Laugh and Learn: Mixed methods and Interdisciplinarity in

Laugh and Learn: Mixed methods
and Interdisciplinarity in
Educational Humor Studies
Mary Yakimowski and Manuela Wagner,
University of Connecticut
AAAL 2013
S “’I have experienced it again and again: just one single bright
and general laugh-and the whole hour was under a friendly star.
Such a laugh runs like a rippling brook, like a fragrant wind or
forest breeze through the soul. Cheerfulness is indeed not
learning, but it is a disposition to learn. Brightness,
furthermore, is the sister of confidence. To the child the teacher
still seems-I do not wish to use the worst word 'enemy'--only
too often a sort of oppressor, one who drives, a gloomy
admonisher, in short, a sort of tormentor. A feeling of tension
and of antagonism is more frequent than the nature of the
individuals should demand. But he who laughs with us, with
him we drink out of one cup. When the master laughs, then
even the most timid and most reserved scholar says to himself:
'He is a man', and receives the gifts of the teacher no longer as
dubious ones that carry nothing but anxiety and trouble in their
wake. School is certainly not a vaudeville and comedy-stage, but
it is a vineyard which needs abundant sunshine and which will
produce sour fruit for lack of it.” (Krause,1917, p.236)
S “Laughing Matters: Humor in the Language Classroom”
(Medgyes, 2002)
S “If they’re Laughing, They Just Mght be Listening: Ideas
for Using Humor Effectively in the Classroom – Even if
You’re Not Funny Youself ” (Lundberg and Miller Thurston,
S “To be sure, we cannot turn the irregular verbs directly into
a regular pleasure, but we can do indefinitely much to make
their treatment pleasurable. In this, humor is undoubtedly
one of the most powerful and ready aids.” (Krause, 1917, p.
Complexity of humor studies
S “After the painful planning of my master’s studies on humor
in education I was so disappointed that I did not find a
direct link between the use of humor and student learning
that I changed my topic for my dissertation to something
more doable.”
What role(s) does humor play in
the language classroom?
What are the (perceived) benefits of using/introducing humor
in the language classroom?” (e.g., Davies, 2003; Ketabi &
Shahla, 2009; Ziyaeemehr, Kumar & Faiz, 2011; Pomerantz &
Bell, 2011; Golchi & Jamali, 2001; Aboudan, 2009)
What are the (perceived) risks of using/introducing humor in
the language classroom? (Ziyaeemehr, Kumar & Faiz, 2011)
How much humor do teachers and students use in different
settings in language education? (Downs, Javidi & Nusbaum,
1988; Neuliep, 1991; Aziz, Abdullah, & Annalamai, 2011;
Wagner & Urios-Aparis, 2008)
What role(s) does humor play in
the language classroom?
What types of humor do teachers and students use in different
settings in language education?” (Wagner & Urios-Aparisi,
2007, 2008; Aziz, Abdullah & Annalamai, 2011)
Does humor facilitate (language) learning? If so, what kinds of
humor (can) lead to increased student learning and in what
setting(s)? (Aziz, Abdullah & Annalamai, 2011)
Does the use of humor create a more relaxed classroom
atmosphere and reduce student anxiety with a second
language?” (Aziz, Abdullah & Annalamai, 2011; Wagner,
Yakimowski & Urios-Aparisi, 2012).
S Is humor a content area in the language classroom? What
should students learn?
S Does humor uptake and/or the ability to produce humor in
the target language facilitate our students’ interactions in the
target culture? Should they learn how to understand
humor? Should they learn how to produce humor in
interactions with native speakers?
S How is humor related to the various cultural backgrounds in
the classroom as well as in the target cultures? What is the
connection between humor and intercultural competence?
S Is there Interlanguage Humor just as there is Interlanguage
Pragmatics? Is there a developmental model for the types of
humor that should be introduced to language learners at
different levels and at different ages? How does study
abroad contribute to a student’s development of humor
comprehension and production?
Qualitative Design
Figure 1. The iterative qualitative research process to inquiry. (Crabtree & Miller, 1992)
Quantitative Design
Comparing Quantitative and
Qualitative Research Design
Qual. Vs. Quant. Ct’d
Qual. Vs. Quant. Ct’d
The Gold Standard
Embracing the
complexity of the field
to include
Gold Standard
Some challenges
S 1) Embracing the complexity of the field 
interdisciplinary collaboration
S 2) Interdisciplinary collaboration can lead to PTR issues 
S 3)Designing mixed method studies requires knowledge of
and familiarity with both paradigms and also experience
with mixed methods  interdisciplinary collaboration
S 4) Adding another paradigm involves collecting more data
and/or conducting more analyses 
“The goal of TalkBank is to foster fundamental research in the
study of human and animal communication. It will construct
sample databases within each of the subfields studying
communication. It will use these databases to advance the
development of standards and tools for creating, sharing,
searching, and commenting upon primary materials via
networked computers.” (1)
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