Title

The Relationship Between Sense of Humor and Self-Efficacy: An Exploration of the Beliefs of Art Teachers

Date of Degree

12-2009

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Program

Education

Advisor

Dorothy Ettling

Advisor

David Campos

Advisor

Lisa K. Lockhart

Advisor

Paul F. Messina

Abstract

This quantitative study is an exploration of sense of humor as it relates to self-efficacy and was sparked by a keen interest in teachers who practice humor in challenging school environments. Art teachers completed two auto-report scales measuring their beliefs about humor and self-efficacy. Items on the humor scale presented four dimensions: humor creation, social humor, humor used to cope, and humor attitudes. Self-efficacy items were anchored to three dimensions of classroom performance: instructional strategies, student engagement, and classroom management. Correlation and multiple regression analyses revealed a positive relationship between sense of humor and teacher self-efficacy. Positive correlations were found to exist between overall humor and efficacy in instructional strategies, and overall humor and efficacy in student engagement. The strongest relationship was observed between social humor and efficacy in instructional strategies. When social humor, humor creation, and humor used to cope were high, instructional strategy efficacy was also high. A weak relationship was found between social humor and classroom management. Perceived stress was collected on a demographic survey and high levels of stress contributed to a decline in instructional strategy efficacy. Overall, the findings supported a moderate relationship between high humor perceptions and effective instruction, as long as teachers were not experiencing escalated stress. The findings point to five emergent themes that intersect the constructs of humor and self-efficacy. The findings suggest that humor joined with instructional strategies may assist in raising teacher self-efficacy. Humor in education is a relevant topic for discussion in light of the tenor of schools where high-stakes test scores are paramount to performance. Stressors present in these schools can cause teachers to lose heart in such a way that their ability to perform is compromised. To teach effectively, teachers must maintain resilience to cope with stress. A sense of humor has been shown to serve teachers socially, emotionally, and cognitively in classroom practices. This study proposes that instructional use of humor be considered a prime topic for professional development and teacher training programs.

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