College Students - Are You Maximizing Your Instruction by Visiting Office Hours

There are many reasons students don't want to ask questions in class, though it is the most helpful tool they possess to maximize the use of their brains and teachers.

It isn't just fearing ridicule from peers. Which is very common in younger grades. But why would a college or grad student fear asking questions?

One college graduate student visited her professor after a lecture. She wanted to know if she interpreted his lecture accurately. She was trained to ask, "This is what I think you meant today, am I correct in my thinking?"

It was clear to him that she did not understand the principles he was trying to convey. He returned to class the next session and shared, "A brave student came to my office hours and it was obvious to me I was not clear to her. I am wondering, "How many of you were also confused?" 

He was dismayed to discover 75% of the class was confused by his lecture. He wondered what they did to clear up this confusion. Some received peer tutoring, while others paid big money to be tutored by a graduate student. 

He proceeded to present the material in the way that made sense to the student who visited his office. He said he could see the light bulbs go on by the facial expression of his students. Those who received tutoring received incorrect information and were now clear. 

He asked the class, "Why didn't you come to me. I am free tutoring. You need to get the instruction from teacher who will be grading you. It's risky getting tutored by someone who might put their own gist on the concept."

He shared that one young man stated his reason for not using office hours, "I had to be in the top 1% of my undergrad classes to get into the program. I thought if I came to you for support you wouldn't think I was qualified to stay."

Just yesterday in my conferences with my students and their parents, an eight year old shared that he didn't want to use our office hours because he thought that would mean he would be dropped to the lower math class. Helping young students see the value in developing relationships with their teachers and using office hours, will help them be the young lady who visited this professor's class. 

He had not been aware that his instruction was not clear until it was brought to his awareness. He thanks this young lady for making him a better teacher. 

If parents encourage their children to talk to their teachers at a young age, they will be the ones visiting office hours and saving time and money. Once a student visits office hours, the teachers tend to teach to that student. This creates more of a 1 to1 ratio in lectures that usually have a hundred or more students.  

Next blog will address helping students overcome their fear of asking questions.

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