University/College Professors

Office Hours

Author Post
Emily Faulconer Emily Faulconer 5755 Points

What ideas do you have to get students to come to office hours? (Online office hours ideas would be greatly appreciated since my office hours are all virtual, but synchronous. I am otherwise available asynchronously and generally maintain a response time of

Jeff Goldfinger Jeff Goldfinger 165 Points

Hi Emily,

Unfortunately, you're competing with the noise of the marketplace - e.g., social media, streaming TV, gaming, etc. It's sad but true that getting their attention requires a level of uncommon seduction. For example, have a weekly theme for office hours:

* Week 1: 'Lineup' - sign up for office hours and if you can identify me in a lineup (from my kindergarten class photo) you'll get an extra point on the next test.

* Week 2: 'Whew' - at this week's office hours, you'll learn about the best excuse I ever gave to get out of a speeding ticket.

* Week 3: 'Never Again' - ... worst date I ever had.

* Week 4: 'Mmmmm' - ... best meal | restaurant | pizza | [whatever]

You get the idea. These work online or in person.

Make is kitchy. Make it unusual. Make it personal. Make it something they don't want to miss out on. They'll let their guard down and be more willing to engage with you.

Good luck and have some fun with it,



Alex Holden Alex Holden 620 Points

Hi Emily,

As a current college student, I would like to assure you that if students are not coming during your office hours, it's likely nothing you are doing wrong! I would say that it's great that you're offering different methods of having office hours, often I have found that the asynchronous method has been really useful. I would say that if there's a student that you need to see during your office hours, reach out to them and remind them of when you're available. However, students have a LOT on their plate so don't be surprised if you don't see them face-to-face if you offer the asynchronous form of communication, it's just more convenient for everyone. 

Carmen Vanderhoof Carmen Vanderhoof 1190 Points

I notice you didn't get a reply. What did you end up setting up? I'm going to schedule 15min mini conferences with each of my students as a way to check in with them since we're in a hybrid mode. If they need longer than that, then we'd set up a follow up appointment. 

Emily Faulconer Emily Faulconer 5755 Points

I tried inviting students individually to come to office hours to discuss assessments (with the carrot of earning partial credit on missed questions if they leave the session demonstrating appropriate mastery). Very few have taken me up on it. I think they prefer the slower, less personal routes of communication through email or posting in the 'Online Office' discussion forum. I myself am averse to being on video so I admit that I understand if that is why they're not coming! 

Carmen Vanderhoof Carmen Vanderhoof 1190 Points

That makes sense. I like the idea of the 'Online Office' discussion forum. I wonder how else we can make connections with students in ways that are more approachable than Zoom. In Spring semester when I supervised a small group of student-teachers I prefered phone calls and texts rather than Zoom. But with whole classes, I'd rather not give up my cell number unless necessary. What about setting up a conference with multiple students at a time if they're working in teams for a project? It may seem less intimidating. I also like the idea of offering bonus points or earning partial credit back. We'll come up with something!

Rebecca Montgomery Rebecca Montgomery 600 Points

Hello Carmen, 

As a college student, I can say from my own experience that it seems like many students are more inclined to ask questions in a smaller setting. I have had professors create virtual conferences with each student so they have the time to review assignments and ask specific questions they may not want to ask during the regular class zoom. I also appreciated the flexibility professors have shown this semester by offering constructive feedback and the ability to revise work since we are not able to get as much in person instruction; I think students would really enjoy the idea of earning back partial credit if they meet with you individually. This semester has been really difficult on the mental and emotional health of both students and faculty, but I can assure you that reaching out to students for more personal meetings is worth the effort. I hope you're semester is going well and this can be of some help moving forward. 

-Becca Montgomery, preservice teacher, Wartburg College

Robyn Soronow Robyn Soronow 13905 Points

Hi Emily. I am a college student. If you want students to come to office hours, you can offer something that will help students in the course. For example, if you have an major assignment, tell students you will answer any questions they have about it in your office hours. Then, more students will be motivated to come. I would also recommend having a 'meet and greet' session at the beginning of the semester, so students can meet you. 

Angelo Vargas Angelo 10 Points

We had several teachers who said an ultimatum 'I only communicate with you at this and this time' At other times - please do not disturb me.
And the students were really much more disciplined than with other teachers.

Mitra Surik Mitra Surik 430 Points

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