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Humour essential to critical thinking and creativity

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Using humour as a learning method promotes critical thinking and creativity within students, reveals new research by Vienna University of Economics and Business (WU).

The study, conducted by associate professor André Martinuzzi, investigated using humour as a method of experiential learning, and the impact this has.

The researchers found that humour promotes critical thinking and creativity, makes it easier for students to deal with emotionally difficult issues, improves communication skills, and helps them become agents of change.

Humour can be applied as a learning method in a broad diversity of disciplines, such as management, socio-economics and sustainable development. It strengthens trust and the connection between teachers and students, creates a positive learning atmosphere, reduces stress, and lets teachers come across as more competent and credible.

As part of the study, the researchers asked students to create comedy scripts on a wide variety of topics, and created a toolbox for use in management education — to date, more than 500 students have worked with this method.

The toolbox provides students with an understanding of the basics of humour, empowers them with practices to develop their own humorous texts, and guides them towards high-quality punch-lines, comedy scripts or tiktok videos. It can be used in single lessons or be the basis of whole courses.

“We consider there to be a high potential for using humour as a learning method, especially when skills, group dynamics, creativity, and emotions are key aspects of a course or program. It would also be particularly suitable for topics with a high degree of complexity and ambiguity that require innovative and creative approaches,” says Professor Martinuzzi.

The study focusses on humour as a learning technique in environmental education, as it helps students become ‘agents of change’. In recent research Martinuzzi and his team explore the effects of humour in management education.

The study was published in the journal Environmental Education Research.

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