on June 14 2022 at 6:27 p.m.
Hello and welcome! Derek and I look forward to lively dialog. To kick things off, tell us about your experiences with virtual office hours. What technologies did you use during the pandemic? Are you still offering virtual office hours or using other technologies to connect with your students? Do you feel that the use of digital technologies has been well received by your students? Why or why not?
And, of course, let us know any questions or comments you may have.
Hi Derek and Kris -- thank you for this work on this topic. I have a couple of questions about your work:
1 - How were office hours framed within your courses? For example, at the beginning of the course, were office hours understood as existing as 'extra' help? Or were they framed as being tutorial-based, and by that I mean, as a space to further discuss the week's readings? Also, are office hours offered individually or do students show up for a group discussion?
2 - You outlined quite succinctly reasons as to why some students do not seek support via office hours, but could you speak a little bit to the characteristics of those students who DO seek support? Have you found a common trait among the students who are consistently showing up to office hours?
Thanks for the questions! At least in my teaching practice what I do in response to your questions is:
I hope that helps - and I'd be happy to continue the conversation if you'd like!
in reply to Rhonda Sears Chung
Many thanks for your reply, Derek.
I'm reflecting on my undergrad days now, and remembered that one prof made it mandatory for students attend a minimum of 2 or 3 office hours. At the time, I have to admit that I thought it was a total drag; however, in reading your response that those who seek instructional support are already highly acclimated to the university atmosphere, what do you think about mandatory attendance?
I'm really curious as to how to equalize the playing field, particularly since the students who most likely need the help might be avoiding it because they fear looking incompetent or are not socialized to do so as first gen undergrads.
in reply to Derek Schwartz
Thanks for the follow up questions!
You make an interesting point about mandatory attendance. I can see some definite benefits to forcing the issue in terms of getting students to engage with me. In my own practice, I've done midterm checkups with individual students during class time with some success.
That said, at least with my students, mandatory meetings would probably require very flexible scheduling on my part, as a great deal of my students (even traditional undergrads) have work, sports, service and other commitments outside of typical full time courseloads. So, if I were to implement mandatory office hours, I'd probably set up a Doodle poll (or similar) with dates and times available over a two-week period, and have students sign up for what works best for them. If they didn't sign up, I'd then schedule them for a time. I'd also include the mandatory office hours as a graded "assignment" that has points associated with it.
Great questions! Derek provided clear details on the how he (and we) define office hours. I will shed some light on my experiences regarding office hours. As we are in the early stages of our research, these will be anecdotal, but provide more background on the impetus for our work.
Like Derek, the students who typically show up to my office hours voluntarily, without much prodding and personal invites, are the rockstars. They are the students who are already doing well in the course. My speculation is that these students understand that getting help is part of the learning process. They may have parents who have attended college and can share their experiences and encourage them to seek help. They may have already built a history of help-seeking in high school.
Thank you both for your detailed replies--it's got me thinking about how I can make office hours more accessible to students who might be shying away from using them.
Looking forward to reading more about the next phases of your research.
in reply to Kris Isaacson
Hi, Derek and Kris, Thanks for a great presentation! I appreciate your discussion questions. I used weekly online office hours through Teams this past semester and found that most of my students didn't attend. I then had students sign up for one-on-one 15 minute sessions with me and that worked but was very time consuming. You touched on setting boundaries and I'd really like to know more about the types of boundaries that you think you can set around office hours that both encourage attendance but also keep instructor's time within reason. Thanks, Janet
Thanks for the questions! In my own teaching practice, this last semester proved difficult to engage students in general. That said, my approach has been to frame office hours as a time for support (academic or otherwise) and I've been open to informal Q&A via email and text for a long time. My own boundaries that I set include telling students it might be a day for an email response (although I usually respond in less than an hour) and to not text after 10:00PM. For online office hours, I've found that polling my students about which date/time might work for them (among a pre-set range of dates/times) is a good engagement technique - and I always let them know I'm available ad hoc when they need some help.
in reply to Janet Zydney
Boundaries became a critical issue for me during the pandemic when everything I was doing was online. UW-Stout uses Teams which I have installed on my phone. This means in addition to the email I already get on my phone, I also get text chat messages, and sometimes calls from students at any time of day or night. That being said, the majority are respectful of traditional working ours.
Time boundaries and expectations regarding responses are important. I inform my students they can send me messages at any time of day or night, but if it's in the evening or on the weekend, don't expect an immediate response. I need my personal time, too. I try really hard not to respond evenings or weekends as I think it sets a bad precedent.
When I had assignments due on Sundays at 11:59 pm (I've since altered this for most of my classes), my phone would start alerting and pinging me around 9:00 pm on Sundays. My significant other used to joke with me, "Students who have procrastinated and have questions?" This is indeed what the alerts were. While in some cases I was available and could respond, I did not. Instructors should not be at the beck and call of their students any time, all the time. Instead, I would wait until Monday, inform them that their work was late, and recommend that they start earlier next time so they could get their questions answered prior to the due date and time.
Thanks. Very helpful. I have been trying to be flexible with my students this past year, but perhaps too flexible, and I have found that while many were respectful, some students really took advantage of this and I became drained by the end of the semester. Being flexible but maintaining boundaries is so key.
in reply to Kris Isaacson
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