Using Humor to Engage Students

No matter how passionate a student is about their field of study, odds are there’s at least one element of the program that doesn’t quite grab their attention. Maybe it’s a dry-yet-crucial concept or a course that focuses on the more administrative aspects of an otherwise thrilling career. If it’s important, there must be a strategy for grabbing students' attention and sparking their interest.



For the Special Education Master’s program at George Mason, that not-so-exciting aspect of the program tends to be research. When you’re eager to improve your skills in working with students with exceptional learning needs, having to spend time alone in the stacks at the local library can feel like a bit of a detour. To get more students interested in the research side of things, we decided to take a big creative swing with a series of high-concept videos that humorously framed an ongoing extra credit research assignment as a “secret mission.”


A good combination of professional acting, bold production choices, and humor can help improve a student’s overall experience in ways both tangible and intangible.

“People are very nervous about this course,” says Dr. Anya Evmenova, the faculty developer for the course. “Just the word ‘research’ makes people kind of anxious. These videos help people relax a bit.”


Overall, 72% of students agreed that the videos added value, while 77% agreed that they were enjoyable. Respondents described them as “entertaining” and “very well put together,” and one said they enjoyed watching the videos even though they didn’t have time to do the actual extra credit assignments.


A good combination of professional acting, bold production choices, and humor can help improve a student’s overall experience in ways both tangible and intangible. And while it can really come in handy when you’re struggling to get students excited about something, it can also work for the most popular course in the program. Either way, our media team will work closely with your program’s stakeholders to find the right balance between creative, entertaining, useful, and on-brand.