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Authors' Class Standing

Carrie Sekeres, Senior

Lead Presenter's Name

Carrie Sekeres

Faculty Mentor Name

James Pembridge

Abstract

Humor has held a place in the repertoire of classroom instructors for some time, despite research in the area beginning less than five decades ago. The majority of this research focuses on the students’ perception of humor and not on the classroom implementation. To address this issue, research questions for the study included: 1) How do STEM faculty implement humor in a standard class session? 2) What is the difference between student engagement in classes that employ humor and those that do not? 3) What differences exist between the classes that use humor and those that do not with respect to other teaching techniques? 48 STEM classroom sessions were recorded and each minute of video was coded using the Teaching Dimensions Observation Protocol. Quantitative analysis included statistical comparisons between classes that use and don’t use humor and descriptive analyses of timing of the humor related to minutes elapsed. Temporal use of humor displayed clusters at the beginning of the class and between the 50% and 70% marks. Analyses also indicate that students in classes that include humor ask more questions than students in classes without humor. Additionally, classes with humor also contain more anecdotes, examples, and connections to student experience or the real world. An increase in questions asked during a class indicates higher student engagement, which, in other studies, has been found to correlate with increased knowledge retention and recall as well as increased student enjoyment of the class. The use of humor in the classroom can serve to increase student engagement, which leads to increased information retention, without sacrificing large amounts of time on activities and, in many cases, without planning on the part of the instructor, making it an invaluable tool in the collegiate STEM classroom.

Did this research project receive funding support (Spark or Ignite Grants) from the Office of Undergraduate Research?

No

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The Funny Thing About STEM

Humor has held a place in the repertoire of classroom instructors for some time, despite research in the area beginning less than five decades ago. The majority of this research focuses on the students’ perception of humor and not on the classroom implementation. To address this issue, research questions for the study included: 1) How do STEM faculty implement humor in a standard class session? 2) What is the difference between student engagement in classes that employ humor and those that do not? 3) What differences exist between the classes that use humor and those that do not with respect to other teaching techniques? 48 STEM classroom sessions were recorded and each minute of video was coded using the Teaching Dimensions Observation Protocol. Quantitative analysis included statistical comparisons between classes that use and don’t use humor and descriptive analyses of timing of the humor related to minutes elapsed. Temporal use of humor displayed clusters at the beginning of the class and between the 50% and 70% marks. Analyses also indicate that students in classes that include humor ask more questions than students in classes without humor. Additionally, classes with humor also contain more anecdotes, examples, and connections to student experience or the real world. An increase in questions asked during a class indicates higher student engagement, which, in other studies, has been found to correlate with increased knowledge retention and recall as well as increased student enjoyment of the class. The use of humor in the classroom can serve to increase student engagement, which leads to increased information retention, without sacrificing large amounts of time on activities and, in many cases, without planning on the part of the instructor, making it an invaluable tool in the collegiate STEM classroom.

 

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