a
    ssignment completion.

Personality preferences included:

  • Life-long self-improvement
  • Tolerance and open mindedness
  • Self-confidence
  • Thinking before speaking
  • Effective decision making
  • Patience and calmness
  • Social awareness
  • Environmental awareness

Additional Resources

American Orff-Schulwerk Association Music and Movement Education. Retrieved July 20, 2012 from http://

Baumann, J. F. (2011). Journeys. Orlando, Fla.: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Chattin-McNichols, J. (2002). Revisiting the Great Lessons. Spotlight: Cosmic Education Montessori Life, 14, 43-44.

Cherath, L. (2004) Of Scabs and Showers: Teaching Science in the Middle School Montessori Classroom. Montessori Life. Retrieved July 20, 2012 from

Cossentino, J. M. (2006). Big Work: Goodness, Vocation, and Engagement in the Montessori Method. Curriculum Inquiry, 36(1), 63-92.

Csikzentmihalyi, M. (1990). The psychology of optimal experience. Flow. New York, NY: Harper and Row. Dohrmann, K. R., Nishida, T. K., Gartner, A., Lipsky, D. K., and Grimm, K. J. (2007). High school outcomes for students in a public Montessori program. Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 22(2), 205-217.

Elkind, D. (2003). Montessori and constructivism. Montessori life, 15(1), 26-29. Florida Department of Education. (2011). Florida school law. Charlottesville, VA: LexisNexis.

Franciscan Montessori Earth School. (2003). The Longitudinal Assessment Study: Eighteen Year Follow-up (Final Study) [Study Results]. Portland, OR: Christopher Glenn.

Fountas, I. C., and Pinnell, G. S. (1996). Guided reading: Good first teaching for all children. Heinemann, 361 Hanover Street, Portsmouth, NH 03801-3912.

Glendinning, P. (2006). View from the Pennies: Montessori Mathematics. Retrieved July 20, 2012 from http://

Greene, P. K. (2005). Dear Maria Montessori. Kappa Delta Pi Record, 164-166.

Landry, S. H., Smith, K. E., Swank, P. R., and Guttentag, C. (2008). A responsive parenting intervention: the optimal timing across early childhood for impacting maternal behaviors and child outcomes. Developmental psychology,44(5), 1335.

Levin, H. M. (1988). Accelerated schools for at-risk students. CPRE.

Lillard, A. S. (2005). Montessori: The science behind the genius. Oxford University Press.

Lillard, A., and Else-Quest, N. (2006). Evaluating montessori education. Science-New York Then Washington, 311(5795), 1893.

Lillard, P. P. (1972). Montessori, a modern approach. New York: Schocken Books.

Lillard, P. P. (1996). Montessori today: A comprehensive approach to education from birth to adulthood.

Random House LLC.

Maehr, M. L., and Anderman, E. (1994). Motivation and Schooling in the Middle Grades. Review of Educational Research, 64, 287-309.

Magnolia Montessori Academy. Magnolia Montessori Academy Charter Application 2012. Rep. Polk County School Board, 2012. Print.

Montessori, M. (1924) On Discipline Reflections and Advice. The Call of Education, 1(3 and 4).

Montessori, M. (1946). Unpublished lectures. London, UK: Dr. Maria Montessori’s International Training Course.

Montessori, M. (1987). From childhood to adolescence: including ‘erdkinder’ and the functions of the university. New York, NY: Schocken Books.

Montessori, M. (1995). The absorbent mind. New York, NY: Holt and Co.

Montessori, M. (2009). Dr. Montessori’s own handbook. New York, NY: Wilder Publications.

Powell, M. (2000). Can Montessorians and Constructivists Really Be Friends? Montessori  Life, 12(1), 44-51. Rule, A. C., and Barrera III, M. T. (2003). Using Objects to Teach Vocabulary Words with Multiple Meanings. Research. Montessori Life, 15(3), 14-17.

Seldin, T., and Epstein, P. (2006). Toward Best Practice in Montessori: The Exercises of Practical Life. The Montessori Way. Abingdon, MD: The Montessori Foundation. Retrieved July 20, 2012 from

Turner, Joy. (1998). How Do Children Learn To Read. Montessori Life. 10(4), 37. United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. Retrieved July 20, 2012, from