Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

Linking the Classroom to the Living Room: Learning through Laughter with the Office

Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

Linking the Classroom to the Living Room: Learning through Laughter with the Office

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

Business class should be fun, right? Documented humor success stories have been found in law (Binder, 2010), english literature and composition (Maddox, 2011), social work (Morgan and Hughes, 2006), as well as organizational behavior (Dent, 2001) classes. The use of humor in the classroom tout openness and respect (Kher, Molstad and Donahue, 1999), lower levels of stress, improved learning speed (Gorham and Christophel, 1990), increased student attention and decreased anxiety (Torok, McMorris and Lin, 2004). What better way to illustrate central business concepts than through comedic sitcoms? And what could be more comedic than the sitcom The Office? A matrix is provided linking both management and marketing topics to specific episodes of The Office. In addition, a sample of episodes and potential student assignments for each are discussed to highlight their respective pedagogical relevance. Both open-ended and empirical student feedback is provided from an upper-division marketing class. Results suggest that students prefer television sitcoms like The Office to other classroom supplements such as newspapers and magazines to increase their awareness of business concepts. Implications of the use of the sitcom for business pedagogy are offered.

INTRODUCTION

The use of comedy in the classroom has received moderate attention in pedagogical research. Genevieve (2010) discusses classroom personality and specifically applauds professors who are authentic, passionate and fun. Related works suggest using an "improv mindset" in the classroom introduce the importance of student/professor improvisational exercises as a means to overcome difficulties from reluctant students (Aylesworth, 2008). Emily Oldak, author of Comedy for Real Life suggests fun exercises to help students relax before exams and increase their retention of information (Bafile, 2003).

This paper addresses the use of the sitcom The Office as an example of how to link business concepts to a student-relatable format, all while having a good time. Examples of Office episodes are presented with a brief discussion of their relevance to specific business topics. Sample class exercises and pedagogical implications of the use of humor in the classroom are provided, along with a discussion on the positive outcomes of having a more relaxed, comedie classroom atmosphere.

More traditional business classroom supplements include PowerPoint slide presentations, newspaper articles (e.g., Wall Street Journal), as well as news magazines (e.g., Business Week, Newsweek). Moch (2002) discusses the benefits of these traditional teaching aids: increased connectivity between class topics and current events, as well as the ability to monitor business situations in real-time as opposed to a case method which can lack timeliness.

COMEDY IN HIGHER EDUCATION

Higher education seems to be acknowledging comedy in several ways. For example, Ohio University embraced comedy via curriculum change and created a History of Jewish Humor class (Tanny, 2009). The course professor integrates Jewish humor history with in-class interactive exercises including joke-telling, watching and discussing TV episodes that include Jewish actors and entertainers (2009). Documented humor success stories have also been found in law (Binder, 2010), english literature and composition (Maddox, 201 1), social work (Morgan and Hughes, 2006), as well as organizational behavior (Dent, 2001) classes.

Humor in the classroom loosely refers to comedie instructional interaction with students through the use of jokes, storytelling, situations and the like (Bryant, Comisky and Zillmann, 1979). The effectiveness of classroom humor seems congruent with that of humor in advertising, whose effectiveness varies with audience, situation and type of humor used (Weinberger and Gulas, 1992). Humor's positive effects on the classroom include openness and respect (Kher, Molstad and Donahue, 1999), lower levels of stress, improved learning speed (Gorham and Christophel, 1990), increased student attention and decreased anxiety (Torok, McMorris and Lin, 2004). …

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