Making the Most of Office Hours
Student-faculty interaction is important both in and out of the classroom. Students who take advantage of office hours reap many benefits beyond improved grades. Caring conversations with faculty helps students persist through difficulties and feel more personally involved in the scholarly conversation and practice of your field.
Despite this, many students do not take advantage of office hours. A recent study looking at undergraduate student perception of office hours suggests there are some things faculty can do to better encourage students to consider stopping in (Smith et al. 2017).
Many students have the perception that office hours are for academic (or personal) emergencies only. A last resort or plea for mercy when it is already probably too late. One way to counter this is to give students more specific reasons to come : informal conversations about the field, career advice, letters of recommendation, research opportunities, and more. Create a scavenger hunt, part of which requires a visit to office hours.

Put these conversation prompts right on the syllabus and mention it at least every few weeks throughout the course. Another potential barrier is professor (un-) approachability. It can be intimating to walk down a strange hallway to spark up a conversation with a busy expert. Many students feel they must bring a pressing problem or profound question. Set them at ease by continually creating a welcoming environment in and out of class. Engage in a little small talk, offer coffee or tea. Let them know office hours are times you specifically set aside for them.

Be mobile and flexible. Always include "and by appointment" to your set hours on the syllabus and D2L. Consider setting up mobile office hours in the library or a coffee shop. Explore the various online options for video or chat to find what works best for you and your students.

What works for you? Let us know !

Wednesday February 20, 1-2:30PM, 433 Sherrod Library

Thursday February 28, 2-3:30PM, 433 Sherrod Library

Last Friday of Every Month at Noon
433 Sherrod Library

Smith, M., Chen, Y., Berndtson, R., Burson, K.M., & Griffin, W. (2017). "Office Hours Are Kind of Weird": Reclaiming a Resource to Foster Student-Faculty Interaction. InSight: A Journal of Scholarly Teaching, 12, 14-29. Sherrod Library.