Tag Archives: Humor; Lecture; Comprehension

Using Humor in the Classroom

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Submitted by Tarah Raldiris

Article Reference

Hackathorn, J., Garczynski, A. M., Blankmeyer, K., Tennial, R. D., & Solomon, E. D. (2011). All kidding aside: Humor increases learning at knowledge and comprehension levels.  Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 11, 116-123.

Article DOI

Summary of Article

The purpose of this study was to research the effects of humor on the learning of concepts within a classroom environment. The authors were interested in studying the effect of humor on three levels of thought as described by Bloom’s taxonomy: knowledge, comprehension, and application. The researchers hypothesized that students would score higher on measurements of knowledge, comprehension, and application for concepts taught with humor than for concepts taught without humor.  Further, it was hypothesized that humor would have the greatest beneficial effect on scores for comprehension. With a sample of N = 51, the authors used a within-subjects design to compare the scores for concepts learned with humor to scores on concepts learned without humor. Partially supporting their hypotheses, results indicated that students performed significantly better on measurements of knowledge and comprehension for the concepts taught with humor versus without humor, but no significant effect of humor was seen for application. As predicted, for the concepts taught with humor, scores for comprehension were significantly greater than scores for knowledge. This study added to the literature by being the first to measure the effect of humor on higher order levels of thought for concepts learned within an actual classroom environment.


Discussion Questions

  1. What are your personal opinions or experiences of a professor using humor in the classroom? Do you feel it assisted in learning the material? Do you feel it affected other aspects of the learning environment (e.g. class attendance rates, attention to material, perception of the overall course, etc.)?
  2. Consider a specific class you are teaching/TAing for, or a class you hope to teach in the future: What are some ways that you might try incorporating humor into your lecture? Any fears or concerns regarding applying humor to the course?
  3. Do you think all types of humor are equally effective? Can you think of any examples when humor may actually be detrimental to the student’s learning and the classroom environment in general?