humor in the classroom
Numerous studies on humor in the classroom acknowledge the important role it plays in the learning process. Humor has been reported to increase motivation, enhance the retention of new information, advance problem-solving skills, encourage creativity and critical thinking, facilitate a positive learning environment, and decrease exam anxiety (Martin, 2007). Given its importance, I’d like to suggest several ways to energize your college classroom with humor.
You have to admire scholars willing to look at 40 years of research on any topic, and this particular review is useful to faculty interested in understanding the role of humor in education. It starts with definitions, functions, and theories of humor. It identifies a wide range of different types of humor. It reviews empirical findings, including the all-important question of whether using humor helps students learn. And finally, this 30-page review concludes with concrete advice and suggestions for future research. It’s one of those articles that belong in even modest instructional libraries—imagine having to track down the better-than-100 references in the bibliography.
The December issue of The Teaching Professor newsletter contains a piece highlighting a review of research article on humor. It’s so impressive I decided I’d mention of few of its features and findings in this post.
Humor, whether in the form of jokes, riddles, puns, funny stories, humorous comments or other humorous items, builds a bond between the instructor and students; bridging the student-teacher gap by allowing students to view the instructor as more approachable. A number of researchers have found that humor is instrumental in creating an inviting classroom environment, reducing stress, improving attention, enhancing learning, creating a positive emotional and social environment, reducing anxiety, enhancing self-esteem, and increasing self-motivation.
The contribution that humor makes to student learning is well established in research. It is not that humor causes learning; rather, it helps to create conditions conducive to learning. It helps learners relax, alleviates stress, and often makes it easier for students and teachers to connect personally. The presence of humor in a classroom can