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Dr Jessica Massonnie


I discovered Psychology during my Undergraduate Studies at the University Paris Ouest, Nanterre LaDéfense, where I specialised in Child Development. I committed to work with and for children after my very first placements in schools and research laboratories. These experiences convinced me of the importance of studying child development both on a social and intellectual level. I believe that adults have a duty of care towards children, and research allows us to have a space to reflect on the best conditions we can offer for children to thrive. The intellectual richness of working with children also struck me, as they are not simply 'mini adults' but individuals experiencing complex developmental changes and needs. 

I consolidated my research skills by completing a Research Master in Cognitive Sciences in Paris. The program spanned across three high-quality institutions (Ecole Normale Supérieure, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Université Paris Descartes) which allowed me to approach different levels of investigation, encompassing Education, Psychology, Neuroscience and Philosophy. During my Masters studies I co-created a charity called CogniJunior which aimed at disseminating knowledge about cognitive science to children and teachers. On the research side, I studied the longitudinal development of language skills among primary school children, within the Laboratory of Educational Sciences at the Université Grenoble Alpes. I also travelled to the United Kingdom for the first time and established connections with the Centre for Educational Neuroscience in London, which gathers researchers from Birkbeck College and University College London. 

This visit convinced me to start and complete a PhD in Psychological Sciences at Birkbeck College, under the supervision of Prof Denis Mareschal and Prof Natasha Kirkham. I published several studies looking at the impact of classroom noise on school performance in primary school. I particularly enjoyed working with educators and combined experimental methods with studies in classrooms. The collaborative project we built with Philippe Frasetto, a primary school teacher based in Corsica won the Early Career Public Engagement Award from Birkbeck University in 2019.

In the year 2019/2020, I took on various teaching and research positions across Birkbeck College and the Institute of Education at University College London. I taught Research Methods, delivered Guest Lectures and supervised Dissertations at the Postgraduate level. I investigated oral language skills upon school entry with Prof Julie Dockrell, Dr Emma Sumner and Dr Anna Llaurado. I was the EARLI SIG 22 “Neuroscience and Education” JURE coordinator in the period 2019-2021. In 2021 I joined the Action Against Stunting research project, investigating the impact of growth impairment on child development using a multi-disciplinary and international perspective, before undertaking my current Lectureship at the University of Portsmouth. 

Research interests

My specialism is in Developmental Psychology. I do participatory, school-based research, collaborating with teachers and pupils. I am a Chartered Member of the British Psychological Society (CPsychol).

  • How do we learn? Investigating teachers' and children's needs to support school-based research on the Science of Learning.
  • How do we learn? Evaluating the impact of Science of Learning workshops with children.
  • Tuning in and Tuning out: Individual differences in children's sensitivity to noise. [Open to neurodiversity]


Teaching responsibilities

Within the School of Education and Sociology, I am the Module Coordinator for 'Child and Youth Development' (Undergraduate, Level 4) and 'Issues Relating to Children and Young People's Mental Health' (Undergraduate, Level 6).

I also contribute to the following modules:

  • Introduction to Social Psychology (Undergraduate, Level 4)
  • Creative Research Methods in Psychology (Undergraduate, Level 4)

I supervise Dissertations, both at the Undergraduate (Level 6) and Postgraduate (Level 7) levels.

In the past, I have been teaching Research Methods for Undergraduate (Level 6) and Postgraduate (Level 7) students within the Department of Psychological Sciences at Birkbeck, University of London. I have also supervised Dissertations at the Postgraduate level (Level 7) at University College London (MA Special and Inclusive Education, MSc Developmental and Educational Psychology, MSc Psychology of Education, MA Education, MSc Child Development). 

Media availability

I am open to receive inquiries from the media.