Make Office Hours More Productive with Small Groups

Research Evidence

Office hours can be a tricky thing. Faculty make time for students—who may then not come. Some students might be intimidated by the setting—or by revealing just how much they don't know.

You can make this time productive for you and your students by retrofitting some office hours for small group interactions. Students in smaller groups get your attention without the intimidation factor; they also get to interact in an informal venue and discover peer questions. Meeting informally with you is a very powerful and motivational way to keep students engaged and learning in class.

What To Do And Why It Works

Restructure some office hours for scheduled meetings with small groups of students:

  •     Rotate through already-assigned groups, perhaps from small group class work.  
  •     Consider scheduling group meetings in a public venue like the campus cafeteria, student union, or coffee shop.

Students may be more comfortable and your approachability increases.  

The small group meeting strategy uses time effectively, increases your availability to more students, and engages reticent students outside of class. Meeting in a public location increases your visibility and "user friendliness" factor when it comes to evaluations. And, boosting the effectiveness of your office hours is a win for all!