Dr Marie-Josee Bisson

Job: Senior Lecturer in Psychology

Faculty: Health and Life Sciences

School/department: School of Applied Social Sciences

Research group(s): Language Lab

Address: De Montfort University, The Gateway, Leicester, LE1 9BH

T: 0116 201 3989

E: marie-josee.bisson@dmu.ac.uk

W: https://languagescientists.our.dmu.ac.uk

Social Media: sites.google.com/view/languagelab-dmu

 

Personal profile

Dr Bisson’s research interests are on first and second language acquisition, implicit and explicit learning, bilingualism, mathematical cognition and psycholinguistics. As well as behavioural research methods, she conducts experiments using eye-tracking and EEG.

 

Some of her prior research has focused on facilitating foreign language learning through informal exposures (incidental learning). Dr Bisson is interested in the predictors of learning and she recently investigated the cognitive (e.g. working memory, auditory/phonological abilities, orthographic abilities, executive fundctions) and affective (e.g. motivation and confidence) predictors of both incidental and explicit foreign language word learning. Another current project examines the roles of visual statistical learning, orthographic abilities and cross-linguistic orthographic similarity on word learning. 

Another line of research has compared the use or concrete and abstract examples to facilitate the learning of novel mathematical concepts. She has conducted randomised controlled trial studies with children and adolescents using a method known as comparative judgement to measure conceptual understanding.

If you are interested in pursuing a Master or PhD on any of the above topics please do get in touch.

Research group affiliations

Language Lab

Institute for Psychological Sciences

Cognition and Neurosciences Research Cluster 

Publications and outputs

  • Learning Words With Unfamiliar Orthography: The Role Of Cognitive Abilities
    Learning Words With Unfamiliar Orthography: The Role Of Cognitive Abilities Bisson, M. J. Research suggests new foreign language (FL) words are learnt more easily if their phonology follows the phonotactic rules of the native language. Very little is known however about the impact of orthography on FL learning. This study investigated the cognitive mechanisms supporting the learning of words with familiar and unfamiliar orthographies. Participants took part in learning and meaning recall tasks, as well as a series of cognitive tasks (short-term and working memory tasks and tasks assessing their phonological and acoustic abilities). Orthographic and phonological familiarity judgments were collected using another sample of participants. Using a mixed-effects model, the results showed that orthographic familiarity impacted FL word learning even after controlling for phonological familiarity. However, there were no interactions with cognitive abilities. The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link. Bisson, M.-J. (2022). Learning Words With Unfamiliar Orthography: The Role Of Cognitive Abilities. Studies in Second Language Acquisition,
  • Continuous cursor-captured conceptual competition: Investigating the spatiotemporal dynamics of spoken word comprehension
    Continuous cursor-captured conceptual competition: Investigating the spatiotemporal dynamics of spoken word comprehension Bisson, M. J.; Toon, Josef; Kukona, Anuenue; Scase, Mark Semantically related concepts are coactivated during spoken word comprehension. Two internet-mediated cursor-tracking experiments examined the spatiotemporal dynamics of this coactivation. Participants viewed visual arrays containing images of a target (e.g., accordion) and a semantically related (e.g., banjo) or unrelated (e.g., plum) distractor whilst hearing the target word (e.g., “accordion”). Participants were tasked with moving their cursor from the bottom of the visual array to the target in one of the upper corners. In contrast to Experiment 1, the onset of stimulus presentation was triggered by cursor movement in Experiment 2. Across both experiments, temporal (e.g., RT) and spatial (e.g., AUC) measures revealed significantly greater attraction to images of semantically related compared to unrelated distractors. These results reveal that online cursor-tracking methods are sensitive to semantic competition and suitable for studying the activation of semantic knowledge during language comprehension. The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link. Toon, J., Bisson, MJ., Scase, M. and Kukona, A . (2022) Continuous cursor-captured conceptual competition: Investigating the spatiotemporal dynamics of spoken word comprehension. Memory & Cognition.
  • Vocabulary knowledge predicts individual differences in the integration of visual and linguistic constraints
    Vocabulary knowledge predicts individual differences in the integration of visual and linguistic constraints Kukona, Anuenue; Gaziano, Olivia; Bisson, M. J.; Jordan, Adrian Two experiments investigated individual differences in the integration of visual and linguistic constraints during syntactic ambiguity resolution. Skilled adult comprehenders heard sentences like “Put the kiwi on the rectangle on the circle”, in which “on the rectangle…” could temporarily reflect either the destination of “put” or a modifier of “kiwi”, while viewing visual arrays with either 1 kiwi (e.g., on a rectangle) or 2 kiwis (e.g., on a rectangle vs. triangle). While the noun “kiwi” provided sufficient information to distinguish the object of interest in the 1 referent context, modification was necessitated by the 2 referent context. Garden path eye (Experiment 1) and mouse (Experiment 2) movements to the incorrect (e.g., rectangle) destination were reduced in 2 vs 1 referent contexts, conceptually replicating prior findings, and these effects were weaker for participants with less vs. more vocabulary knowledge. Implications for models of sentence processing are discussed. The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link. Kukona, A., Gaziano, O., Bisson, M., and Jordan, A. (2022). Vocabulary knowledge predicts individual differences in the integration of visual and linguistic constraints. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 37 (6), pp. 750-765
  • Improving young children’s handwashing behaviour and understanding of germs: The impact of A Germ’s Journey educational resources in schools and public spaces
    Improving young children’s handwashing behaviour and understanding of germs: The impact of A Germ’s Journey educational resources in schools and public spaces Younie, Sarah; Mitchell, Chloe; Bisson, M. J.; Crosby, Sapphire; Kukona, Anuenue; Laird, Katie Context: Effective handwashing can prevent the spread of germs, including Covid-19. However, young children can lack a fundamental understanding of germ transfer. A Germ’s Journey educational resources were designed to support young children in learning about germs and handwashing. These resources include a book, website, song, online games and glo-gel activities that are informed by a behaviour change model. Research gap: Prior research has not evaluated the impacts of these resources on behavioural outcomes. Purpose of the study: Two intervention studies evaluated the impacts of these resources on both knowledge and behavioural outcomes. Method: In Study 1, children (n = 225) were recruited from four schools and randomly assigned by classrooms to participate in a multicomponent intervention (vs. control). In Study 2, children (n = 104) were recruited from a museum and randomly assigned to participate in a song intervention (vs. control). Trained observers recorded participants’ engagement in six handwashing behaviours and their understanding of germs. These behavioural and knowledge outcomes were analysed using regression and related analyses. Results: In Study 1, significant improvements were observed between baseline and follow up in the intervention group for both behavioural scores (Est = 0.48, SE = 0.14, t = 3.30, p = 0.001) and knowledge scores (Est = 2.14, SE = 0.52, z = 4.11, p < 0.001), whereas these improvements were not observed in the control group (ts < 1). In Study 2, the intervention group had significantly higher behavioural scores compared to the control group (Est. = -0.71, SE = 0.34, t = -2.07, p = 0.04). Conclusion: This research demonstrates that specifically designed hand hygiene educational resources can improve handwashing practice and understanding in young children, and could lead to the reduction of the transmission of disease within this group. open access article Younie, S., Mitchell, C., Bisson, M-J., Crosby, S., Kukona, A. and Laird, K. (2020) Improving young children’s handwashing behaviour and understanding of germs: The impact of A Germ’s Journey educational resources in schools and public spaces. PLoS ONE, 15 (11): e0242134
  • An Ear And Eye For Language: Mechanisms Underlying Second Language Word Learning
    An Ear And Eye For Language: Mechanisms Underlying Second Language Word Learning Bisson, M. J.; Baker-Kukona, Anuenue; Lengeris, Angelos To become fluent in a second language, learners need to acquire a large vocabulary. However, the cognitive and affective mechanisms that support word learning, particularly among second language learners, are only beginning to be understood. Prior research has focused on intentional learning and small artificial lexicons. In the current study investigating the sources of individual variability in word learning and their underlying mechanisms, participants intentionally and incidentally learned a large vocabulary of Welsh words (i.e., emulating word learning in the wild) and completed a large battery of cognitive and affective measures. The results showed that for both learning conditions, native language knowledge, auditory/phonological abilities and orthographic sensitivity all made unique contributions to word learning. Importantly, short-term/working memory played a significantly larger role in intentional learning. We discuss these results in the context of the mechanisms that support both native and non-native language learning. The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. Bisson, M.-J., Baker-Kukona, A. & Lengeris, A. (2020) An Ear And Eye For Language: Mechanisms Underlying Second Language Word Learning. Bilingualism, Language and Cognition,
  • Teaching using contextualised and decontextualised representations: examining the case of differential calculus through a comparative judgement technique
    Teaching using contextualised and decontextualised representations: examining the case of differential calculus through a comparative judgement technique Gilmore, Camilla; Inglis, Matthew; Jones, Ian; Bisson, M. J. An ongoing debate concerns whether novel mathematical concepts are better learned using contextualised or decontextualised representations. A barrier to resolving this debate, and therefore to progress in the discipline, has been the paucity of validated methods of measuring students’ understanding of mathematical concepts. We developed an innovative and efficient method for measuring, in experimental settings, students’ understanding of any mathematical concept using comparative judgement. We demonstrate the method by applying it to the comparison of learning outcomes from two teaching conditions. Participants (260 15–16 year olds across six schools) were introduced to differential calculus using contextualised or decontextualised representations. We then assessed participants’ comparative conceptual understanding of derivatives. We found evidence that contextualised and decontextualised representations were equally effective at promoting student learning in this context. The assessment method yielded valid and reliable results, suggesting that it offers a robust and efficient approach for the problem of assessing conceptual understanding in experimental or other comparative settings. The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link. Bisson, M.J., Gilmore, C., Inglis, M. and Jones, I. (2019) Teaching using contextualised and decontextualised representations: examining the case of differential calculus through a comparative judgement technique. Research in Mathematics Education,
  • Measuring conceptual understanding in randomised controlled trials: Can comparative judgement help?
    Measuring conceptual understanding in randomised controlled trials: Can comparative judgement help? Jones, Ian; Bisson, M. J.; Gilmore, Camilla; Inglis, Matthew An impediment to conducting high-quality quantitative research studies in education is the paucity of valid measures of learning gains. Studies often seek to investigate students’ deep, conceptual understanding yet many measures assess only surface, procedural understanding. One reason is that the development of validated measures of conceptual understanding is resource intensive, time consuming, and success is not guaranteed. We evaluated a novel and efficient technique, based on comparative judgement, for assessing conceptual understanding. We applied the technique to a randomised controlled trial in which students were taught simple algebra based on either the Grid Algebra or the MiGen software package. The participants were Year 5 students (N = 188) drawn from four primary schools who had not encountered algebra previously. An instrument from the literature (Concepts in Secondary Mathematics and Science: Algebra Scale), and a novel comparative judgement assessment were administered following the intervention. Students in the Grid Algebra condition outperformed those in the MiGen condition on both post-test measures. The comparative judgement technique performed similarly to the standard instrument but was far more efficient to design and implement. The technique can, in principle, be quickly applied to any target concept of interest. We conclude that comparative judgement is a valid, reliable and practical tool that could help to increase both the quantity and quality of quantitative research in education. The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link. Jones, I., Bisson, M-J, Gilmore, C. and Inglis, M. (2019). Measuring conceptual understanding in randomised controlled trials: Can comparative judgement help? British Educational Research Journal. 45 (3), pp. 662-680
  • Measuring Conceptual Understanding Using Comparative Judgement.
    Measuring Conceptual Understanding Using Comparative Judgement. Bisson, M. J.; Gilmore, C.; Inglis, M.; Jones, I. The importance of improving students’ understanding of core concepts in mathematics is well established. However, assessing the impact of different teaching interventions designed to improve students’ conceptual understanding requires the validation of adequate measures. Here we propose a novel method of measuring conceptual understanding based on comparative judgement (CJ). Contrary to traditional instruments, the CJ approach allows test questions for any topic to be developed rapidly. In addition, CJ does not require a detailed rubric to represent conceptual understanding of a topic, as it is instead based on the collective knowledge of experts. In the current studies, we compared CJ to already established instruments to measure three topics in mathematics: understanding the use of p-values in statistics, understanding derivatives in calculus, and understanding the use of letters in algebra. The results showed that CJ was valid as compared to established instruments, and achieved high reliability. We conclude that CJ is a quick and efficient alternative method of measuring conceptual understanding in mathematics and could therefore be particularly useful in intervention studies. The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The publisher's final version of record can be found by following the DOI link. Bisson, M.-J., Gilmore, C., Inglis, M., and Jones, I. (2016) Measuring Conceptual Understanding Using Comparative Judgement. International Journal of Research in Undergraduate Mathematics Education. online first
  • Challenges in mathematical cognition: A collaboratively-derived research agenda.
    Challenges in mathematical cognition: A collaboratively-derived research agenda. Alcock, L.; Ansari, D.; Batchelor, S.; Bisson, M. J.; De Smedt, B.; Gilmore, C.; Goebel, S. M.; Hannula-Sormunen, Minna; Hodgen, J.; Inglis, M.; Jones, I.; Mazzocco, Michele; McNeil, Nicole; Schneider, Michael; Simms, Victoria; Weber, Keith This paper reports on a collaborative exercise designed to generate a coherent agenda for research on mathematical cognition. Following an established method, the exercise brought together 16 mathematical cognition researchers from across the fields of mathematics education, psychology and neuroscience. These participants engaged in a process in which they generated an initial list of research questions with the potential to significantly advance understanding of mathematical cognition, winnowed this list to a smaller set of priority questions, and refined the eventual questions to meet criteria related to clarity, specificity and practicability. The resulting list comprises 26 questions divided into six broad topic areas: elucidating the nature of mathematical thinking, mapping predictors and processes of competence development, charting developmental trajectories and their interactions, fostering conceptual understanding and procedural skill, designing effective interventions, and developing valid and reliable measures. In presenting these questions in this paper, we intend to support greater coherence in both investigation and reporting, to build a stronger base of information for consideration by policymakers, and to encourage researchers to take a consilient approach to addressing important challenges in mathematical cognition. Open Access Journal Alcock, L., Ansari, D., Batchelor, S. et al.. (2016). Challenges in mathematical cognition: A collaboratively-derived research agenda. Journal of Numerical Cognition. 2 (1), pp. 20-41
  • The role of verbal and pictorial information in multi-modal incidental acquisition of foreign language vocabulary.
    The role of verbal and pictorial information in multi-modal incidental acquisition of foreign language vocabulary. Bisson, M. J.; van Heuven, W. J. B.; Conklin, K.; Tunney, R. J. This study used eye tracking to investigate the allocation of attention to multimodal stimuli during an incidental learning situation, as well as its impact on subsequent explicit learning. Participants were exposed to foreign language (FL) auditory words on their own, in conjunction with written native language (NL) translations, or with both written NL translations and pictures. Incidental acquisition of FL words was assessed the following day through an explicit learning task where participants learned to recognize translation equivalents, as well as one week later through recall and translation recognition tests. Results showed higher accuracy scores in the explicit learning task for FL words presented with meaning during incidental learning, whether written meaning or both written meaning and picture, than for FL words presented auditorily only. However, participants recalled significantly more FL words after a week delay if they had been presented with a picture during incidental learning. In addition, the time spent looking at the pictures during incidental learning significantly predicted recognition and recall scores one week later. Overall, results demonstrated the impact of exposure to multimodal stimuli on subsequent explicit learning, as well as the important role that pictorial information can play in incidental vocabulary acquisition. Bisson, M.-J., van Heuven, W.J.B., Conklin, K. and Tunney, R.J. (2015) The role of verbal and pictorial information in multi-modal incidental acquisition of foreign language vocabulary. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 68 (7), pp. 1306-1326

View all of Marie-Josee Bisson research outputs here

Key research outputs

  • Bisson, M-J. (2022). Learning words with unfamiliar orthography: The role of cognitive abilities. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 1–15. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0272263122000390
  • Toon, J., Bisson, M-J., Scase, M. & Kukona, A . (2022). Continuous cursor-captured conceptual competition: Investigating the spatiotemporal dynamics of spoken word comprehension. Memory & Cognition. https://doi.org/10.3758/s13421-022-01358-3
  • Kukona, A., Gaziano, O., Bisson, M.-J. & Jordan, A. (2022). Vocabulary knowledge predicts individual differences in the integration of visual and linguistic constraints. Language, Cognition and Neurosciences, 37, 750-765. https://doi.org/10.1080/23273798.2021.2020854.
  • Bisson, M.-J., Baker-Kukona, A. & Lengeris, A. (2021). An ear and eye for language: Mechanisms underlying second language word learning. Bilingualism, Language and Cognition. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S1366728920000723.
  • Younie, S., Mitchell, C., Bisson, M.-J., Crosby, S., Kukona, A., & Laird, K. (2020). Improving young children’s handwashing behaviour and understanding of germs: The impact of A Germ’s Journey educational resources in schools and public spaces. PloS One, 15(11: e0242134), 1–19. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0242134.
  • Bisson, M.-J, Gilmore, C., Inglis, M. & Jones, I. (2019). Teaching using contextualised and decontextualised representations: examining the case of differential calculus through a comparative judgement technique. Research in Mathematics Education, DOI: 10.1080/14794802.2019.1692060
  • Jones, I., Bisson, M.-J, Gilmore, C. & Inglis, M. (2019). Measuring conceptual understanding in randomised controlled trials: Can comparative judgement help? British Educational Research Journal, 45 (3), 662-680. https://doi.org/10.1002/berj.3519
  • Alcock, L., Ansari, D., Batchelor, S., Bisson, M.-J., De Smedt, B., Gilmore, C., ... Weber, K. (2016). Challenges in mathematical cognition: A collaboratively-derived research agenda. Journal of Numerical Cognition, 2 (1), 20-41. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.5964/jnc.v2i1.10
  • Bisson, M.-J., Gilmore, C., Inglis, M., &. Jones, I. (2016). Measuring conceptual understanding of mathematics using comparative judgement. International Journal of Research in Undergraduate Mathematics Education. doi:10.1007/s40753-016-0024-3
  • Bisson, M.-J., van Heuven, W.J.B., Conklin, K. & Tunney, R.J. (2015). The role of verbal and pictorial information in multi-modal incidental acquisition of foreign language vocabulary. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 68(7), 1306-1326. doi:10.1080/17470218.2014.979211
  • Bisson, M.-J., van Heuven, W.J.B., Conklin, K. & Tunney, R.J. (2014). The role of repeated exposure to multi-modal input in incidental acquisition of foreign language vocabulary. Language Learning, 64(4), 855-877. doi: 10.1111/lang.12085
  • Bisson, M.-J., van Heuven, W. J. B., Conklin, K., & Tunney, R. J. (2014). Processing of native and foreign language subtitles in films: An eye tracking study. Applied Psycholinguistics, 35(2), 399–418. doi:10.1017/S0142716412000434
  • Bisson, M.-J., van Heuven, W.J.B., Conklin, K. & Tunney, R.J. (2013). Incidental acquisition of foreign language vocabulary through brief multi-modal exposure. PLoS ONE. 8(4): e60912. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0060912

Research interests/expertise

  • Incidental and implicit learning of languages
  • First and second language acquisition
  • Individual differences
  • Bilingualism
  • Psycholinguistics
  • Mathematical Cognition

Areas of teaching

Cognitive Psychology

Research Methods

Qualifications

  • PhD Psychology
  • MSc Cognitive Neurosciences and Neuroimaging
  • BSc Psychology
  • PGCE Modern Foreign Languages
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

Courses taught

  • Introductory Research Methods in Psychology
  • Further Research Methods for Psychologists
  • Cognitive Psychology

Honours and awards

Janet Duffin Award in 2020 for the most significant contribution in Research in Mathematics Education for the article by: Bisson, M.-J, Gilmore, C., Inglis, M. & Jones, I. (2020). Teaching using contextualised and decontextualised representations: Examining the case of differential calculus through a comparative judgement technique. Research in Mathematics Education, 22(3), 284-303. https://doi.org/10.1080/14794802.2019.1692060.

Membership of professional associations and societies

  • Experimental Psychology Society 

Current research students

Josef Toon, Full-Time PhD student.

Externally funded research grants information

  1. Predictors of successful language learning, Experimental Psychology Society Small Grant Scheme, June 2016 - June 2018, Principal Investigator
  2. The role of orthography in adult foreign language learning, Language Learning Early Career Research Grant, September 2020-March 2023, Principal Investigator.
  3. The future is multilingual: Developing language skills and expanding research engagement, British Academy Talent Development Award, March 2022 - February 2023, Co-PI with Kaitlyn Zavaleta. 
MBisson