What do you work on?
I am studying the impact of classroom noise on learning in elementary school. More specifically, I am trying to better understand why some children are more sensitive to noise than others.
“Children in their early elementary school years who experience interference at the Flanker task are especially impaired by noise when performing a creativity task.”
What did you do using Gorilla?
For now, I can mainly talk about two results we found with Gorilla:
- Throughout my PhD, I used an attentional task called the Flanker task. It measures how fast children react to a simple visual object in the presence, or in the absence of distractors. On average, children take longer to answer when there are distractors, but this difference is very small (around 100ms). Using data from more than 200 children, we checked that we could detect this difference when testing online, with Gorilla. That was the case!
- Furthermore, one of my study showed that children in their early elementary school years who experience interference at the Flanker task are especially impaired by noise when performing a creativity task.
Has this study been published?
- Results from the first study (Flanker task) have been published in Behavior Research Methods here.
- Our study on classroom noise and creativity has been published in Frontiers in Psychology here.
“I think Gorilla is a wonderful opportunity for students and early career researchers to design their project without the barrier of learning how to program.”
Did you include any special features in your study to ensure good quality data? If so, what did you do?
I was constantly staying with children when they did the activities, so I did not add specific features in my task to check whether they were focused / engaged. However, I made sure I always had a back-up router to have a reliable internet connection: the wifi in schools can be busy and we needed accurate measurements. It turned out that my cell phone was a better back-up than a specific and more expensive router!
For you, what is the stand-out feature in Gorilla?
I think Gorilla is a wonderful opportunity for students and early career researchers to design their project without the barrier of learning how to program. In general, and also for more experienced researchers, the task builder allows to save a good amount of time that can be invested in data analyses and writing. But the biggest promise that Gorilla represents, in my view, is the potential to create a common database to share psychological tasks between and within research teams. This would allow for more transparency, a more coherent comparison between studies, and would promote replicability.
How did Gorilla make your life or research better, easier or faster?
Gorilla allowed me to create my experimental tasks early on during my PhD, using the task builder. This allowed me to save considerable amounts of time, although I still wanted to stretch my coding skills by using the code editor for some tasks.
Knowing that I would have a backup of my data online was also reassuring.
How do you think online research is going to change your field?
One of the first advantages of online research I can think of is the possibility to recruit broad samples of participants, all around the world. This would help to have more representative samples, beyond WEIRD (Western, Educated, Industrialised, Rich and Democratic) participants and University students. However, putting research online is not the only factor to make it happen. We also need to communicate through various media and make sure that people have access to research beyond academic circles.
Furthermore, I think online research can lead us to redefine some of our measures. If you think about data collected via applications on smartphones, you can ask people questions about their everyday life, as they are doing their everyday activities. I’m thinking about some research, for example, on happiness, where people rated how they felt when being engaged in various activities. You don’t need to bring them to the lab, and you can ask them questions in context. However, we need to be extra-careful about the Ethics here, and make sure data collection is not too intrusive.
“Noise is a problem often brought up by teachers. However, we don’t know much about why some children are more affected by noise than others.”
What challenges are you facing in your area of behavioural science?
I have been thinking a lot about the relationships between the cognitive measures we use in our research (i.e. Flanker task), and whether/how the processes we are measuring relate to participants’ real-life and understanding of how they learn. Communicating about the “real-life” impact of our research is more or less a priority depending on the field and topic we are working in, but in Education, I think it is very important. And I came to realise how difficult it was to unify measures from computerised tests, questionnaires, and live observations!
Who or what originally inspired you to work in your field of research?
I got this PhD by applying to a grant advertised by Denis Mareschal and Natasha Kirkham, at Birkbeck University. I really like this topic because everyone has an opinion about how noise affects them (e.g. If they prefer to work in a library, or in a cafe). It was also very important to me to work in the field of education, and to be able to collaborate with teachers and elementary school children. Noise is a problem often brought up by teachers. However, we don’t know much about why some children are more affected by noise than others.
I discovered while doing my research that I was pretty sensitive to noise, so it might explain why I got attracted to this topic!
When you’re not working, what do you enjoy doing?
Cooking (yes, I’m French), swimming and doing yoga.
What advice would you give to someone starting out in behavioural science/research?
As a PhD student, I would highly recommend to organize informal meetings with other early career researchers. It really allowed me to share questions, doubts and comments in a safe and friendly environment. It is a wonderful way to receive advice and to get to know resources you would not know otherwise. Many of these colleagues have now became good friends and/or collaborators on scientific projects.