This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

The Effects of Professor Humor on College Students’ Attention and Retention




Mantooth, James

Type of Degree



Education Foundation, Leadership, and Technology


The purpose of this present study was to investigate the effect of instructor humor on college students’ levels of engagement and retention of material. A convenience sample of junior- and senior-level students enrolled in four separate courses within the College of Education were exposed to two different lectures – one humorous, one non-humorous. The lectures covered material that was already imbedded within the course curriculum, and occurred at points in the semester where this material would have occurred without this study. Data was gathered using interest surveys, domain knowledge tests, and post-lecture feedback surveys. There was a one-week time span that occurred between the pretests and posttests. Results from paired t-tests indicated that the participants (1) did actually perceive the presenter as humorous during the humorous presentations, (2) were more engaged in the humorous presentations than the non-humorous ones, and that the specific topic did not play a statistically significant role in the results. Results from within-subjects ANOVA indicated that the humorous lectures did not have a statistically significant effect on the posttest domain knowledge test scores. The rate of gain from pretest to posttest scores was almost identical for the humorous and non-humorous presentations.