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Lillard, A. & Else-Quest, N. (2006) – Evaluating Montessori Education (Science 313)

Research Description

A study comparing outcomes of children at a US public inner city Montessori school with children who attended traditional schools indicates that Montessori education leads to children with better social and academic skills.

The study by Angeline Lillard, a University of Virginia professor of psychology, and Nicole Else-Quest, a former graduate student in psychology at the University of Wisconsin appeared in the Sept. 29, 2006 issue of the journal Science.

Following is a summary as reported in The Times (London) September 29, 2006.  Extracted from an article by Alexandra Frean.

  • Pupils who learn at their own pace in Montessori schools may have an advantage over those in traditional classrooms
  • By the age of 5, children at Montessori schools are better at basic word recognition and mathematics, and are more likely to play co-operatively with other children. By the age of 12, they are more creative and better able to resolve social problems, a US study suggests.
  • The findings, based on a study of 112 children from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, were published in the journal Science, by Angeline Lillard, Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia. Fifty-nine attended a Montessori school, while a control group of fifty-three children attended conventional schools in the same area.
  • “Academically, they end up in the same place or better as non-Montessori children, but they are much better at getting on in a community.”
  • Among the five-year-olds, Montessori students not only performed significantly better in maths and English, but were also better able to see the world through others’ eyes and performed better on “executive function”, which is the ability to adapt to changing and complex problems.
  • By the age of 12, the difference in academic scores between the two groups was less pronounced. The Montessori children, however, wrote more creative essays, selected more positive responses to social dilemmas and reported a more positive sense of community at their school.

Science Vol 313 29 September 2006

Research Type