Professor Michel Fayol

Professor Michel Fayol (website) – to be confirmed
Blaise Pascal University at Clermont-Ferrand

Michel Fayol obtained his PhD in Psychology at the University of Bordeaux in 1976. He has been Assistant Professor at the University of Montpellier in 1977, then Full Professor at the University of Bourgogne at Dijon from 1981 to 1998 and Full Professor at Clermont University, since 1998. His research focuses on the acquisition, learning and use of symbolic systems: writing, counting and drawing. The studies of written includes reading, but he is mainly focused on written production (texts but also words, including spelling). The studies of numeration systems address both the beginning of calculation (counting) and later activity (transcoding, through international comparisons) and more complex, such as solving arithmetic problems. One of the favourite themes is the management by individuals of operations or problems and the effects of capacity limits on activity.

Load in writing

Over the last 30 years, many studies have examined the composition of written text. The main problem people are faced with in written composition concerns the on-line management of several subcomponent skills which have to be coordinated in order to reach the goal: namely, to produce a coherent and cohesive text adapted to an audience. Two points are worth noting: on the one hand, composing is a complex task which needs to be analyzed into subcomponents to be studied, and most if not all of these subcomponents make some demands on cognitive resources and have access to a general limited pool of cognitive resources; on the other hand, the writers adapt to manage the competing demands of the different subcomponents. In the following talk, we will first provide some empirical evidences in order to support this conception.

Since 1995, several paradigms have been used aimed at studying both the cognitive cost and the time course of text production: namely, the measurement of reaction time to secondary tasks and of processing time, pauses and writing rates. We will first review the main trends and results from these studies. We will then go a step further, discussing the question of the on-line management of text production. We will present new data regarding the dynamics of cognitive processes during writing. More precisely, we will report data showing the occurrence of parallel and serial effects in written text production: preprocessing of (some properties of) word n + 1 when word n is being written, and properties of word n – 1 still exert their influence while the pen has already moved to the next word.


Alamargot, D. & Fayol, M. (2009). Modelling the development of written composition. In  R. Beard, D. Myhill, M.Nystrand & J. Riley (Eds). Handbook of Writing Development (pp. 23-47). Sage. United Kingdom.

Bourdin, B. & Fayol, M. (2002). Even in adults, written production is still more costly than oral production. International Journal of Psychology, 37, 219-22

Chanquoy, L;, Foulin, J.N. & Fayol, M. (1990). The temporal management of short text writing by children and adults. European Bulletin of Cognitive Psychology, 10, 513-540.

Fayol, M. (1999). From on-line management problems to strategies in written composition. In M. Torrance & G. Jeffery (Ed.), The cognitive demands of writing. Amsterdam : Amsterdam University Press.

Fayol, M. (2012). Cognitive processes of children and adults in translating thoughts into written language in real time. In V.W. Berninger (Ed.), Past, present, and future contributions of cognitive writing research to cognitive psychology (pp. 27-39). New York : Psychology Press.

Fayol, M., Foulin, J-N., Maggio, S., & Lété, B. (2011). Towards a dynamic approach of how children and adults manage text production. In Grigorenko, E., Mambrino, E. & Preiss, D.D. (Eds.). Handbook of writing: a mosaic of perspectives. New York: Psychology Press.

Fayol, M., Largy, P. & Lemaire, P. (1994). Subject- verb agreeement errors in French. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 47A, 437-464.

Fayol, M. & Lété, B. (2012). Contributions of online studies to understanding translation from ideas to written text. In M. Fayol, D. Alamargot, & V. Berninger, V. (2012). Translation of thoughts to written text while composing : Advancing theory, knowledge, methods, and applications (pp. 289-313). New York : Psychology Press.

Fayol, M. & Miret, A. (2005). Écrire, orthographier et rédiger des textes. Psychologie Française, 50, 391-402.

Kandel, S., Grosjacques, G.,Peereman, R., & Fayol, M. (2011). The syllable-bigram controversy in handwriting production. Journal of Experimental Psychology:Human Perception and Performance, 37 (4), 1310–1322.

Maggio, S., Lété, B., Chenu, F., Jisa, H., & Fayol, M. (2012 in press). Tracking the mind during writing: Immediacy, Delayed, and Anticipatory Effects on Pauses and Writing Rate. Reading and Writing