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 

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


  • 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.