Recently, scholarship on humour in teaching and learning has focused on the use of instructional humour. Past studies have reported that instructional humour is best used as a pedagogical tool for teaching and learning purposes. Nevertheless, how students perceive instructional humour and how humour enhances learning in the classroom is still not clear. This exploratory study aims to gain further understanding of students’ interpretation of teachers’ use of humour in relation to teaching and learning in a higher education context. In particular, it aims to explore the perspectives of students as to how the use of humour in the classroom enhances their learning. Data were collected from one-to-one in-depth interviews with 10 undergraduate students who were learning with award-winning teachers at a research-intensive university in New Zealand. Students explained a variety of ways in which humour enabled their process of learning. These included helping them to concentrate, remember and understand learning content by connecting humour to content. Additionally, a sense of rapport and positive attitude towards learning and the teacher were indicated as contributing to the learning environment. Our findings indicate that students considered instructional humour a tool that enhanced their learning cognitively and emotionally.
Bakar, F. A. (2019). ‘Appropriate and relevant humour in the university classroom: insights from teachers and students’. The European Journal of Humour Research 7 (4), pp.137-152. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.7592/EJHR2019.7.4.bakar.
Banas, J. A., Dunbar, N., Rodriguez, D. & Liu, S. J. (2011). ‘A review of humor in educational settings: Four decades of research’. Communication Education 60 (1), pp. 115-144. doi:10.1080/03634523.2010.496867.
Bellert, J. L. (1989). ‘Humor: A therapeutic approach in oncology nursing’. Cancer Nursing 12 (2), pp. 65-70.
Benjelloun, H. (2009). ‘An empirical investigation of the use of humor in university classrooms’. Education, Business and Society: Contemporary Middle Eastern Issues 2 (4), pp. 312-322. doi:10.1108/17537980911001134.
Berk, R. A. (1996). ‘Student ratings of 10 strategies for using humor in college teaching’. Journal on Excellence in College Teaching 7 (3), pp. 71-92.
Bolkan, S. & Goodboy, A. K. (2015). ‘Exploratory theoretical tests of the instructor humor–student learning link’. Communication Education 64 (1), pp. 45-64.
Carver, M. (2013). ‘Edgy humour in the classroom: A case study of risks and rewards’. Journal of Perspectives in Applied Academic Practice 1 (1), pp. 30-34. doi:10.14297/jpaap.v1i1.42.
Chabeli, M. (2008). ‘Humor: A pedagogical tool to promote learning’. Curationis 31, pp. 51-59.
Daumiller, M., Bieg, S., Dickhäuser, O. & Dresel, M. (2019). ‘Humor in university teaching: Role of teachers’ achievement goals and self-efficacy for their use of content-related humor’. Studies in Higher Education 44 (9), pp. 1-15.
Fried, C. B. (2008). ‘In-class laptop use and its effects on student learning’. Computers & Education 50 (3), pp. 906-914.
Garner, R. L. (2006). ‘Humor in pedagogy: How ha-ha can lead to aha!’. College Teaching 54 (1), pp. 177-180.
Houser, M. L., Cowan, R. L. & West, D. A. (2007). ‘Investigating a new education frontier: Instructor communication behavior in CD-ROM texts – do traditionally positive behaviors translate into this new environment?’. Communication Quarterly 55 (1), pp. 19-38.
Huss, J. A. (2008). ‘Getting serious about humour: Attitudes of secondary teachers toward the use of humour as a teaching strategy’. Journal of Ethnographic & Qualitative Research 3 (1), pp. 28-36.
Kaplan, R. M. & Pascoe, G. C. (1977). ‘Humorous lectures and humorous examples: Some effects upon comprehension and retention’. Journal of Educational Psychology 69 (1), pp. 61-65.
King, N. & Horrocks, C. (2010). Interviews in Qualitative Research. Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore, Washington DC, Melbourne: Sage.
Korobkin, D. (1988). ‘Humor in the classroom: Considerations and strategies’. College Teaching 36 (4), pp. 154-158.
Lomax, R. G. & Moosavi, S. A. (2002). ‘Using humor to teach statistics: Must they be orthogonal?’. Understanding Statistics: Statistical Issues in Psychology, Education, and the Social Sciences 1 (2), pp. 113-130.
Masek, A., Hashim, S. & Ismail, A. (2019). ‘Integration of humour approach with student’s engagement in teaching and learning sessions’. Journal of Education for Teaching 45 (2), pp. 228-233.
Miller, J. L., Wilson, K., Miller, J. & Enomoto, K. (2017). ‘Humorous materials to enhance active learning’. Higher Education Research & Development 36 (4), pp. 791-806.
Nesi, H. (2012). ‘Laughter in university lectures’. Journal of English for Academic Purposes 11 (2), pp. 79-89.
Petty, R. E. & Cacioppo, J. T. (1981). Attitudes and Persuasion: Classic and Contemporary approaches. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
Petty, R. E. & Cacioppo, J. T. (1986). ‘The elaboration likelihood model of persuasion’. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology 19, pp. 123-132.
Tait, G., Lampert, J., Bahr, N. & Bennett, P. (2015). ‘Laughing with the lecturer: The use of humour in shaping university teaching’. Journal of University Teaching & Learning Practice 12 (3), pp. 1-15.
Van Praag, L., Stevens, P. A. & Van Houtte, M. (2017). ‘How humor makes or breaks student-teacher relationships: A classroom ethnography in Belgium’. Teaching and Teacher Education 66, pp. 393-401.
Wanzer, M., Frymier, A. B. & Irwin, J. (2010). ‘An explanation of the relationship between instructor humor and student learning: Instructional humor processing theory’. Communication Education 59 (1), pp. 1-18.
Wrench, J. S. & Richmond, V. P. (2004). ‘Understanding the psychometric properties of the humor assessment instrument through an analysis of the relationships between teacher humor assessment and instructional communication variables in the college classroom’. Communication Research Reports 21 (1), pp. 92-103.
Zepke, N. & Leach, L. (2010). ‘Beyond hard outcomes: Soft outcomes and engagement as student success’. Teaching in Higher Education 15 (6), pp. 661-673.
Ziyaeemehr, A., Kumar, V. & Abdullah, M. (2011). ‘Use and non-use of humor in academic ESL classrooms’. English Language Teaching 4 (3), pp. 111-119.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Copyright (c) 2022 The European Journal of Humour Research