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Exploring Student Engagement and Middle-School Students' Perceptions of Humor Used As a Teaching Tool

<p> As students progress from elementary to high school grades, academic disengagement becomes increasingly evident. In studies with college-aged students, humor has been effectively utilized as a tool in the classroom to stimulate engagement and enhance the learning of class material. The purpose of this qualitative single-case study was to explore the extent to which humor could be used as a viable teaching tool in the middle school classroom to increase student engagement. The research question focused on the perspectives of 10 middle-school students on the use of humor in an eighth-grade English class, in a suburban community in the Capital Region of New York State. Data collection methods included interviews using semi-structured questions and follow-up probes, based on an existing survey protocol by Makewa, Role, and Genga (2011), observations, and student daily journal entries. Eight themes emerged, including two that could not be triangulated. The following themes emerged: teacher chosen humorous media used as a tool for instruction; humor used as a tool to convey content knowledge; humor as a tool for redirection; subjective nature of humor; jokes as an instructional tool; humorous stories used as an instructional tool; humor appropriate for middle-school students; and the effect of humor on learning. Literature from previous studies on the benefits of humor in the classroom supported the findings in this study. Data analyses revealed that middle-school students perceived humor as a viable instructional tool that had positive effects on their academic engagement, including increases in the desire to be present in class, attentiveness to tasks, motivation, understanding and recall of concepts; decreases in boredom were also noted. Recommendations for future application included professional development on the use of humor in the classroom. Future research should include study in other grade levels and with a diverse range of student populations to better generalize the findings of this study.</p>
Date08 June 2017
CreatorsGingold Seaman, Linda
PublisherNorthcentral University
Detected LanguageEnglish

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