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Montessori's Research Agenda

CONVENER(S): Margaret Loeffler

PARTICIPANTS: Anna Perry, Walter Ebmeyer, Pam Crisman, Paula Ilami, Angela Izzillo, Lynn Wallace, Adele Magdoon, Maggie Kruger, John Chattin-McNichols?, Jane Vail Ward, Renee DuCharney?-Farhes, Luy Canzcneri-Golden, Juliet King, Virginia Varga, Denny Schapiro, Celma Perry


An outline was presented of Montessori research that has been initiated in the last three years following the Research Colloquium held in March, 2002. Among items discussed were:

- Agenda defined at the Colloquium with three Phases:

1. Defining the characteristics and dispositions that Montessori described as natural to the child and the elements that she said were necessary to support and foster this natural development: the environments, the curriculum and the suggested practices at each age level. A second and complementary area of study in Phase one has been the careful study of what others have said, and are saying, about the importance of these characteristics and dispositions, including the descriptive terminology used.

2. In-depth study of the characteristics and dispositions identified in Phase One and the important elements affecting their development within an educational setting.

3. A study of the retention of the characteristics described by Montessori and seen by her as universal and important to the full development of the human adult.

- A set of ten outcomes have been devised from Montessori's work and from the contemporary books, "Habits of Mind" published by the Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development, a well-respected general education organization. The BOLD titles are Montessori's four Characteristics of the Normalized Child, as first defined in "The Absorbent Mind" but extended through all planes of development. These characteristics are further described using the terminology and ideas from Habits of Mind:

ABILITY TO CONCENTRATE 1. Sustains attention to complete activities independently. 2. Shows thoroughness and accuracy 3. Exhibits Organizational skills

NEED FOR AND ENJOYMENT OF WORK 4. Enjoys new challenges, is intellectually curious, responds with wonder and awe. 5. Exhibits problem solving abilities 6. Exhibits creativity, imagination, innovation and humor

SELF-REGULATION AND SELF-DISCIPLINE 7. Takes responsibility for own actions 8. Makes appropriate choices to complete tasks and meet goals

SOCIABILITY 9. Communicates needs, concerns, feelings, and opinions 10. Works cooperatively and productively with others

- Observable outcomes have been drawn from each of these for use by teachers and for research purposes. We are in the process of working with staff from NYU in creating a research proposal in which these 10 characteristics will be tested in Montessori and non-Montessori classes. Standardized testing results will also be evaluated. A grant writer has been hired to write this proposal seeking funds from foundations. $60,000 has been raised from Montessori Schools from across the country.

- There are two current research projects in process that are still looking for input from the Montessori community:

1. School surveys that gather basic data from all Montessori schools regarding demographic of their population, including standardized test scores,

2. "Voices from the Field" is a qualitative research project that seeks to collect rich contextual descriptions of children's activities and behaviors in current Montessori classrooms. These vignettes when gathered will be analyzed for dominant themes that have frequent occurence.

To participate in either of these projects - and we do have a great need for your participation - please go to www.amshq.org and follow the prompts for "Voices from the Field" and the School Survey.

- John Chattin-McNichols? suggested checking out a summary of other Montessori research projects on his website: www.meipn.com

He and Peggy Loeffler also agreed to organize a request for proposals from Ph.D. students in Cognitive Psychology to do a review of current research in the field that both supports and does not support Montessori education. A fee of $5,000 will be paid to the student for his or her work in compiling and analyzing this review of literature.

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Last edited February 15, 2003 1:47 pm USA Pacific Time (diff)