Paul L. Caron

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Laughter, Learning And Well-Being In The Law School Classroom

Diana Simon (Arizona), Laughing Your Way to Academic Success: Can Laughter Impact Learning and Well-Being in the Law School Classroom and are there Cross-Cultural Differences?:

Unfortunately, the truth is that law students are unhappy and can suffer from anxiety and depression at unusually high rates. Is there anything we, as professors, can do to help with that? While what transpires in the classroom is only a small piece of the puzzle that forms a student’s psychological well-being, the answer is we can do our part in the classroom to not only relieve student anxiety but improve learning in the process.

After briefly examining the findings about the mental health of law students, this article reviews: (1) research on whether humor in the classroom can improve learning; (2) research on whether humor in the classroom can decrease student anxiety; (3) research on whether there are gender differences associated with the use of humor; and (4) research on whether there are cross-cultural differences in the perception and effectiveness of humor with a special focus on China. ...

In conclusion, given that law students do suffer from depression and anxiety at higher levels than their peers who are not in law school, the research seems to suggest that use of humor---the right kind in the right dosage—can help alleviate that anxiety and, in the process, promote learning. Instructors should be mindful, however, when a classroom consists of students who come from different cultures, who may have different perceptions of humor. In these situations, the understanding of the students will depend upon those students’ exposure to Western culture and the exact type of humor used in the classroom

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