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Middle School Students’ Motivation and Quality of Experience: A Comparison of Montessori and Traditional School Environments

Kevin Rathunde and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
American Journal of Education
Vol. 111, No. 3 (May 2005), pp. 341-371
DOI: 10.1086/428885
Stable URL:
Page Count: 31
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This study compared the motivation and quality of experience of demographically matched students from Montessori and traditional middle school programs. Approximately 290 students responded to the Experience Sampling Method (ESM) and filled out questionnaires. Multivariate analyses showed that the Montessori students reported greater affect, potency (i.e., feeling energetic), intrinsic motivation, flow experience, and undivided interest (i.e., the combination of high intrinsic motivation and high salience or importance) while engaged in academic activities at school. The traditional middle school students reported higher salience while doing academic work; however, such responses were often accompanied by low intrinsic motivation. When engaged in informal, nonacademic activities, the students in both school contexts reported similar experiences. These results are discussed in terms of current thought on motivation in education and middle school reform.

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