Montessori Research

Research on the Difference between Traditional Middle Schools and Montessori Schools

A Summary of Dr. Rathunde’s Research on Montessori Middle Schools by Deborah Gilbert, Ph.D.

Rathunde, Kevin (2003):  A Comparison of Montessori and Traditional Middle Schools:  Motivation, Quality of Experience, and Social Context; NAMTA Journal, volume 28, number 3.


Dr. Rathunde used a statistical technique known as multivariate analysis of covariance to assess the differences between the six variables collected using the Experience Sampling Method.  This statistical procedure allowed Dr. Rathunde to determine, in an objective manner, whether there were significant differences between the two groups of students (Montessori and Traditional) and to adjust or “control” for any differences that were due to other factors such as background variables.

The statistical analysis revealed that there were strong differences between the Montessori and Traditional students. The differences included:

  1. Montessori students reported a significantly better quality of experience in academic work than the traditional students,
  2. Montessori students appeared to feel more active, strong, excited, happy,
    relaxed, sociable, and proud while engaged in academic work,
  3. Montessori students enjoyed themselves more, they were more interested in what they were doing, and they wanted to be doing academic work more than the traditional students,
  4. Montessori students reported significantly higher percentages of undivided interest, higher motivation and higher levels of importance with regard to schoolwork,
  5. Montessori students reported more conditions where the challenges and skills used while doing academic work were above average.