Achievement & Assessment Institute

Affiliated Researchers

Dr. Brooke Culclasure is affiliated with the Richard W. Riley Institute at Furman University, where she serves as its research director. In addition to teaching at Furman, she coordinates large-scale, mixed-method research projects on Montessori education, project-based learning, and New Tech Network schools. Dr. Culclasure also oversees the Riley Institute’s Evaluation Capacity Building Initiative. She serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Montessori Research and has recently presented at the American Montessori Society national conference, the International Montessori Congress, the American Education Research Association national conference, and the American Evaluation Association national conference. She earned master’s degrees from the University of Virginia (political science) and the University of South Carolina (education policy), and her doctorate is from the University of Virginia (education policy and research).


Dr. Angeline Lillard, an elected fellow of both the American Psychological Association and the Association for Psychological Science, is a professor of psychology at the University of Virginia. She received her doctorate in psychology from Stanford University in 1991, and she was awarded the American Psychological Association’s Boyd McCandless Award for Distinguished Early Career Contribution in 1999. Her book “Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius,” now in its third edition, received the Cognitive Development Society Book Award. She has published over 100 articles in peer-reviewed journals, including Science and Pediatrics, and her research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and many private foundations.


Dr. Maria McKenna is an associate professor of the Practice at the University of Notre Dame. She holds a joint appointment in the Department of Africana Studies and the Education, Schooling, and Society program. She is also a faculty fellow for both the Institute for Educational Initiatives and Notre Dame’s Poverty Studies program. As a qualitative researcher with particular expertise in child-centered research, Dr. McKenna studies the philosophy of educational care and space, youth empowerment, and the social and cultural contexts of education related to equity and inclusion. Dr. McKenna serves as a conduit between the Montessori community and mainstream educational researchers in a variety of arenas. She has been published in several academic journals and presses, and she serves on the editorial and review boards of various publications, including the Journal of Montessori Research.

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