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If you find your office overflowing with students or your time dominated by teaching responsibilities, Catherine Sims Kuiper wrote a great blog, Managing Office Hours, focused on setting boundaries, creating structure, and knowing your limits. But what if, like me, you are just struggling to get students to come? 

Here are some things to try:

Tell students what office hours are — not just when they are. Talk about what you hope to get from it, what they can hope to get from it, and why you have chosen to set aside this time specifically for them. 

Pick a convenient time and location. Poll your students to determine the best time for office hours. If your office is on the far side of campus, schedule office hours in the library or the student center (this has the added bonus of being less formal, too). 

Require a visit during the first few weeks. Get students through the door by assigning a small grade (or extra credit) for visiting your office hours. Make it a low-pressure, short conversation about their background, major, interests, etc. Be sure to share about yourself, too! If you make a personal connection first, you will seem more approachable about course content in the future. (Another bonus: getting to know your students makes it easier to learn their names.) 

Designate some “topical” office hours. If you know that students are struggling with a particular section or idea, dedicate an office hour specifically for that topic. For example, in my calculus class, I could title this Thursday’s office hours as “What ARE series, anyway?” This title is not intimidating, suggests that we will likely talk about the theory of convergent infinite series, and does not require the student to come with specific questions.

Remind students often. Continue to let them know that you are available and looking forward to meeting with them. 

Most importantly, be yourself and be welcoming! 

If you have other ideas for getting students to come to office hours, please comment below! I am always looking for more ways to reach students and encourage dialogue.


Additional Resources:

  1. Office Hours: 6 Realities
  2. Why Students Don’t Attend Office Hours



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