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Dr Marie-Josee Bisson

Job: VC2020 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



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Personal profile

Dr Bisson’s research focuses on facilitating learning. She has worked primarily on facilitating foreign language learning through informal exposures (incidental learning). Her research has used multi-modal situations such as films with subtitles, and more simple situations involving single words and pictures to study the incidental acquisition of foreign language vocabulary.  Dr Bisson is also 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.

A second 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.

Her other research interests include 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.

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

Key research outputs

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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:
  • 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


  • 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

Membership of professional associations and societies

  • Experimental Psychology Society 

Current research students

Josef Toon, Full-Time PhD student, 2nd supersivor.

Externally funded research grants information

Predictors of successful language learning, Experimental Psychology Society Small Grant Scheme, June 2016 - June 2018, Principal Investigator

The role of orthography in adult foreign language learning, Language Learning Early Career Research Grant, September 2020-August 2021, Principal Investigator.