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We investigated the effects of humor on vocabulary instruction in a study with 84 seventh grade students from an ethnically mixed, middle-class, Northeastern, suburban school district. The experimental group received a series of lessons for vocabulary words for which we provided humorous contexts. The control group received a series of vocabulary lessons for the same words in typical, non-humorous contexts, based on guidelines from a standard reading textbook. Following each lesson, we administered identical assessment tests to each group. An examination of pre- and post-test scores revealed that students in the experimental group significantly outperformed their control group counterparts on tests for which we provided humorous vocabulary lessons. The study is examined in light of engagement theory within a motivational theoretical perspective.

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