The Office Hour

I had my office hour yesterday, and I got a lot of work done. Oh yeah, I also had a student stop by to ask questions.

I used to have a lot of office hours, but then I also used to have a lot of students coming to ask questions. Gradually, however, the flow of students became a trickle, and I started to cut back on my office hours. So why the change?

The answer is probably the Internet. Email is one factor. I've put my email address on the syllabus for every course I've ever taught, going back to 1994. Every year since then I've gotten more and more emails (I got a grand total of 1 in '94--now it's more like 1 an hour). It's easier to fire off a message whenever you want, than to arrange to meet with an instructor at a mutually convenient time. I teach a lot of classes, and it can be tough to find time to meet with a student outside of my regular office hours. Sometimes I do, and then the student doesn't show up. Hey, at least call and leave a message so I can do something more productive with my time than catching up on I Can Has Cheezburger?.

Another factor is the web. Used to be, if you wanted to know how you did on a midterm (or even to get your final grade), you had to actually go to the department and look up your mark on a sheet of paper posted to a bulletin board. Since you had to walk all the way there in the first place, maybe you'd also stop by your instructor's office and talk to them. But if you can look up everything online, why bother traipsing all the way to the Biological Sciences Building? Some people don't even know where the Department of Psychology is!

Anyway, if you actually make the extra effort to come and see an instructor in person, that's probably going to stand out in their memory. And that, usually, is a good thing.

Why aren't you studying?


Anonymous said...

i think its because students started realizing that once you venture into biosci, you never come out! :S

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