What are office hours?
Faculty members, instructors and teaching assistants schedule time outside of class designated for meeting with students (i.e. office hours). These hours are usually announced on the first day of class and can be found in the course syllabus. Although you don’t need to take appointment for visiting a member of academic staff during their office hours, it may be wise to send them an email to inform them you will come.
What Office Hours are not?
Office hours are not a place where the professor, instructor or teaching assistant will do a homework for you or will cover again the material taught in class. Students are expected to come to office hours prepared with specific questions/problems.
Why make use of office hours?
Office hours provide an excellent opportunity for students to meet with their professors and teaching assistants one-on-one and discuss the material being taught at class, ask questions about course content or want to get feedback on a paper or exam. During office hours students are also encouraged to ask their professors other related questions or indulge in discussion about other interests they may have. While there are specific units and advisors to help you with your choice of program(s) of study, graduation requirements, master or PhD programs, internship or career opportunities, it may also be beneficial for you to discuss these questions with your professors during their office hours.
- Ask questions about course content – If you areseeking clarification of material presented in class, ask your professor/instructor/teaching assistant to explain it in another way or provide more examples.
- Work through practice problems– If you are struggling solving the practice problems given by your professor/instructor/teaching assistant, you can visit them during office hours and ask them to go step by step through practice problems with you and show you where you are making mistakes.
- Ask questions about upcoming assignments – If you have attentively examined your assignment details, but you are still confused how to tackle the assignment, discuss your suggestion for approach/methodology/hypothesis with your professor and ask for feedback and guidance.
- Review your own exam or paper – It is always a winning strategy to review your exam or paper and ask for specific feedback what you did wrong, what you did right and how you can further improve your next assignment.
- Discuss your grade – If you believe your grade should be different, share your concerns with your professor. Make sure you are well familiar with the grading policies outlined in the course syllabi beforehand.
- Ask for help if you are struggling with the course or repeating the course – In case you have a weak background in the subject and you are struggling with the course content or have failed the course previously, don’t hesitate to discuss your situation with your professor and ask for help. Your professor will refer you to units such as Academic Support Program where you can get academic support for some freshman courses or the member of academic staff may provide you with additional materials, resources, etc. or arrange a teaching assistant to work with you.
- Inform about any special circumstances you may have and/or request accommodation for a disability – If you have any physical or learning disabilities (dyslexia, dyscalculia, etc.), you should register with the Student with Special Needs Support Unit at the beginning of the academic year. Faculty members will provide reasonable accommodation after consultation with this unit.
To make the very most of your time with your instructor during office hours, be aware of what is expected of you before, during and after office hours and follow these tips:
Before the appointment:
- Plan to visit your professor early in the semester, don’t wait until last minute before midterm/final exams.
- Be clear what is the purpose of your visit – be ready to explain what is your request/issue in a clear and meaningful way.
- Check your syllabus and SuCourse to learn where and when the office hours are held. It is best to send an email to confirm the professor’s availability.
- Make a list of your questions beforehand.
- Bring all you will need (your course notebook, your notes, laptop, etc.)
During the appointment:
- Arrive on time.
- Start the conversation by introducing yourself and stating the question/situation/topic clearly and concisely and/or make your request respectfully.
- Always be polite.
- Clarify what you expect from the professor to do – to answer your question, to clarify the assignment, to provide you with feedback, etc.
- At the end of the meeting, quickly prepare and share your action plan with the member of staff
- Thank them and end the conversation respectfully.
After the appointment:
- Follow the action plan you made
- Follow the tips/suggestions you received
Take another appointment or visit your professor during office hours again if needed.