Date of Award

Fall 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Tim J. Newby

Committee Chair

Tim J. Newby

Committee Member 1

Jennifer C. Richardson

Committee Member 2

Aman Yadav

Committee Member 3

Cheryl Oestreicher


This study examines the effects of humor within an instructional video on student learning and motivation. Humor in education has been shown to improve students' perception of the instructor and learning environment, with mixed results on gains in actual learning. Humor has been suggested as a strategy to gain and maintain attention, improving motivation to learn. With the dramatic increase of online multimedia instruction, research on the use of humor on multimedia instructional materials can help us determine if it can be used to improve learning and motivation.

In a pretest-posttest controlled design, students viewed a short multimedia instructional video. In the control group, students viewed a non-humorous video explaining three ways to cite sources in a research paper. In the experimental group, students viewed the same video with four humorous additions unrelated to instructional content. After watching the video, students in both groups took a learning and motivational assessment. Learning was assessed with questions related to recall and application. Motivation was measured using the Instructional Materials Motivation Survey (IMMS).

Results on learning assessments found that overall there was no significant difference between the pretest and posttest between the control and experimental groups, nor was there a significant difference between the control and experimental groups on the motivation assessment.

However, gender was added as a factor of comparison, results showed that males scored higher on knowledge items on the pretest / posttest gain and were more influenced by humor than females on comprehension and the overall gain scores. In motivation, males perceived the humorous video as more satisfying and were more influenced by the humor than females in perception of confidence in the instruction. Significant correlations were found between perception of humor, learning gains between the pretest and posttest, and perception of motivation overall and in each gender.

Previous research on instructional humor has found gender to be an important factor in the perception of instructional humor. Because the designer and producer of the instructional video was male, it may be that males who enjoyed the humor were more motivated by, and learned more from, the humorous instructional video. Care should be taken in using humor in instruction to ensure the type of humor is received well by students of either gender in the course.