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Fun Facts About Comedy In Educational Settings: Studies Discussed in Episode 2 of (mostly) TRUE THINGS podcast

Episode 2 of the (mostly) TRUE THINGS podcast featured an interview and story by the hilarious and always-interesting comic Stevie GB, who took this "3 studies" quiz about research into the role of laughter in learning very, very seriously. He analyzed each one in a very thoughtful, as well as entertaining, way. Maybe its just fun to listen to him talk and to his mental process. You can hear the podcast by clicking on the link above, and then check out this interesting research about the very serious way that humor boosts learning, reduces anxiety and stress in the classroom, and encourages students to take initiative in their education.
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One study pointing to humor's benefits appeared in College Teaching (Vo. 54, No. 1, pages 177-180).  This research showed that students were more likely to remember information shared in a statistics lecture when it was laced with relevant comedy. ""Well-planned, appropriate, contextual humor can help students ingrain information," explains Dr. Randy Garner, Phd, who conducted and published the research. In his introduction to psychology course Dr. Garner uses TV programs like the audition episodes from "American Idol" to demonstrate such psychological concepts as self-handicapping and selection bias.

A 2012 study published in the journal Humor: International Journal of Humor Research found that students performed better on a math test - because they felt less anxiety - after being exposed to comedic material both prior to taking the test and through funny test items inserted into it. 

A study published in the journal Communication Education - reported here in an article titled "How Laughter Leads To Learning" on the website of the American Psychological Association - found that students perceive instructors who are funny as being more competent. The authors point out that delivery of the comedic material matters,that to be effective it has to be relevant to the material and make it more memorable, as well as lighten the mood in the classroom. 

Communications researcher Jennings Bryant, PhD, who worked as a script consultant for Sesame Street and The Electric Company and is now with the Institute for Communications Research at the University of Alabama and his colleague Dolf Zillman, Phd of Indiana University published the results of their examination of 22 studies that looked at the impact of humor used in educational settings. Their findings definitely support the use of humor that is "attuned to the audience's knowledge." 

So teachers, trainers, educators at every level - feel free to bring the funny to the classroom and improve students' retention and memory while keeping a positive energy to the entire learning process. Stories, even serious ones with a big moral or message, are enhanced by inserting laughs into them along the way. If you want some inspiration, go see Stevie GB in one of his upcoming shows! Follow him on his Facebook page to keep up with all of his shows. 

Be sure to look for Episode 3 of (mostly) TRUE THINGS podcast to find out whether Stevie was telling an entirely or mostly true story in Episode 2.



Jude Treder-Wolff is the host and creator of (mostly) TRUE THINGS the storytelling show and podcast. She is a consultant/trainer and writer/performer. Follow her on Twitter @JuTrWolff.

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