An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of the Barriers to the Use of Humour in the Teaching of Childhood Studies

Revised version - original published 10 May 2017, Vol 5, No 3


  • Edward John Noon Sheffield Hallam University



Humour, Pedagogy, Higher Education, Childhood Studies, Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA)


This is a revised article

First published: Noon, J. E. (2017). An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of the Barriers to the Use of Humour in the Teaching of Childhood Studies, Journal of Perspectives in Applied Academic Practice, 5(3), pp. 45-52.


The above article was first published online on May 10, 2017. The methodology section has been corrected to accurately reflect the sampling technique employed in this study. The revised version is published in this issue.

In the original publication, it was noted that the sample was determined by certain criteria, including gender, years of teaching experience, and previous professional career.  However, having reflected back on the process, this was not the case. Whilst it was ensured that participants had at least six years of teaching experience in higher education, the fact that the sample was dominated by female academics from a wide range of backgrounds was inevitable given the ‘make-up’ of the population under investigation, and was not something that was specifically planned for.


Whilst pedagogical humour is a common teaching strategy employed by educators across compulsory education systems, a review of the extant literature expounds that it is a tool largely neglected by instructors throughout higher education. As such, this study sought to discern the perspectives of educators concerning the barriers to the use of humour in the teaching of Childhood Studies. Semi-structured interviews were carried out with five educators on the BA (Hons) Childhood Studies programme at a Yorkshire-based post-1992 university. Verbatim transcripts of the interviews were analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA).

Respondents believed that an academic’s personality held a significant bearing upon their pedagogy, and therefore their use of classroom jocularity. Educators claimed that whilst pedagogical humour did have its benefits, it was also capable of causing offence, distracting from course content, and making students feel uncomfortable. Consequently, educators generated situated understandings of when and where they were permitted to employ pedagogical humour, and what form said humour should take; they were cautious not to overuse humour, and were also less likely to draw upon it when teaching emotive or distressing content, and when teaching groups of students they were less familiar with. Educators also noted that they were less likely to draw upon pedagogical humour in the lecture theatre, despite university-wide pressure for instructors to produce more interactive lectures.


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Revised Article – Original Research