Yale Center for Teaching and Learning

Office Hours

Office hours are an important part of students’ learning experience. Instructors can use the information on this page to plan and schedule office hours and to communicate that information to students in the syllabus.

Offering Virtual and In-Person Office Hours

Compelling reasons exist regarding accessibility and equity to continue the pandemic practice of virtual office hours in addition to face-to-face meetings. Offering a virtual format lowers the barrier of access for all students and makes attending office hours less intimidating.

Scheduling Tools for Office Hours

Canvas has a built-in scheduling tool that enables instructors to set up weekly, recurring office hours. The scheduling tool includes options for Zoom links with waiting room enabled or physical location information. Students may choose the format that best suits them. 

Communicating with Students about Office Hours

Students find it helpful when instructors set aside time during one of the initial class meetings to explain the purposes of office hours, encourage them to attend throughout the semester, and include language on their syllabus about office hours. In the syllabus or during class, instructors can also invite students with scheduling conflicts to email them to schedule an appointment outside of office hours.

Instructors are welcome to adapt the following sample language for their syllabus:

Weekly office hours are a dedicated time that I am available to answer your questions, discuss course content, and generally be of support. Please drop in or sign up for a slot on Canvas to attend office hours on Zoom or in person (provide URL link and building/office #). If you would like help in the course but have a scheduling conflict that prevents you from attending my regular office hours, please email me to schedule an appointment. Talking with students is a highlight of my job — I look forward to speaking with you!

Supporting Students at Office Hours

Some students, particularly first-year students, may not be familiar with the concept of office hours or may be too nervous to attend. Instructors can help students by communicating their desire to support students and see them succeed in the course. Instructors can be clear about the expectations for office hours, such as if office hours are drop-in and no appointment is needed. Instructors may further clarify  that students are welcome to attend office hours regardless of their progress on a current reading or assignment, potentially alleviating pressure for students who feel overwhelmed or not sure where to start.

Instructors are encouraged to share this video from the Yale Academic Strategies Program with students, especially first-years, to help them understand the importance and purpose of attending office hours: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2GM1c5Vk2IY.