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The impact of integrated humor on memory retention and recall aspects of adult learning

Dissertation
Author: Robbie Reese Fitzpatrick
Abstract:
The present study tested the hypothesis that humor directly integrated with targeted material positively impacts memory retention and recall. The rationale underlying the hypothesis is based on findings of neurological studies and behavioral research on humor. Participants were 56 students in three online Freshman English classes at a local community college. Building on the information learned from previous empirical research and incorporating evidence revealed by neurological inquiries, this project provided each class of students with one of three different versions of declarative grammar material presented as an interactive pronoun instruction module: without humor, with non-integrated humor, or with integrated humor. Assessments included a pre-test to determine prior knowledge. Following review of the module, the recall of students' memory of the targeted material was tested through an objective exam. After a longer period of time (five weeks), which included using the newly learned material in writing assignments unrelated to the study, students were tested again to evaluate their longer-term retention. The analysis of the scores was a two-way 2X3 analysis of variance (ANOVA). A significant difference in improvement of memory with a 95% confidence level was shown for participants in the Integrated Humor condition as compared to those in either the No Humor or the Non-Integrated Humor conditions in both the Immediate Post-Test (0.00, 0.02) and the Delayed Post-Test (0.00, 0.00). Although the sample was small, the results support the hypothesis that humor integrated with learning material can beneficially impact memory and recall.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Page ABSTRACT ............................................................................................................... iii DEDICATION ........................................................................................................... v TABLE OF CONTENTS ........................................................................................... vi LIST OF FIGURES ................................................................................................... viii LIST OF TABLES ..................................................................................................... ix CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION: WHY STUDY HUMOR AND MEMORY .......... 1

Statement of the Problem ................................................................. 1 Definition of Learning as Utilized in This Study ............................ 2 Definition of Humor ....................................................................... 6 Insights from Neurological and Cognitive Research on Humor and Learning: The Case for Integrated Humor .............................. 11 Purpose of the Study ....................................................................... 11

II INTEGRATING HUMOR INTO LEARNING MATERIAL .............. 13 Review of Empirical Studies .......................................................... 13 Summary ......................................................................................... 26 Rationale for Using Grammar as a Prototype ................................. 26 Putting Answers to Work ................................................................ 27

III METHODS .......................................................................................... 28 Participants ...................................................................................... 28 Research Design.............................................................................. 28 Materials ......................................................................................... 29 Procedures ....................................................................................... 37 Data Analysis .................................................................................. 39

IV RESULTS ............................................................................................. 40

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Page CHAPTER

V CONCLUSION: DISCUSSION ........................................................... 47

Summary ........................................................................................ 47 Interpretation of Results ................................................................. 47 Contributions .................................................................................. 51 Limitations ..................................................................................... 52 Recommendations for Further Research ........................................ 52

REFERENCES .......................................................................................................... 54 APPENDIX A ............................................................................................................ 61 APPENDIX B ............................................................................................................ 62 APPENDIX C ............................................................................................................ 63 APPENDIX D ............................................................................................................ 66 APPENDIX E ............................................................................................................ 68 APPENDIX F............................................................................................................. 70 APPENDIX G ............................................................................................................ 81 VITA .......................................................................................................................... 82

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LIST OF FIGURES

FIGURE Page 1 Drawing: Example of Graphic for Non-Integrated Humor ........................ 31

2 Drawing: Example of Graphic for Integrated Humor ................................ 31

3 Line Chart: Scores of Three Treatments by Three Assessments ............... 44

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LIST OF TABLES

TABLE Page

1 Sample Size and Group Allocation ............................................................. 29

2 Comparison of Student Ratings of Integrated and Non-Integrated Humor Examples ........................................................................................ 32

3 Spacing of Humorous/Non-Humorous Insertions ...................................... 33

4 General Descriptive Statistics of Results .................................................... 41

5 ANOVA Summary Table Showing Lack of Difference Among Groups in Pre-Test ...................................................................................... 42

6 Two-Way ANOVA Summary Table Displaying Results of Analysis of Immediate Post-Test and Delayed Post-Test Scores .............................. 42

7 Results of Scheffe Post Hoc Test Showing Significance For Treatment.............................................................................................. 45

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CHAPTER I

INTRODUCTION: WHY STUDY HUMOR AND MEMORY

As the advance of technology has opened more avenues of access, research has revealed beneficial impacts of humor. Psychologically, humor can improve mental functioning (Berk, 2001). Physically, it can stimulate circulation and improve respiration. Research has shown that the use of humor can contribute to improved immune systems, and the release of endorphins from laughter has even been shown to reduce pain (Berk, 2001). Socially, humor is used to both define and control groups (Fine & De Soucey, 2005), and in the classroom, the use of humor can reduce anxiety and help develop a sense of community (Rhem, 1998). Humor has also been shown as a tool for coping (Goodenough & Ford, 2005). Statement of the Problem In the continuing study of humor, however, its use to enhance learning still remains a relatively understudied issue (Krishnan & Chakravarti, 2003). Despite the intuitive belief that humor is conducive to learning, the results of behavioral research on the effects of humor on memory are inconclusive. A review of this research suggests that the mere introduction of humor into the learning environment is insufficient to ensure an improved outcome but humor presented in specific ways is likely to improve memory and recall.

____________ This dissertation follows the style of American Education Research Journal.

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Definition of Learning as Utilized in This Study In order to discuss the role of humor in learning, it is important to specify the definition of “learning” applied in this study, isolating it from a multitude of interpretations, particularly within the educational arena. The definition of "learning" employed in this investigation is best stated as "the act, process, or experience of gaining knowledge or skill" (learning, 2000). Other areas of behavioral study may apply alternative definitions in order to focus on various aspects of learning, education, or behavior. However, at a basic cognitive level, learning is interpreted as the acquisition of new information. A strong rationale for focusing on this fundamental level of learning is found within Bloom's taxonomy of educational objectives, which constitutes the organization of what should be part of instructional curriculums (Krathwohl, 2002). In the complete table, Bloom divides learning into the cognitive, affective, and psychomotor domains. Within the cognitive domain, there are six categories: knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation (Bloom, Englehart, Furst, Hill, & Krathwohl, 1956). Not only are the categories ordered from simple to complex and concrete to abstract, but they also represent a hierarchy, each level mastered becoming more and more complex (Krathwohl, 2002). On a practical level, there needs to be some information "learned" before higher level thinking is carried out. A central objective of education is to provide students with the tools necessary to carry out reasoning and problem solving. A major contributor to success in both these areas is sufficient domain-specific knowledge, or information that is particularly relevant to the area in study (domain) (Gagne, Yekovich, C., & Yekovich, F., 1993). A second reason for concentrating on such a basic definition of learning involves the cognitive definition,

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in which new information cannot be merely acquired; it must also be retained. Once retained, it is there for higher level thinking, problem solving, or transfer. Summary of the Process of Acquiring Knowledge. Since much of the rationale for the treatment in this research study is taken from research of how the brain works, especially how it learns, a very brief summary of how the brain acquires information is appropriate. While preferences for types of instruction, personal abilities, and levels and diversity of experiences may differ among individuals, particular brain achievements, including the production of speech and the acquisition of information, are convincingly inherited. In other words, how people learn, on a cognitive level, is all the same (Carter, 1999; Klemm, 2004). There are two types of knowledge that we learn: 1) declarative, or factual, and 2) procedural, or how to do something. Although there are some similarities between the two areas, this study focuses on declarative knowledge, which includes the learning of facts, definitions, and rules. While the process of acquiring knowledge is complex and still not completely understood, at a truly basic level, the progression is straightforward: information is received through any of the five senses and registered in immediate memory. Selective perception determines what information remains active in working memory and what information will be lost (Gagne et al, 1993). Either information selected to stay in working memory is held and rehearsed until it can be moved to long-term memory, where it is stored for later use, or it is not rehearsed and so dissipates within about 10 seconds (Gagne et al, 1993).

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The steps of this process may appear to be straightforward, but the factors influencing the process are incredibly intricate, and so the actual progression becomes complicated. For example, the brain is discriminatory about what it commits to memory, using selective attention to filter out incoming material, thus allowing the storage of information tied to what is being held in working memory (Gagne et al, 1993; Leahy & Harris, 2001; Soto, Hodsoll, Rotshtein, & Humphreys, 2008) or what is important to survival (Carter, 1999). Selective processing can be influenced either by factors people are born with or by knowledge learned through experience or study. Information moved from working memory to long-term memory is what is paid particular attention to; the amount or the necessary focus of that attention is still being studied. The assertion that increasing the attention on input can amplify the memorization, or learning, of that information has been and continues to be crucial in education, psychology, cognitive science, and neurology. Once in long-term memory, without any use or further rehearsal, information may still be lost (Gagne et al, 1993). Questions about memory that have been answered only recently or are still being investigated include the precise location of memory storage, what factors impinge or enhance memory storage, what factors affect elaboration, how emotion impacts memory, and what improvements, either behavioral, mechanical, or chemical could improve memory. As science has progressed, much has been learned about how the brain “learns,” and many of the discoveries have altered early theories of memory. One revised position involves new information received by one or more of the senses and then held in working memory before being moved to long-term memory.

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Long-held theories about the necessity of attention are being challenged and investigated. In his book on memory, Klemm (2004) stresses how important paying attention is to the encoding of memory, which, in turn, impacts memory establishment. Although attention may be divided, with the increase of complexity of information held in working memory, i.e., memory load, the encoding process is affected (Lozito & Mulligan, 2006). The limited resources of the working memory, when stretched by this load, have fewer resources left to address to guiding attention (Soto et al., 2008). Another significant discovery is that memories involve many areas of the brain rather than just one area. It is the map of connections laid out in encoding that creates memories. A very simple overview may explain that the frontal lobe mediates the control and direction of the memories and includes the prefrontal cortex. This area is also involved in emotional processing (Stuss & Levine, 2002). The amygdala adjusts the strength of conscious memory needed for events influence by emotion, either pleasant (e.g., humorous) or aversive (e.g, fear, anger) (Hamann, Ely, Grafton, & Kilts, 1999). Recent imaging studies suggest that the level of involvement of the amygdala during encoding relates closely to succeeding recall (McGaugh, 2004). Finally, the hippocampus works to put down and retain memories, which are stored in the cortex in the temporal lobe (Carter, 1999). A second realization is that new information being committed to memory is first based on information that is already there. This existing knowledge is called up from long-term memory to aid in the recognition, comprehension, or analysis of new information as a part of problem solving (Leahey & Harris, 2001). The brain is constantly working to "make sense" of new information in relation to what it already

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"knows" (Carter, 1999). It is categorizing information and establishing relational links to other information, or encoding (Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education, 2000; Carter, 1999). Even when information has moved from working to long-term memory, emigrating from the cortex to be stored as neural patterns in the hippocampus, that information will be stored beyond 2-3 years only if replayed, during either dreams or conscious recall (Carter, 1999). In other words, the brain needs to pay attention to information, selecting what will be allowed through the filter that prevents an overwhelming bombardment of input; it needs to elaborate or rehearse this information so as not to lose it due to the limited duration of short-term memory but rather encoded into long-term memory (Leahy & Harris, 2001), and the brain needs to replay or review long- term memories so they will not decay (Carter, 1999; Leahy & Harris, 2001; Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education, 2000). Definition of Humor The investigation of the effect of humor as addressed in this study is actually an analysis of what happens in response to humorous input. Humor is "that which is intended to induce laughter or amusement" (humor, 2000). Therefore, it is not the humor- -which is actually external to the student--that critically impacts learning, but rather the cognitive response elicited by humor. Because of the complexity or because of the elusiveness of the term, there exists a multitude of attempts to define and describe humor. The “humor” used in this study is defined by the “incongruity’ explanation, that an indispensable constituent of humor is

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the contradiction of the recipient’s expectations, causing a pause, a puzzle, and a sudden interest in what is but shouldn’t be (Morreall, 1989). There are three categories of humor theory: 1) relief theory, 2) superiority theory, and 3) incongruity theory. The relief theory contends that humor is a release or reduction of anxiety, and, thus, is physiological. It can also foster group empathy (Rhem, 1998). The superiority theory is psychological, sociological, and evolutionary and depends on domination, often through a “put down” (Rhem, 1998). The incongruity theory is cognitive and demands the capabilities of higher thinking, including imagination (Morreall, 1989) and problem solving (Morreall, 1989; Rhem, 1998). The popular philosophical theory of humor as incongruity can be traced back to Aristotle (Morreall, 1989). The basis for this interpretation is the actual amusement or enjoyment of incongruity. As higher beings, humans show a curiosity for new experiences (Bennett, 1999). These experiences may be familiar, which are easily comprehended and integrated into our mental patterns (Morreall, 1989). The explanation is basic: the familiar is similar to what we already know. The unfamiliar is more difficult. It can be either a novelty, which arrives with no preconception, or an incongruity, which is not what was expected (Morreall, 1989). The reaction can be either negative or positive. A negative response (fear, anger, jealousy, regret, shame) may necessitate changing the answer, e.g., the situation. A positive response (amusement) changes our cognitive status, e.g., the “cognitive itch” (Morreall, 1989, p. 8). Benefits of Humor. The benefits of humor span a diversity of areas. Humor can encourage the cultivation of methods for managing difficulties (Solomon, 1996). Humor can reduce stress (Rhem, 1998), help relieve emotional crises by decreasing anxiety and

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depression (Granick, 1995), and increase self-esteem (Martin, Kuiper, Olinger, & Dance, 1993). Laughter can improve both mental and physical health (Douglas, 1996). In fact, laughter can actually reduce pain: the diaphragm moves, and in doing so massages the right side of the heart, causing the heartbeat rate to escalate and sending endorphins, a natural painkiller, into the blood stream (Cousins, 1979). Impact of Humor on Education. Research has also shown that the use of humor can influence education in many areas. There is a highly positive relationship between successful teaching and the quantity of humor in a classroom (Check, 1997). Correctly used, humor can alleviate the pressure of the student workload and advance beneficial communication between learners and instructors (Combes, 1996). Humor can be used to ease tension, increase focus, and build a positive educational scenario (White, 2001). Humor has been shown to motivate, encourage creativity, and strengthen comprehension (White, 2001). In addition, it improves esteem and empathy for teachers who use humor prudently (Haigh, 1999) and encourages an impression of unity in the instructional group (Rhem, 1998). Cognitive Impact of Humor. Most important to this study, the use of humor also cognitively affects learning. Recent advances in neuroscience have resulted in technology that can track the involvement of the various parts of the brain as humor is confronted, comprehended, and appreciated (Moran, Wig, Adams, Janata, & Kelley, 2004). The more general category of the positive mood, as opposed to the specific focus of humor, has been one area of the focus of research. In their study, Moore and Oaksford’s (2002) results initially support the theory that “heightened emotional states

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enhance the consolidation of long-term memory” (p. 392). There was no significant difference in the short term, but over time and with continued mood elevation, those participants learned faster than those in the neutral group. In attempting to explain mood or emotion and to clarify the relationship of emotion and cognition, neurological study has worked to locate the sites of emotion and memory, hoping for a common locality. Some results are telling. For example, verbal working memory is connected to the activation of the left cerebral hemisphere (Davidson, 1992, 1998; Moore & Oaksford, 2002), and, although emotion is linked to both hemispheres, positive emotion is connected to the left cerebral hemisphere as well (Davidson, 1992, 1998; Moore & Oaksford, 2002). Emotions and memory are tied together even to being processed in the same area of the brain, the limbic system (Klemm, 2004): 1) The hippocampus consolidates memories from new learning; 2) the amygdala is engaged in emotions, and, in fact, is critical in strengthening long-term, emotional memories (Hamann, et. al, 1999); and 3) the hypothalamus is implicated in the expression of emotions (Klemm, 2004). However, the involvement of humor in a learning situation may also result in distraction from the targeted learning material. In a study of the impact of mood states on cognitive processes (Oaksford, Morris, Grainger, & Williams, 1996), the conclusion supports the premise of integrated humor in that either negative or positive moods may exhaust working memory capability because either mood state can shift focus to irrelevant tasks. However, in an examination of seductive detail, Goetz & Sadowski concluded that the major studies they reviewed were unsuccessful in confirming the reality of a seductive detail effect (1995). Inasmuch as irrelevant information may divert a reader’s attention from important information, there is also noteworthy support for the

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inclusion of relevant humorous material. For example, Goetz and Sadowski (1995) cited a successful study that pointed out the reading advantage of text that includes pertinent information presented in an entertaining manner. As well, the idea of seductive detail fits with the premise that people remember that which is actually humorous (Collins, 1997; Thompson, 2000; Schmidt, 2002). When not threatening distraction, humor can improve cognitive performance. For this conundrum to be understood, humor needs to be further understood. First, attention is attracted to the incongruity, which may be as simple as the appearance of something silly or funny in an otherwise serious study or as complicated as a riddle or joke to be solved. Then the humor itself involves detection and appreciation, i.e., reward or pleasure. The detection involves the resolving of the incongruity between the punch line and what is expected. “The posterior temporal and inferior frontal regions engaged during humor detection have previously been implicated in language tasks that encourage retrieval and appraisal of relevant semantic knowledge” (Moran et al, 2004, p. 1058). Wonder transpires when an incident is incongruent with anticipation set up by earlier experience. Then coherence must be restored in order for the individual to “get the joke” (Morreall, 1989, p. 1058). Humor also necessitates bringing up information already in memory in order to comprehend the new information. In other words, there is a telling resemblance between getting a joke and solving a problem (Derks, Gillikin, Bartolome- Rull, & Bogart, 1997). The most straightforward description of humor explains it as a three-step procedure: “cognitive arousal, problem solving, and resolution” (White, 2001, p. 27; see also Suls, 1972). The cognitive process of “getting a joke” replicates the problem solving progression. When the incongruity of a joke is identified, the problem is

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identified. The resolution of the problem compares to the resolution of the joke, i.e., “getting the joke” (Berk, 2001). From the coincidence of the congruity and its solution arises the meaning and thus the amusement. Insights from Neurological and Cognitive Research on Humor and Learning: The Case for Integrated Humor In order for learning material to be better remembered, it must be presented in such a way to take advantage of the aspects of memory revealed by neurological and cognitive research. The points made include gaining attention (Soto et al, 2008), “encoding,” or tying new information to what is already known (Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education, 2000; Carter, 1999), and elaborating on new information in order to maintain it in long-term memory (Leahy & Harris, 2001). The effective use of humor can help memory retention and recall by addressing some of these very points. The surprise of the incongruity of a joke attains attention (Berk, 2001). The working out of that incongruity, which approximates solving a problem, engages the brain (Berk, 2001). Evidence also shows that because of how memories are processed, within the same system as emotions, those tied to emotion may be retained longer (Moore & Oaksford, 2002; Hamann, et. al, 1999). What this all leads to, since the connection is made from emotions to what is to be remembered (Ziv, 1988), the humor should not be merely adjacent to the targeted material, nor just related to the material; it needs to actually be made a part of it, integrated into it. Purpose of the Study The purpose of this study is to specifically investigate the impact of humor, carefully integrated with targeted learning material, on adult learning. The theoretical

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foundation for this effort included analysis of recent investigations in the cognitive science and neurological fields and a review of research on the use of humor in instruction. This inquiry provided the direction and rationale for the treatment in this project, which concentrates on the cognitive process of memory by presenting the targeted content as humorous material carefully designed to augment learning. Research Question. Since the goal of learning is to retain improved knowledge over time, learning should incorporate both improved knowledge and improved retention. The specific question addressed in this study asks: Can the inclusion of humor integrated with learning material improve the memory retention and recall of that material better than information presented with either non- related humor or without humor as revealed when results of delayed assessments are compared with results of immediate assessments?

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CHAPTER II INTEGRATING HUMOR INTO LEARNING MATERIAL

In order to benefit from the work of those empirical studies having already addressed the impact of humor on memory, this study reviewed research in this area, limiting the review to adult learning and focusing on the issue of the affect of humor on the improvement of learning, rather than motivation, interpersonal skills, creativity, or student-teacher relationships. From nearly a hundred reviews considered, only a few have been referenced. Review of Empirical Studies

To provide the study with a sound theoretical foundation, a review of existing research was carried out. There was no consensus that the existence of humor in the presentation of new material is beneficial to learning. A closer look at the studies, however, revealed a diversity of approaches and an assortment of methodologies that could account for the lack of consistent results and provide guidance for inclusion of humor in the actual instruction. In order to maintain a replicable focus on adult education, the review was limited to those studies involving humor and learning in an adult environment and in an empirical study. Lessons Learned from Studies of Humor and Learning Showing Significant Results. The studies with statistical evidence supporting the beneficial impact of humor included a diverse group of approaches and methodologies. In addition to providing support to the premise in the more obvious sense of positive results, the differentiation in approach or methodology also provided input for the inclusion of humor.

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One obvious characteristic of several studies with statistical evidence that humor enhances the retention of learned material was the point of the research. While several of the studies did test memory of humor, there was no other learning material other than the humor itself. Therefore, while the studies showed that the memory for humor is notable, the tie between the use of humor and new targeted information was not addressed. These studies simply illustrated that people remember what is humorous, in itself an important concept. For example, Collins’ (1997) research was one of the most straightforward presentations. The purpose of the study was to determine if the participants, students in an introductory collegiate psychology class, would remember humorous sentences better than non-humorous sentences. In a simple exercise, the participants were given humorous and non-humorous sentences to read within a five- to seven-minute time limit after which they were to complete a distracting task, completing eight computational math problems in three minutes. Following this task, they were tested on how many of the sentences they remembered by completing the sentences after the first few words were provided as clues. The results showed that students remembered significantly more humorous than non-humorous sentences. This was an uncomplicated experiment testing the ability to better remember humorous material than non-humorous material. There was no other information or designated learning material. Thompson (2000) tested the impact of humor on memory and meta-memory through the use of cartoons and captions. The memory assessment involved recall, cued recall, and recognition. The meta-memory assessment centered on feeling of knowing (FOK) and judgment of learning (JOL). Both of these were tested in a delayed context. Participants consisted of 24 students in a university psychology course who viewed

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single-panel cartoons with either humorous or non-humorous captions. They were tested immediately and then again after a delay of two weeks. In both the immediate and delayed recall tests, the humorous items were remembered significantly better than the non-humorous. The results showed that delay negatively impacted recall and humor improved recall. In Thompson’s (2000) study, the recall results were used in conjunction with the research that addressed the impact of humor on FOK and JOL. The telling aspect for this research is that the cartoons themselves were the only information presented rather than any other targeted learning material; what was humorous was remembered. A third study, by Schmidt (2002) added support to the same conclusion, that humorously presented information is better remembered. Schmidt conducted two experiments. In both experiments, Schmidt’s (2002) participants were undergraduate psychology students. In the first experiment, the students were shown slides that were humorous, “weird,” or non-humorous, after which they were to rate the slides as to familiarity, humor, bizarreness, and comprehensibility. The participants were told that the trial dealt with the connection between humor and mathematics, and the slides themselves presented arithmetic tasks. At the end of the presentation, the students were requested to perform calculations for five minutes and then were given ten minutes to take a memory test, which consisted of describing each cartoon picture recalling every caption. The students remembered the humorous cartoons best. In Schmidt’s second experiment, the purpose differed in that the role of the list structure in producing humor and the examination of the effect of incongruity on memory was investigated. In this experiment, only two types of cartoons were used. The

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combinations were 1) a set with humorous and non-humorous cartoons, 2) a set with humorous and weird cartoons, and 3) a set with weird and non-humorous cartoons. Each participant viewed only two types of cartoons. The procedure was the same as in the first experiment except that students had only to rate the cartoons rather than classify them according to type. In this second experiment as well, the humorous cartoons were remembered best. However, Schmidt also noted that although the cartoon humor resulted in improved recall of the substance of the cartoon, it did not improve the recall of the detailed wording of the caption of the cartoon. A study by Kaplan and Pascoe (1977), although conducted some years earlier than the studies just reviewed, makes a couple of important points about tying insertions of humor to questions included in assessments and that the greater impact of humor may be in the longer-term retention. Kaplan and Pascoe studied humor’s influence on the retention of lecture material. Over 500 university psychology students watched videotapes of a lecture about Freudian personality theory. In some versions of the lecture humor was directly related to the concepts, whereas in others humor was unrelated to the concepts, and in still other versions there was no humor. One assessment of comprehension and retention was conducted immediately after the lecture, and another was repeated six weeks later. The results revealed a slight benefit to the related humor on the first test. However, the largest impact was to the related humor on the second, or delayed, assessment. Notably, information not tied to humor was also tested, so the research also demonstrated that only those test questions tied to concepts related to humor insertions showed a significant improvement.

Full document contains 92 pages
Abstract: The present study tested the hypothesis that humor directly integrated with targeted material positively impacts memory retention and recall. The rationale underlying the hypothesis is based on findings of neurological studies and behavioral research on humor. Participants were 56 students in three online Freshman English classes at a local community college. Building on the information learned from previous empirical research and incorporating evidence revealed by neurological inquiries, this project provided each class of students with one of three different versions of declarative grammar material presented as an interactive pronoun instruction module: without humor, with non-integrated humor, or with integrated humor. Assessments included a pre-test to determine prior knowledge. Following review of the module, the recall of students' memory of the targeted material was tested through an objective exam. After a longer period of time (five weeks), which included using the newly learned material in writing assignments unrelated to the study, students were tested again to evaluate their longer-term retention. The analysis of the scores was a two-way 2X3 analysis of variance (ANOVA). A significant difference in improvement of memory with a 95% confidence level was shown for participants in the Integrated Humor condition as compared to those in either the No Humor or the Non-Integrated Humor conditions in both the Immediate Post-Test (0.00, 0.02) and the Delayed Post-Test (0.00, 0.00). Although the sample was small, the results support the hypothesis that humor integrated with learning material can beneficially impact memory and recall.