Date of Completion


Document Type

Open Access Capstone

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Delores B. Gallo

Second Advisor

Patricia S. Davidson

Third Advisor

Nina Greenwald


Schools need to be more creative in helping students devise adaptive methods so as the ability to analyze, compare/contrast, and evaluate, and creative thinking behaviors, such as fluency, flexibility, and originality, are needed to solve the complex problems which students face in today's world. This thesis suggests the idea that humor, particularly humor resulting from the recognition and resolution of incongruity, found in jokes, puns, metaphors and visual representations, is related to and can facilitate the basic processes of critical and creative thinking, and hence facilitate complex problem solving. This thesis examines the importance of finding ways to initiate humor into the educational experience by incorporating humor into the classroom and by incorporating it into critical and creative thinking activities. Humor is intrinsically enjoyable, facilitates retention, aides in coping with frustration and stress and is a mechanism for cultivating adaptive methods. The teacher who uses humor makes learning more interesting and enjoyable and promotes a student's intellectual, social and emotional development. In order to teach for critical and creative thinking, instruction using and including the development of humor should be considered as both an appropriate goal and a motivating pedagogical strategy. This thesis also suggests the relationship between humor and critical and creative thinking. Summarized are the three historical explanations of the origins of humor: superiority theory, relief theory and incongruity theory. Current research in critical and creative thinking as well as problem solving is explored. The psychological and sociological theories together with the functions of humor in relation to critical and creative thinking and problem solving are examined and elaborated upon. Presented in this thesis are the results of a student survey which focused on the impact that humor had on classroom environment, on student attitude toward the teacher, and on student learning and memory. The results support the positive impact of humor on student learning. In conclusion, I describe the ways in which I used humor in my classroom to create a positive climate, to present and deal with management problems, and to facilitate learning curricula.