Performance of Montessori and traditionally schooled nursery children on social cognitive tasks and memory problems

Steven R. Yussen, Samuel Mathews, Jacqueline W. Knight

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


In two independent experiments, the performance of 4-year-old children drawn from Montessori classrooms was compared with that of children attending traditional preschools. It was speculated that the Montessori children might excel in social cognitive reasoning and in memory-both indirect consequences of the cognitive skills targeted by the curriculum. In Experiment 1, there were three social cognitive tasks-referential communication, speech differentiation, and identifying emotions. In Experiment 2, there were two memory problems-recognition of logically related objects, and free recall. There was no evidence of a difference in the level of performance of children from the two types of schools on social cognitive tasks, and both groups recoded messages more effectively to explicit requests from the listener than to implicit ones. For memory, the Montessori children excelled on the recognition problem, but there was no difference between groups on free recall. It was concluded that the Montessori curriculum does influence cognitive development beyond the narrow bounds of the cognitive skills ostensibly taught in the classroom, but the impact is greatest where there is a close relation between the specific concepts learned in class and the skill in question.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)124-137
Number of pages14
JournalContemporary Educational Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1980

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors wish to thank the administrators, teachers, and children who participated in the study, Dean Lesser for administering the PPVT, and the Spencer Foundation, who provided financial assistance through a subgrant administered by the UW School of Education. The Wisconsin Research and Development Center for Cognitive Learning also provided funds through a royalty grant. The Center is supported by funds from the National Institute of Education. The opinions herein do not necessarily reflect the position or policy of the National Institute of Education and no official endorsement by the National Institute of Education should be inferred. Send reprint requests to Steven R. Yussen, Department of Educational Psychology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1025 W. Johnson St., Madi-son, WI 53706.


Dive into the research topics of 'Performance of Montessori and traditionally schooled nursery children on social cognitive tasks and memory problems'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this