Why are Office Hours Important?

Two students talking to professor

The Importance of Office Hours


How many of us actually go to office hours? Are they even necessary? How amazing does it feel when an instructor knows your name?

In my earlier years at UBC I rarely went to office hours, but more recently learned how helpful they are. I believe that going to office hours often have a considerable benefit. It is a fantastic way to review material and have an intellectual conversation with your professor. Showing up to office hours can help students in so many ways:

Gain a deeper understanding of concepts: Often times students find it embarrassing to ask questions in front of an entire hall filled with students, especially when it is about a concept the entire class seems to be comfortable with. This is when you must go to office hours and clear out all possible doubts you might have regarding those topics. For example, I take a lot of economics courses and at time have gone to office hours to gain clarity on concepts related to statistics. These concepts were very basic but, it was essential to clarify my doubts before the course got more advanced.

One-on-one: This allows the professor to provide their undivided attention to your concerns and this can make it very easy to grasp concepts you found to be challenging. The professor can change their explanation process and adjust their pace to match your learning capabilities, which can be very effective.

DROP HINTS!: Professors do not always wish to see us suffer! During midterms and finals, professors can’t help but drop a few hints of what material might or might not be covered on the exams. Students can therefore allocate their precious time to cover the most important material. In my third year, I was enrolled in an Economics course where our final was cumulative. This was one of the heaviest economics courses I have ever taken at UBC. Stressed about all the material covered on the final, I ended up going to office hours. The professor told us exactly what chapters he is going to focus on and also gave us examples of the type of questions that will be on the exam. Often times, around exams, office hours become “group” office hours and this is where your classmates might ask some wonderful questions about topics you were iffy about. This is a good time to get those doubts cleared!

Benefit to professors: Some of us might only think about how office hours assist students in their learning but office hours can be extremely beneficial for the professors too. After interviewing my Economics professor, Jamie Mccasland, who teaches Economic Development at the Vancouver School of Economics, I was able to gain more insight on the value of office hours from an instructors’ standpoint and they are presented below.

Know what the students are understanding and what they are not: When professors get asked the same question over and over again, it is easy for them to notice that these concepts were not conveyed effectively. Therefore, they can choose to revisit these topics and explain them in a much more understandable manner. Jamie expressed that on many occasions, questions asked by students can make her think about problems from different angles and this is what she loves about her profession. It excites her when students are able to come up with their own explanations and theories for events happening around the world.

To conclude, everyone must give office hours a shot. Meeting your professors on a weekly basis can be a great source of gaining knowledge which goes beyond the walls of the classroom.

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