Marie Létang



Ph.D student

Paris University

From the lab to the classroom: A participatory science project on inhibitory control via the digital pedagogical and collaborative network

Supervised by Olivier Houdé


In their everyday life, people use shortcuts to rapidly respond and adapt to their environment. However, these automatic and intuitive strategies, called "heuristics" (by Kahneman), can sometimes be misleading. In such cases, it is very important to inhibit these heuristics and rather use a slower and more thoughtful algorithmic strategy. The inhibitory control (IC) is daily essential, especially regarding school learnings. Thereby, many studies tried different ways to train this ability. However, none of them involved teachers themselves adopting an experimental method to evaluate the effects of a pedagogical intervention on children in their own classroom, while participatory projects permitted to bridge the gap between researchers and non-researchers. Thus, the aims of the present thesis was 1) to prove that it was possible to conduct a participatory science project with teachers by training IC abilities of school-aged children in their classroom, 2) to identify specific heuristics errors committed by children in their school learnings as well as their respective developmental periods, and 3) to propose IC interventions focused on these heuristics. The results of the first study proved that a large scale online participatory research was efficient to improve school-aged children's IC abilities and to bridge the gap between the lab and the classroom. The second study permitted to identify new school heuristics thanks to teacher's observations of their 2nd to 5th grade pupils and precised the period when they were most prone to make these systematics errors. Finally, in the third and fourth studies, we demonstrated that a specific training of IC both in arithmetic word problems on school-aged children (7 to 10 years-old) and in the well-known Piagetian conservation number task on preschool children, permitted to overcome heuristics errors. To our knowledge, this is the first participatory research of this nature.

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Letang, M. (2021) Allers-retours du labo à la classe : Faire de la recherche participative sur le contrôle inhibiteur via la plateforme numérique [Doctoral Dissertation, Paris University]

Letang, M., Citron, P., Garbarg‐Chenon, J., Houdé, O. & Borst, G. (2020). Bridging the Gap between the Lab and the Classroom: An Online Citizen Scientific Research Project with Teachers Aiming at Improving Inhibitory Control of School‐Age Children. Mind, Brain, and Education. 15(1). 10.1111/mbe.12272. 


Rossi, S., Vidal, J., Létang, M., Houdé, O. Borst, G. (2019). Adolescents and adults need inhibitory control to compare fractions. Journal of Numerical Cognition, 5(3), 314-336.