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Student Office Hours
Inclusive Office Hours
Another way to get to communicate with students is through office hours. For many students, visiting their instructors’ office can be intimidating; many don’t know why they should come to office hours, or what is an appropriate use of office hours.
Tips to Make Office (Student) Hours More Welcoming
In an online learning environment, where faculty and students can’t speak in person, virtual office hours are a great way for teachers to stay connected with students and get to know them, as well as help them succeed. Following are a few suggestions:
- You might also refer to your office hours as “student hours,” since some students have the misconception that “office hours” is the time instructors set aside to work in their offices and should not be disturbed. By referring to the time as “student hours,” you send a clear message that this time is for them.
- If you encourage students to come to mandatory, group, or online office hours, they are more likely to use them over the course of the semester and will feel more comfortable asking for the help they need to succeed. This strategy can help you get to know your students, but it also allows them to get to know you, which can help you build meaningful relationships with them.
- Remove barriers to students meeting with you by offering a variety of times (time of day and length of meeting), formats (e.g., video conference, phone call, text message, email), and structures (e.g., one-on-one and in small groups). Promote your office hours in a way that is engaging and encouraging.
- Continually invite students to your office hours throughout the semester.
Try Different Formats
Office, or student, hours can be more inclusive by adding structure and being intentional with your design. Show on this page an example of office hours that accounts for different formats at different times of the semester as well as different locations. All these help to remove some of the barriers to participation and hopefully, broaden engagement with students. A sample graphic showing office hours for Dr. Vigi Sathy, co-author of Inclusive teaching: Strategies for promoting equity in the college classroom, is pictured on the right. The photo is taken from her website.
Video Best Practice (1:55 minutes)
Don't let your "students suffer in silence." Open the door (virtually as well as in-person) to encourage students to meet with you.