By Brad Bell
It may be a very good idea to use a number of examples in teaching. Providing examples of concepts may help students learn and understand concepts. In Balch’s study (2005), all the students received a booklet with definitions of psychology terms. Students either received repeated definitions of the terms, or an elaboration. There were three types of elaboration. (1) One of the types of elaboration involved a specific example. The students took a multiple-choice test with both definition and example questions. Balch found that students who received examples of the psychology terms performed better on both types of questions than students who received only the repeated definitions. Using examples in teaching may be one of the effective teaching strategies for improving comprehension.
1. There were three elaboration conditions in this study (paraphrase, example, and mnemonic). See Balch (2005) for more information about these conditions and other findings.
Balch, W. R. (2005). Elaborations of Introductory Psychology Terms: Effects on Test Performance and Subjective Ratings. Teaching of Psychology, 32, 29-34.
By Brad Bell
Some lectures may be hard to pay attention to. Some subjects such
as research methods and statistics may seem very dry. What can the instructor do to make these topics more interesting? One possibility is to use humorous examples in the lectures.
In Garner’s (2006) experiment, all the participants viewed three
video-recorded lectures on statistics and research methods. Each
participant was randomly assigned to one of two conditions. In one
condition (humor condition), the participant viewed lectures with
humor segments (e.g., with humorous examples). In the other condition, the participants viewed the lectures without the humor
segment (control condition). Garner found that the participants in the humor condition recalled more information on the average than
participants in the control condition. (1) Humor may increase recall because it is distinctive, vivid, or it attracts attention. Greater attention may lead to deeper processing of the concepts.
This finding has important practical implications. Examples are
routinely used to make concepts clearer and more memorable. It
may be beneficial for instructors to use humorous examples.
There may be some limitations of education humor and the use of
humor in the classroom. Offensive or unrelated humor may not be
beneficial. It is important for instructors to use appropriate humor
that is directly related to the concepts in the course.
See Garner’s article for other research findings.
Garner, R. L. (2006). Humor in pedagogy: How ha-ha can lead
to aha! College Teaching, 54, 177-180.