This page is tailored toward introductory STEM instructors considering running this experiment in their courses. We answer common questions below about what it actually takes to run the experiment and what we think you, and your students, will get out of it. Please reach out to the Contacts listed on the side for any questions about this project.


Intro to the Project (4 mins)


Info Session (52 mins)


Instructors – Sign up here!



Lalo Gonzalez



Sabrina Solanki



Susan Cheng



What is the Understanding Office Hours Experiences in Large STEM Courses Project?

This project explores the wide range of practices associated with office hours across the SEISMIC institutions, to inform recommendations to campuses on best practices for these sessions. These best practices will be strategies in advertisement and usage of office hours that maximize academic performance and mentoring opportunities to students from vulnerable populations. The team will tackle this project in two parts. First, they will gather information on the office hours practices that are already occurring at the different institutions. This data will be gathered through faculty surveys, student surveys, and an “office hours tracker” to document what occurs during office hours. This tracker could be in the form of an app, or another easy to use system for students. Once the best practices are identified, this team will implement and disseminate these practices across SEISMIC and aim to increase the proportion of students from diverse backgrounds effectively using office hours. To accomplish this project, the team will need to develop and implement the faculty and student surveys, choose or develop a system to incorporate the “office hours tracker,” and validate their instruments.

Common Questions from Instructors

1. What do faculty need to know to participate?

We seek to characterize student motivations or barriers and faculty perceptions of undergraduate course office hours. We will do this by:

  1. Collect and analyze both qualitative and quantitative data to better understand student motivation and apprehension concerning the use of office hours;
  2. Guided by the results of goal one, we will generate a set of best practices for faculty to use during office hours, ultimately implementing and testing strategies and interventions that can increase accessibility to office hours.

2. What will faculty (or their students) gain?

As short term benefits of the project, faculty are expected to gain a better understanding of the usage and effectiveness of their office hours’ practices. This in turn, will highlight areas of opportunity to improve office hours. Long term, faculty will benefit from implementing the interventions designed to increase participation, effectiveness, and accessibility. We anticipate students will gain enhanced mentoring, greater accessibility, and reduced office hours anxiety from the interventions. We will design appropriate office hours interventions based on our understanding of the analyzed data collected in the first part of the project.

3. What are the steps involved in this project?

We are currently in the data collection phase. If you agree to participate, you would:

  1. Administer our office hours student survey in your classes in Fall 2020 and/or use our office hours cellphone app which captures student experiences after attending office hours,
  2. Link the student survey data to your institutional data (student demographics, grades), and
  3. Complete a short faculty survey that assesses your perceptions of office hours.

The faculty survey focuses on practices that you consider to be particularly effective in increasing accessibility and making your office hours productive for student attendees. The second, long-term goal of our project (Fall 2021) is to start implementing interventions. Those who are interested will have the opportunity to implement an intervention designed based on the data collected and analyzed in the first part of the study. The impact of the intervention(s) will be assessed using the same instruments as before (student/faculty surveys, cellphone app, etc.).

4. What are the expected control and treatment groups? Is there flexibility in this if faculty cannot run the project exactly as defined?

We are currently in the data collection phase; our intent is to collect survey data and establish current baseline practices through our instruments. Given that there is no experimental manipulation at this time, we have not defined a control or treatment group.

5. How will information be communicated to people who have expressed interest in the project?

If you agree to collaborate with this project, a member of our team will contact you and extend an invitation to our next project meeting.