We know that students benefit from visiting office hours, but there are often barriers that keep that connection from happening. Here are a few ideas to encourage students to use office hours and to help you make the most of your time together.
Make the Invitation
Many students might not know the purpose of office hours, how they can access these hours, or what to do to prepare or once they're in the office. Instructor expectations may differ around office hours as well. You can help students by inviting them to office hours verbally (in the classroom) and in writing (in the syllabus or on Canvas), and in providing answers to a few prompts:
What are Office Hours?
- Explain what you use office hours for.
- Why is this time set aside separate from class time?
Where are office hours?
- Explain the location, especially if it's tricky to find
- Provide a map to your office
- Take a picture of your office door to show location
- Consider occasionally hosting office hours in a different location like a coffee shop or student lounge
When are office hours?
- What day/times are available?
- What should students do if the day and time does not work for their schedule?
Why should students visit office hours?
- What do you see as the major benefits of the time you have with students?
- What is unique to this context that will show the value added of meeting in person?
How can students prepare for office hours?
- What should they bring with them? Questions? Sample problems?
- What can they do in advance to make the most of the time meeting with you?
Encourage Use of Office Hours
Beyond inviting students to office hours, you can encourage them to make use of the hours in specific ways.
- Give each hour a name and purpose. For example, a student might feel comfortable going to "Chapter 3 Review Problems" knowing they can expect a review of Chapter 3, even if they aren't comfortable articulating their own questions
- Suggest that students visit office hours together. While some topics are personal and require individual meetings, many topics are ones students benefit from conversation around. Inviting people to come in pairs or small groups creates the expectation of collaboration and conversation and minimizes any stress associated with visiting alone.
- Offer online office hours. Setting aside an alternate time when students can meet via a program like Webex can give students a chance to connect remotely. This can be particularly helpful for distance, working, and commuting students.
Share the ASC's Infographic on Office Hours
You can educate students about office hours in general by posting the ASC's Office Hours infographic to Canvas or on the overhead prior to class: