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Advising is a Joke How the Theory and Philosophy of Humor can Influence Advising Practices John Strickland Advisor, Exploratory Florida State University

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Page 1: Advising is a Joke - NACADAapps.nacada.ksu.edu/conferences/ProposalsPHP/uploads/...• Funny stories • Humorous comments (Banas, Dunbar, Rodriguez & Liu, 2011) Examples of Inappropriate

Advising is a Joke

How the Theory and Philosophy of

Humor can Influence Advising Practices

John Strickland

Advisor, Exploratory

Florida State University

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Why?

• Academic Advisor – 3 years experience

• Stand-up Comedian –8 years experience

“11 years of advising/comedy experience”

--Math

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What is Humor?

a) a normal functioning bodily semifluid or fluid (such as the blood or lymph)

b) physiology : a secretion (such as a hormone) that is an excitant of activity

a) that quality which appeals to a sense of the ludicrous or absurdly incongruous : a funny or amusing quality.

b) the mental faculty of discovering, expressing, or appreciating the ludicrous or absurdly incongruous : the ability to be funny or to be amused by things that are funny

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The Functions of Humor

Positive

• Coping w/ Stress

• Group Cohesion

• Social Influence

What else?

Negative

• Derision

• Social Isolation

What else?

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Theories of Humor

• Incongruity

Theory“The most common kind

of joke is that in which

we expect one thing and

another is said.”

• Relief Theory“Buildup of tension is

inherent to all humorous

scenarios and the

perception of humor is

directly related to the

release of that tension.”

• Superiority

Theory“Laughter expresses

feelings of superiority

over other people or over

a former state of

ourselves.”

“Nothing produces laughter more than a surprising

disproportion between that which one expects and that which

one sees.” – Blaise Pascal

(Friend, 2002)

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Benign Violation Theory

• Humor occurs when

something seems

wrong, unsettling or

threatening, but

simultaneously seems

okay, acceptable, or

safe.

(McGraw & Warner, 2014)

Benign ViolationFunny

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Benign Violation in Action

• Why did the sloth fall out of the tree?– It died.

• Benign Factors– Falling out of a tree

• Happens more often than sloths like to admit

– Death• Affects 100% of sloths

• Violating Factors– The sloth dies.

• Other options?– Slipping

– Falling Asleep

(McGraw & Warner, 2014)

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Anatomy of a Joke

• Every good joke has a:

– Set-up

– Punchline

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Can Anything Be Funny?

• Yes?

• No?

• Depends

– Setting

– Delivery

– Target

– Timing

– Preferences

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Is Everything Funny?

• No.

• Why?

– Setting

– Delivery

– Target

– Timing

– Preferences

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A good rule of thumb…

• Making the student laugh is never the priority

• Use humor intentionally

• “Humor isn’t the car you drive to get somewhere. It’s more of a blinker... Or the aux cable to make the ride easier.”– (Strickland, 2019)

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Deep Dive into Academic Research

ACADEMIC RESEARCH

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Humor in Educational Settings

Why do instructors (teachers,

advisors, guidance counselors,

etc.) use humor in an

educational setting?

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Benefits of Humor in Instructional

Settings• Effective use of humor

often results in:– Comfort w/ instructor

– Mitigation of student anxiety

– Increased participation

• Ineffective use of humor often results in:– Anxious and uncomfortable

learning environment

– Lower evaluations of instructors

– Increased student distraction

– Less enjoyment*

(Banas, Dunbar, Rodriguez & Liu, 2011)

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Instruction Humor Processing Theory

• Appropriate forms of instructional humor are positively associated with student learning

• Humor attempts are labeled “highly appropriate” when they relate closely to the course content

• Students must be able to recognize the incongruity in the instructor’s message in order to perceive humor

• Once recognized, the incongruity must be resolved– Resolved = Positive affect

– Unresolved = Negative affect

(Wanzer, Frymier & Irwin, 2010)

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(Wanzer, Frymier & Irwin, 2010)

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Considerations of IHPT

• Relevance

– Humor attempts are most successful when relevantly

connected to course content

– May increase motivation and ability to process messages

– Doesn’t distract from instructional message and makes

information more memorable

• Appropriateness

– Influences affective response to instructional material

• Appropriate = Positive

• Inappropriate = Negative

(Wanzer, Frymier & Irwin, 2010)

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Examples of Appropriate Humor

• Affiliative/Solidarity-based

• Psychological needs/Self-enhancing

• Power-based humor

• Humor related to class materials

• Funny stories

• Humorous comments

(Banas, Dunbar, Rodriguez & Liu, 2011)

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Examples of Inappropriate Humor

• Aggressive/denigrating others

– Manipulating or denigrating others, ridicule, mocking

• Offensive humor

– Humor based on race, ethnicity, sex, political affiliation, sexual orientation of self or another

(Banas, Dunbar, Rodriguez & Liu, 2011)

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Examples of Context-Dependent

Humor• Unrelated humor

• Self-disparaging humor

• Unplanned humor

• Jokes/Riddles

• Low humor

• Nonverbal humor

• Puns

• Prop-based humor

• Visual Illustrations

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Humor in Advisor/Advisee

Relationships• The use of humor in interpersonal

communication between advisor and advisee can impact:– Nonverbal immediacy

– Mentoring

– Social support

– Relationship satisfaction

(Wrench and Punyanunt-Carter, 2008)

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Strickland’s Framework of Humor in

Advising

Successful humor in advising will meet the

following qualifications:

ppropriate

ontent-Relevantelpfulncouragingrapped Up (Resolved)

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Methods of Using Humor

Appropriately in Advising Practice

• Method 1 – Online Communication (e-

mail, social media)

• Method 2 – Humoring Your Office Space

• Method 3 – Face-to-face, personal

conversation

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Method 1 – Online Communication“E-Mails? Huh… more like MEME-mails!”

• Humor can be added in the online environment with:– Jokes

– Cartoons

– Memes• Many meme generators

available online

• Research meme content on www.knowyourmeme.com

– Riddles

– Quotes

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Method 2 – Humoring Your Advising

Space• Decorate your space to

present a warm,

welcoming environment

• Remember, humor can

help create:

– Comfort w/ advisor

– Mitigate student anxiety

– Increase participation

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Method 3 – In-Person Communication

• Every advising session starts off like a

joke

– “A guy walks into a bar…”

– “A lady walks into her doctor’s office…”

– “A student walks into an advisor’s office…”

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An student walks into their advisor’s

office…The student is worried about what career possibilities are out there for them post-graduation.

The advisor asks the student what they’ve been up to recently that got them worrying about their career options.

The student, an English major, recently watched a documentary on HuluNetflixPrime about web design/technology and was really fascinated with how it all worked.

What’s the punchline?

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References

Banas, J.A., Dunbar, N., Rodriguez, D., & Liu, S. (2011). A review of humor in educational settings: four decades of research. Communication Education, 60(1), 115-144.

Friend, T. (2002, November). What’s so funny? The New Yorker. P. 78.

McGraw, P., & Warner, J. (2014). The humor code: A global search for what makes things funny. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Wanzer, M.B., Frymier, A.B., & Irwin, J. (2010). An explanation of the relationship between instructor humor and student learning: instructional humor processing theory. Communication Education. 59(1), 1-18.

Wrench, J.S., & Punyanunt-Carter, N.M. (2008). The influence of graduate advisor use of interpersonal humor on graduate students. NACADA Journal, 28(1), 54-72.

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Any Questions?

John Strickland

Academic Advisor, Exploratory Students

Florida State University – Advising First

850-644-4011

[email protected]