Welcome to the Early Development Lab at UVA


We are one of four Child Development Laboratories affiliated with the Department of Psychology.

boy with truck

We study how children process information and learn about the world around them. We are especially concerned with more playful forms of learning, especially Montessori education and its potential influence on cognitive and social development. Current projects include:

- A collaboration with the American Institutes for Research, funded by the Institutes for Education Sciences, examining how children develop in public Montessori preschools; the study also will examine program features, fidelity, and costs.

- Christina Carroll is studying whether Montessori teachers differ in key ways from traditional teachers, and when those differences emerge (before, during, or after training).

- Lee LeBouef is studying Montessori and social equity, using existing data to examine such issues as discipline disproportionality, chronic absenteeism, and lesson receipt. 

- Other studies are examining how children learn from Montessori-style versus more traditional instructional modes, how Montessori inspires curiosity (with Jamie Jirout and Natalie Evans in UVA's School of Education, funded by the Sir John Templeton Foundation), the biology of Montessori including how children's stress levels fluctuate across the school year (with Amanda Dettmer at Yale, funded by the Shared Presence Foundation), and a meta-analytic review of Montessori education (with Justus Randolph and other collaborators at Mercer University, supported by the Campbell Collaboration).

girl on benchOur laboratory studies usually involve children from infancy to the age of 8. The lab will be returning to Gilmer Hall on the UVA grounds in Charlottesville this summer. Most studies involve a fun, one-time visit lasting about one hour. Parents may be with their children throughout the visit if desired.

We are always looking for children and families willing to be involved in our studies!
Parents interested in having their children participate can register and find further information about our research at the Child Development Laboratories website.



Angeline Lillard will be giving the Keynote Address at the Fundación Argentina María Montessori, September 10, 2022.

Recent News

Corey Borgman spoke about research at the National Center for Montessori in the Public Sector Conference in May, 2022.

Ian Becker successfully defended his dissertation and will graduate in May, 2022. Ian was awarded the department's Becky Boone Graduate Teaching Award.

Lee LeBouef was accepted as an Institutes for Education Sciences VEST 2-year Fellow beginning Fall, 2022; her second mentor will be Prof. Jason Downer.

Christina Carroll and Lee LeBouef were co-recipients of the American Montessori Society MA thesis prize for 2022.