Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Making Office Hours Required for Students: The Best Bad Idea You've Ever Heard

It is well known that students who build working relationships with their professors are
more successful both in college and after graduation. One of the best ways to cultivate that relationship is the simple step of coming to a professor's office hours.

Despite the fact that office hours are theoretically beneficial for students, very few students seem to take advantage of this valuable opportunity. Office hours should be the time students are receiving much-needed mentoring that can lead to increased student engagement, leading to better performance in the course and ultimately to higher graduation rates.

Should faculty then make office hours mandatory for students? The logic behind this move is simple. Much is lost in the translation of course material and knowledge from the professor to the student during the lecture because it lacks personal and motivational factors that are typical in more personal conversations. This effect is compounded when grades and feedback are given only through writing, whether digital or analog. Making a personal connection has always been, and is still, extremely helpful to the learning process. Although practical ways to implement required office hours depend tremendously on course size, the idea that students benefit from engaging with their professors on an individual level about course topics is wholly unsurprising and is worth pursuing.

Let us know your feedback. Do you require office visits for your students? What would be some advantages or disadvantages?

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