Our research concerns children's social and cognitive development with a focus on the impact of Montessori Education as a form of playful learning. 

We are currently addressing four questions that are related to Montessori and to education more broadly. 

1. What does public Montessori preschool in the United States look like today, and what is the impact of Montessori on preschool-aged children? This IES-funded collaboration with AIR has about 600 children enrolled, with a third in public Montessori that are in our study, and the rest (a lottery-controlled comparison group) in other programs. Fidelity measures, baseline, and a PK3 year data set were collected in 2022, more child data and teacher surveys were collected in 2024, and with funding from Arnold we collected kindergarten data in 2024..

2. How does teacher training change people, in Montessori versus conventional programs? Are Montessori teachers more authoritative (versus authoritarian) for example, and if so, was that a result of training or a pre-existing condition? How long do Montessori teachers stay in the profession, as compared to conventional teachers, and why?

3. Can Montessori education alleviate education inequality in the United States? How does the program function in marginalized communities? How do student-teacher relationships look in Montessori and conventional schools? Do student autonomy and individualized learning differ in Montessori and conventional schools? 

4. How do children's stress levels change across the school year in public Montessori and traditional school programs, from first to eighth grade?

5. How does Working Memory in young children ages 4-7 differ between those in Montessori and conventional preschools?

Visit the Montessori Science website for more information.




Living Laboratory Collaboration

In Fall 2015, the Child Development Laboratories at the University of Virginia partnered with the Virginia Discovery Museum to form a Living Laboratory, a nationwide educational research program developed at the Museum of Science, Boston. The goal of this program is to bring together academic researchers (such as ourselves) and museum staff to foster public awareness and understanding of the scientific study of children's learning and development.

Our Living Laboratory is located on site at the Virginia Discovery Museum, and undergraduate and graduate researchers from the Child Development Laboratories visit weekly to recruit participants, conduct studies, and talk with families about child development.

Learn more about the Virginia Discovery Museum
Learn more about Living Laboratory.