Humour in the classroom. How do we turn haha into AHA? This was my topic for the discussion forums. My first online forum facilitating gig. Lucky for me the topic was humour so it lightened things up a bit.
What is humour – what makes things funny? “humor involves the communication of multiple, incongruous meanings that are amusing in some manner” (Banas et al 2011, p. 117). It has also been defined as being a benign form of violation (see Peter McGraw TedX video link below). It’s basically a kind of communication that elicits a positive response such as laughter, joy or amusement.
Research shows that humour in a lesson can improve recall, build community, reduce stress and boost student learning (Banas et al, 2011). The appropriate use of humour is important. There are different types of humour and some are less appropriate than others, for example, sexually or racially offensive or aggressive humour is not. It was also suggested to avoid sarcasm (although some of my classmates did use it they said), forced or too much humour or culturally inappropriate humour. It is also advisable to use content-related humour.
From my discussion forum, it appears that one of the most frequently used types of humour in the classroom is the self-disparaging kind, where the instructor makes fun of themselves. Classmates also use puns, jokes, funny videos, comic strips, or memes to entertain and educate. It was strongly felt by all that humour, appropriately used and in small amounts, created a positive learning environment, allowing students to relax and feel comfortable. Indeed, scientific studies suggest that laughter activates the brain’s dopamine reward system, thus enhancing motivation and long term retention.
Other resources on humour:
Humber College, The Center for Teaching & Learning Article: Laugh and Learn. Retrieved from:
Stambor, Z., (2006). How laughing leads to learning: Research suggests that humor produces psychological and physiological benefits that help students learn. American Psychological Association: Monitor on Psychology, 37 (6), p. 62. Retrieved from:
Stambor, Z. (2006). The ‘Ham it up, how to’ Monitor on Psychology, 37: 6. Retrieved from: