Humorous materials to enhance active learning

J. L. Miller, K. Wilson, J. Miller, K. Enomoto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


The use of humour in teaching and learning can be contentious, with some authors suggesting that the efficacy of humorous materials is mediated by the culture of the student. Nevertheless, humour represents a potential vehicle for the introduction of active learning in a classroom setting, as judicious use of humour may lead to a more relaxed learning atmosphere and greater student engagement. This article describes how humour was used to good effect in creating a suite of online materials designed to enhance the academic English skills of international students. The materials, funded through a grant from the Office for Learning and Teaching and now openly accessible on the English for Uni website, were developed using an action research process. This involved an iterative process of designing, trialling and evaluating the resources to ensure that humour was used appropriately. In the final stages, Biggs’ Structure of the Observed Learning Outcome taxonomy was also used to evaluate student learning. The results show that the materials improved students’ understanding of the topics presented on the site and that the element of humour stimulated student interest in learning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)791-806
Number of pages16
JournalHigher Education Research and Development
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jun 2017


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