The power of office hours

By Kelly Dzialo
Contributor

County College of Morris (CCM) professors dedicate time outside the classroom setting for one-on-one dialogue with students. Three hours of each professor’s week is allocated for office hours or online office hours. However, students often do not realize the many advantages of meeting with professors beyond the time allotted for class.

“I think office hours are absolutely valuable, not only for the instructor but also for the student,” said Samantha Gigliotti, a biology instructor at CCM. “It’s an opportunity where your door is open, that students can just come in as they feel free.”

Office hours allow students to engage in conversation, get to know their professors, ask questions and receive advice on class and beyond.

Professors typically teach five classes, even multiple sections of the same class. Consequently, they stand in front of many students each week. The relationship with most students does not go beyond names.

“In class you can only get to know a student on a certain level, especially the ones that talk,” said David Pallant, an assistant professor of communication at CCM. “They can dominate, and the rest that don’t, you never get to meet.”

The importance of getting to know professors, despite how active students are in class, is stressed by faculty.

Moreover, office hours are helping hands to students and an opportunity not to be missed.

“I feel like a lot of students who are struggling don’t utilize all the resources available to them, and office hours are one,” said Ian Colquhoun, an assistant professor of engineering technologies at CCM. “I can explain something in class one way that just didn’t click; however, I can approach things using personal life experience to help. You can’t do that if they don’t visit you during office hours.”

Professors can only help students if they know where the struggle or confusion exists. Evelyn Emma, an assistant professor of English at CCM, said she appreciates the ease of conversing with a student one on one. When meeting outside the classroom setting, she is able to get to know students on a personal level.

Office hours can also be used for discussing material unrelated to class. “When students come…it could be about transfer, internships or course advising,” said Pallant.

All departments see the value of office hours and are eager to help students in any way possible. Whether students visit professors with general or class-related questions and concerns, each conversation allows the relationship to deepen. Professors’ office hours are announced at the beginning of each semester, printed in the class syllabus and posted on office doors.

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