Office hours

I just received an email from a student asking me to “look over [his/her] final again” because [he/she] did not get a passing grade in the course. This was not the first time [he/she] had taken the course and the student said that “I struggle every time” in the course.

If it were me, and I were re-taking a course, I would assume that a good amount of struggle was going to be inevitable, and then budgeted my time and resources accordingly to make room for the struggling. But this student, and so many others in the same predicament, made no detectable effort to get help, especially from the most valuable free resource they have at their disposal: the professor’s office hours. In fact, I can count the number of distinct students that came to office hours this past semester on one hand.

The lack of office hours activity around here (and it’s not just here) has been baffling to me and my colleagues. We set up about 6-8 hours a week of open drop-in time for students to get help, and we’re all very flexible and open to appointments at other times. We actually like office hours because of the one-on-one contact. And yet, students generally don’t use them; there’s a much higher frequency of students paying $10-$15 per hour for a tutor before they will come get help from more knowledgeable teachers for free.

Can somebody explain that? Is it a cultural thing (part of the social taboo against looking smart)? Or what?



Filed under Education, Higher ed, Student culture, Teaching

3 responses to “Office hours

  1. I’ve had the same experience and wondered the same thing. Way back when I was a starving grad student, I tutored for the math department and none of the students who paid me (usually to get them to pass calculus) had been to office hours. Go figure.

  2. I beg, I plead, and I even have provided incentives, but still, my office hours have been the loneliest times of my week.

  3. Pingback: Casting Out Nines»Blog Archive » Breaking news: Office hours being used!