The teacher is available during scheduled student support hours.

Your office hours are more important than you think! According to a review conducted by Cuseo, “…research indicates that faculty-student contact outside the classroom is empirically associated with multiple, positive outcomes, such as: (1) retention/persistence to graduation (2) academic achievement/performance (3) critical thinking (4) personal and intellectual development (5) educational aspirations (6) satisfaction with faculty (7) college satisfaction (8) perceptions of college quality.” Bowen (2012) noted that student-faculty interaction outside the classroom also increases the sense of belonging, critical to student retention.

Tips for Effective Office Hours

Carr (2019) had several suggestions for making your office hours count. First, schedule them when your students are likely to need you rather than at times that are easiest for you. Students can’t benefit from interaction with you if you’ve scheduled your hours at inconvenient times. Virtual hours (utilizing Webex or Blackboard Collaborate) can offer additional convenience, and be a big help to students who are off campus. Carr surveyed students using a free online scheduler to determine how their course schedules compared with her own obligations and put office hours where they helped most. To further increase the likelihood that students will visit, gamify or incentivize student visits, require at least one visit, or make an office visit part of an assignment. Getting to know students as people and reaching out to individuals will really help “open the door.” 

At the same time, protect your sanity! Determine what parts of the week belong to you and do your best to protect your own time; no one expects you to be available 24/7. Be clear about when you are and aren’t available and when students can expect to hear back from you. 

You might also consider using your syllabus to explain the purpose of office hours and offer suggestions to students about how best to use them. Last, consider rebranding! Rename your office hours, “student hours” “learning hours,” or “connection hours,” and don’t be surprised when you get more visitors!

Part-Time Faculty

You are generally expected to keep one office hour per week per course section. Check with your department chair to be sure of the rules in your department! 

Full-Time Faculty

The YSU OEA Agreement (2020-2023) states the following responsibilities: Faculty members teaching solely on campus shall maintain a minimum of five (5) on- campus office hours weekly and two (2) additional hours for student appointments only during each term (3 hours for summer term) at times convenient to both the faculty member and to their students. Office hours shall be distributed over a minimum of three (3) days each week (two days each week for summer term) unless alternative arrangements have been made subject to the approval of the Department Chair. During these times, a faculty member shall be available to meet with students in connection with courses and academic advisement. Office hours missed due to emergencies or unavoidable University obligations shall not be subject to the student grievance process.  

For online course(s) the faculty member shall establish office hours for consultation with students at a distance utilizing available communication tools including email, chat, computer conferencing, or other technologies. Such online office hours shall count toward the seven (7) required office hours. The physical location of these online office hours is at the discretion of the faculty member. These online office hours may fall beyond the standard institutional business operations of the university; however, the students must be informed of online office hours in the syllabus. For each online course, the faculty member must conduct at least one (1) office hour online per week. If the faculty member is teaching all online courses, all seven (7) hours will be scheduled online across at least 3 calendar days per week, and no on-campus office hours shall be required. For off-campus courses, faculty may establish off-site office hours for consultation with students. Such off-site hours shall count toward the seven (7) required office hours. Faculty members teaching distance-education course(s) shall post a statement regarding the methods and procedures to be utilized for office hours. Faculty members teaching distance education course(s) shall respond to student communications that occur outside of the scheduled office hours within two (2) business days of the receipt of the student communication.