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Viewing Office Hours as a Resource

Office hours might be one of the most underutilized resources for both students and instructors.  In this document, we offer a few tips that could enhance the experience.

When considering the best time to set for office hours, it is better to think about what works best for both you and the student.  An approach is:

  • Ask students what times would be good for them and schedule accordingly
  • Create several optional times to give choice
  • Choose times that will work for non-residential students or students who might work.

Other locations where you could meet with students include:

  • The library
  • Campus coffee shop
  • Student Union
  • Meet virtually via Zoom or through a discussion board

Share liberally you want office hours to be about. For example, you might ask students to:

  • Prepare their questions before they meet you.
  • Bring their assignment with them to explain their process and difficulty.
  • Submit their questions or problems ahead of time so you can provide supplemental materials.
  • Share with students what can be discussed during office hours (assistance, personal issues, undergraduate research opportunities, internships, graduate school, related topics not covered in class, etc).

For students to fully understand the impact of attending office hours, it is useful to present when we are having office hours, where they will be, and why we offer them periodically in the semester and in various contexts. To do this, you may:

  • Include this information in the syllabus.
  • Make regular announcements during class (especially prior to the next office hour session).
  • Direct students to office hours when they ask particularly specific questions or those unrelated to most students’ experiences or needs.

 Download our handout on “Preparing Students For Office Hours” for additional tips.