A funny thing happened on the way to the hippocampus: the effects of humor on student achievement and memory retention


Research literature relating to the use of humor as a teaching method or curricula specifically designed to include humor was reviewed to investigate the effects of humor on student learning in various environments from elementary schools to post-secondary classrooms. In this multi-method study, four instruments and a humor treatment were selected to test the hypothesis that students who receive humor-embedded instruction would perform better on assessments than students who did not receive humor instruction. These assessments were analyzed to show student growth in achievement and memory retention as a result of humor-embedded instruction. Gain scores between a pre-test and two post-tests determined student growth in achievement and memory retention. Gain scores were triangulated with student responses to open-ended interview questions about their experiences with humor in the classroom. The gain score data were not statistically significant between the humor and non-humor groups. For the short-term memory gain scores, the non-humor group received slightly higher gain scores. For long-term memory gain scores, the humor group received higher gain scores. However, the interview data was consistent with the findings of humor research from the last 20 years that humor improves learning directly and indirectly.

This publication has been peer reviewed.
Publication Type: 
Melissa Lee McCartney Matthews
Year of Publication: 
Journal, Book, Magazine or Other Publication Title: 
ProQuest LLC, Ed.D. Dissertation
Publication Language: 
ISBN Number: 
Boyer's Domain: 



Journal of Leadership Studies-Symposium Piece-Relational Leadership: Perspectives of Key Constructs on Diversity, Inclusion, and Social Equity in Higher Education

Psychology Today
Blog Posts Published


American Psychological Association Conference-Utilizing Clinical Hypnotherapeutic Intervention with CBT to Treat Pandemic-Aug. 13-2021 Symptomology

ILA Conference Geneva Switzerland 2021
Presenter -Topic-"The Stress Arc in Leadership and 3 Powerful Disciplines for Mitigating Major Stress Impacts in a New Era"-Upcoming
Presenter -Topic-“Improving Higher Education’s Role in Diversity and Social Equity through Relational Leadership in the New Era”-Upcoming
Presenter-Topic-"Healthcare Leadership-Using Virtuous Leadership in Chaos to Reimagine Beneficial Practices of Employee Cognitive Psychology"-Upcoming
2021-Knowledge Without Boundaries National Summit-College of Doctoral Studies Research Conference-University of Phoenix-Panel Discussion-"Exploring Emergent Trends in Leadership and Education"-Based on published symposia article from the Journal of Leadership Studies- https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/jls.21734