“Frequent student-faculty contact in and out of classes is the most important factor in student motivation and involvement.” This is first of Seven Principles of Good Practice in Undergraduate Education at Chico State. One relatively untapped resource to increase student involvement outside of class is office hours.
In a low-stakes office meeting with you, students can learn about resources they need and ask questions in a safe environment without their peers present. Investing time with students can actually be a long-term time-saver if you can address problems before they get worse or help with initial drafts of papers before they’re submitted. So, why are office hours seldom utilized by students? Maybe they’re nervous. Maybe they don’t feel their reason for visiting is worth your time. Maybe they don’t want to appear to need extra help. Whatever the reason, helping students access your office hours is a great way to boost student engagement. Here are a few ways to help students access this valuable resource.
- Prop your door open during scheduled office hours and warmly greet them. Display your Safe Zone Ally placard on your door if you earned one from the Office of Diversity & Inclusion. If students apologize for bothering you, remind them that office hours are devoted to them and you’re glad they stopped by.
- Stagger office hour days and times to enable students with varied schedules to access you.
- Post office hours on your syllabus, on Blackboard, on your office door, and remind students about the benefits of office hours at key points in the course when you know students will need them most.
- Consider making an office hour visit an assignment with points attached to it. If necessary, you can give students a specific purpose for visiting (e.g. bring your most recent assignment and the single biggest question you have about the topics covered so far).
- Consider occasionally holding office hours off-campus at a coffee shop, the library, or a park as long as the location is accessible to all your students. If you regularly hold some of your office hours outdoors, you could have a “walking meeting” which might be less intimidating to some students.
- Offer some office hours online. Zoom is a great platform for this and you have a free account through Chico State. Contact TLP if you need assistance.
- Consider offering some group office hours to be held in an empty classroom. Perhaps these could be theme-based office hours (e.g. test prep, participating in research, finding internships, applying to graduate school)
Faculty are partners with students in the learning process. The more resources students can access, the more successful the partnership.
If you’re interested in a unique and engaging classroom experience, consider holding class at the Big Chico Creek Ecological Reserve (BCCER). Classes ranging from art and journalism to agriculture and construction management utilize the BCCER. It’s a 25-minute drive from campus (on Hwy 32 near Forrest Ranch). Thousands of people every year visit the 4,000 acres of diverse ecosystems.
They are open every weekday and have staff and resources to help you and your students have the best learning experience possible. Visit their websitefor more information and to explore how you can best utilize this wonderful resource. Also, you can view upcoming events and opportunities on their Facebook page.
The first attached flyer has more information on BCCER. The second attached flyer is an open house they’re hosting on April 21. For additional questions or to set up a visit, contact:
Jon Aull, Education and Research Coordinator
CSUC Ecological Reserves
Video has become a useful tool in classrooms all over the world. Have you ever wanted to create a video of a lecture or speech to augment your course? Our friends in Creative Media Technologies just opened a new multimedia recording studio for faculty to use. You can create high-definition videos for just about any educational purpose you can imagine. For example, embed videos in Blackboard with Kaltura for use in face-to-face, online, flipped, hybrid, or remote courses. You can integrate a document-camera or PPT slides into your video to create a top-notch presentation. The studio, located in 027B, is also equipped with a useful new technology called Learning Glass, which incorporates a transparent LED-lit whiteboard along with a neon marker so you can write in a way that engages your audience. Click here for a 90-second video demonstration.
To visit the studio and learn more, contact Classroom Technology Services at 898-5475.
Book club invitation to the first 20 respondents – See below
No matter how applicable, relevant, or even entertaining your teaching is, some students will not be engaged in class. Some are blatantly disengaged as they sit in the front row texting or even sleeping. Others go to the trouble of faking engagement by pretending to type lecture notes while checking Facebook. So, why are some students disengaged to the point of resisting learning? And what can you do to re-engage them so they can be successful in your class?
In their book, “Why students resist learning: A practical model for understanding and helping students,” Tolman and Kremling (2017) answer these questions and more. They posit that student resistance is less of an enduring trait and more of a temporary (and thus changeable) motivational state due to several factors. One factor, for example, is that students may resist learning if they see a professor as part of an oppressive system trying to force a point of view they do not accept. Resistance can also occur if a professor creates assignments or assessments without a rationale behind them. Many other variables can contribute to resistance including students’ past classroom experiences, cultural background, and institutional culture. The authors recommend innovative pedagogical changes (e.g. active-learning, team-based projects, inclusive pedagogy) rather than blaming students for their lack of engagement.
If you’re interested in reading this book and discussing strategies to increase student engagement on our campus, click here to join the Spring ‘18 FDEV book club. We’ll meet monthly on four occasions this semester to discuss the book, engage in open dialogue, and learn from each other.
There is no compensation for participating though FDEV will provide a free book for you as well as coffee and snacks at each gathering. The book is pricey so participation is limited to the first 20 respondents.