Current Projects

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 five 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

Parents: Get Involved in our research!

Many Charlottesville parents bring their children to our laboratory to participate in research. Parents interested in having their children participate can sign up to be contacted by the Child Development Laboratories, including our laboratory.

Check out the Child Development Laboratories page to see what you can expect during your visit!

Lab Photo


Lab Photo

Where is the Early Development Lab located?

As of Spring 2023, we are located in the Psychology Department of the newly renovated Gilmer Hall.