Office Hours Are Not Obsolete: Fostering Learning Through One-on-One Student Meetings
30 Pages Posted: 6 Dec 2019
Date Written: August 18, 2018
Office hours, whether it is the traditional notion of an office hour whereby the professor has designated times for students to visit, office hours by appointment, or an open-door policy, are a great learning opportunity for students. In the law school context, the American Bar Association (ABA) requires full-time faculty members to “[be] available for student consultation about those classes” they teach. In addition to office hours, students meet one-on-one with faculty in a variety of ways: mentoring, advocacy coaching, answering substantive questions, legal writing conferences, law review note advising, career/academic support counseling, and for so many other purposes. Indeed, law students reported on the Law School Survey of Student Engagement (LSSSE), that most students have worked with faculty on activities other than coursework.
In evaluating the literature on teaching and learning, a great deal is written about the classroom, but what about the teaching and learning that can, and does, occur during office hours? Given the many instances during which students and faculty interact on a one-on-one basis, the limited literature on office hours in law school should be expanded to ensure we create the best learning from these instances. This article expands the research by discussing the impediments to students’ use of office hours and how to overcome them, discussing the office setting and how to make sure an office setting communicates to students a welcoming environment, exploring how to effectively navigate through an office hour by using the latest research on the office hour, and exploring how to create an environment that is best for learning.
Keywords: office hours, legal education, pedagogy, higher education, student success, one-on-one meetings, faculty-student relationships, adult learning, teaching and learning, counseling, advising
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