A guide to student drop-in hours
course-based student outreach
who is first-gen in las? Discover First-at-LAS
Generally, a first-generation In Fall 2019, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
college students refers to a launched First-at-LAS, a new academic support
student with neither parent program for first-generation college students.
nor guardian having earned a Created to enhance and enrich the academic experience,
four-year degree from a US First-at-LAS partners with LAS faculty, academic advisors,
college. and staff to deepen student connections to LAS and UIC,
In LAS thousands of students promote engagement in resources and opportunities,
self-identify as first-gen. Many and foster inclusivity and community.
LAS faculty, academic advisors,
and staff also are first-gen. In Mission and Goals
LAS, we celebrate our first-gen In line with UIC’s Strategic Priorities, First-at-LAS strives to
community and the strengths Promote Success and Cultivate Potential through the following
and assests they bring to goals:
Collaborate with LAS faculty, advisors, and staff to raise
44% of first-year LAS awareness of the first-generation college student
students entering experience and enhance systems of support.
Help students develop empowering first-generation
Fall 2019 are first-gen college student narratives.
college students Foster connection and community in LAS around the first-
generation college student identity and experience.
34% of all LAS Help first-generation college students build professional
students are relationships with LAS faculty who can support their
first-gen college academic, career, and personal development.
Provide leadership opportunities for first-generation
students college students who can offer guidance and support to
other first-generation college students.
55% of all Build campus-wide partnerships to encourage first-
first-gen college generation college students’ involvement in programs and
students at UIC opportunities that offer hands-on-learning and skill
are in LAS
Student Drop-In hours
what are they & why do they matter?
Description: Student Drop-In Hours is a pilot program launching Spring 2020 that
reimagines traditional office hours and approaches to engagement by using student-
Goals: Designed to encourage and facilitate student interactions with faculty, the
primary goal of the pilot program is to promote help-seeking behaviors in students,
support academic success, and increase students' sense of belonging on campus. Quality
interactions with faculty, early interventions, and the active use by students of college
and campus resources (tutoring centers, study groups, academic advising) has been
proven to have a positive effect on the reduction of DFUW rates here at UIC and
“Interacting with faculty—whether in the classroom, the laboratory, office hours, or
other venue—is one of the key college experiences associated with student
development. Positive and close interactions between undergraduates and their
professors precipitate students’ favorable educational experiences as well as their
greater academic and personal development” (Kim & Sax, 2009).
While students have much to gain by interacting with faculty, research suggests that
first-generation college students compared to non-first-generation college students are
less likely to engage faculty inside and outside the classroom (Kim & Sax, 2009).
These barriers are magnified by national research which states that students often are
confused by the purpose of “office hours,” misidentifying these as “time for the
professor to work,” or “time the professor will be busy with her office work;” or,
otherwise, interpret office hours as time one may only use when “in real trouble” in the
course. It has also been documented that often students are unfamiliar with the
campus map and do not know where faculty offices are located (Condis, 2016).
Step 1: introduce student drop-in hours
Rebrand “Office Hours” to “Student Drop-In Hours” and define its purpose.
Words matter. This language is student-centered and clearly communicates that you are
available at this time for students to drop-in/visit. Explain the purpose of Student Drop-In
Hours by defining it as a time to share ideas and seek help. Be consistent with the name
across your syllabus, during in-class communication, and in your office.
Sample statement for your course syllabus:
“Student Drop-In Hours is a time reserved for you! Tell me about your academic life at
UIC. Come discuss the material presented in the course. Ask questions about your
assignments. I am looking forward to connecting with you and supporting your academic
Step 2: student drop-in hours strategies menu - level 1, 2, 3
Consider employing one or more of the following strategies to encourage students
to use Student Drop-In Hours. The levels indicate distinct degrees of
implementation. All are optional. Faculty adopters will be asked to fill out short surveys
at different points in the semester in order to assess the quality of student interactions,
measure results, and solicit feedback.
Keep in mind:
Course size, the specific content of the course, and the design of the syllabus may
impact the strategies selected.
Course with more than one section optimally should share common
strategies/approaches/format across all sections.
Strategies menu: level 1
build personal connections to encourage use of
student drop-in hours
Building personal connections with students is proven to promote positive help-
seeking behaviors and use of academic supports.
When students visit your office, use the first minutes of the meeting to establish a
personal connection. Refer as needed to the “Tell Me Your Story” prompts to frame
these interactions. Share your own story, listen to theirs. Encourage students to return
and seek help.
Early on in the semester, use a part of or a full class period to have an open
conversation with your students. The goal of this in-class exercise is to have students
feel that they have established a personal connection with you and their peers, which
facilitates future dialogue and understanding in one-on-one meetings. Share your own
story, listen to theirs. Refer as needed to the “Tell Me Your Story” prompts to frame the
conversation. Encourage students to visit your Student Drop-In Hours and seek help.
Early on in the semester, take a few minutes for students to fill out a short in-
class or email questionnaire responding to some the questions from the “Tell Me
Your Story” prompts. Respond briefly to the questionnaire or email, establishing a
personal connection in this manner. In your response, encourage students to visit your
Student Drop-In Hours and seek help.
Early on in the semester, establish a Blackboard Chat thread in which students
respond to some of the questions from the “Tell Me Your Story” prompts.
Participate in the thread, establish a personal connection, and encourage students to
visit your Student Drop-In Hours and seek help.
Strategies menu: level 2
use student drop-in hours for course center hours
Course Center/Study Hours are described in the research literature as contact
hours scheduled with the faculty in a space that allows for groups of students in
your course to visit, work on assignments by themselves or in groups, and use you
or a TA as a resource when specific questions arise.
At strategic points in the semester schedule “Course Center Hours” or “Course
Study Hours.” Course Center Hours may be especially effective before midterm and
final exam periods. Faculty could make needed arrangements and schedule these
hours in department meeting rooms, department libraries, one of the UIC Library
common spaces, the Math and Science Learning Center, or one of the Cultural Centers
When appropriate to your course syllabus, adapt a class period to a Student Drop-
In Hour or Course Center/Study Hour and hold meetings in the assigned
classroom (one-on-one or in small groups) during the time they have slotted in their
schedule for your course.
Strategies menu: level 3
additional strategies for promoting use of
student drop-in hours
Go virtual and/or require attendance.
Offer Virtual Student Drop-In Hours, which can be held live on Blackboard Collaborate
other online platforms.
Require students to attend at least one Student Drop-In Hour in the first 3 or 4
weeks of the semester, and an additional X number of times during the
remaining time of the semester. Student Drop-In Hours may count towards a clearly
stated percentage of the participation grade or final grade for the course.
Alternatively, each visit may count for a homework grade. Include this grading
information in the syllabus and repeat throughout the semester.
additional information & resources
tips for success
Create a welcoming environment by keeping the doors to your office open during
Student Drop-In Hours, as well as the entry to the Course Center/Study Hour location.
Remind students repeatedly throughout the semester of the academic value of visiting
your Student Drop-In Hours.
Consider offering Student Drop-In Hours at different times during the week and, when
possible, be flexible with appointments.
Offer assignment points or extra-credit points for visits to Student Drop-In Hours.
Encourage students to attend Student Drop-In Hours/Course Center Hours on their
own or in small groups.
Use meetings to guide academic success in your course, as well as promote help-
seeking behaviors such as the use of tutoring centers, TA resources when available, the
library, the wellness center, etc.
Students who feel personal connections with faculty are more likley to seek academic
advice and support. Facilitate dialogue by using the conversation prompts offered in
the “Tell Me Your Story” campaign poster and prompt card (see below).
Remind students of your office and course center/study hour locations; and include a
map, via email or in the syllabus, to avoid confusion. You may incorporate in week 1 or
2 of the semester a fun “field-trip” activity to your office or course center study site.
When available, use your TA(s) as an option for students to visit Student Drop-In Hour
Throughout the semester, reiterate the visitation policy on your syllabus if established
as a requirement.
relevant faculty engagement &
office hours research
Young, K. & Sax, L. 2009. “Student-Faculty Interaction in Research Universities:
Differences by Student Gender, Race, Social Class, and First-Generation Status.”
Research in Higher Education, 50(5): 437-459.
Weimer, Maryellen. “Office Hours Alternative Resonates with Students.” Faculty Focus,
19 Feb. 2019, https://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-and-learning/office-
Condis, Megan. “Making Office Hours Matter.” Inside Higher Ed, 1 Nov. 2016.
Umbach, Paul & Wawrzynski, M. 2005. “Faculty Do Matter: The Role of College Faculty in
Student Learning and Engagement.” Research in Higher Education, 46(2): 153-84.
Weimer, Maryellen. 2015. “Office Hours Redux.” The Teaching Professor.
Nadworny, Elisa. NPR Series “Life Kit.” “How to Make Office Hours Less Scary.”
Quintana, Chris. “Can This Man Change How Elite Colleges Treat Low-Income Students.”
Chronicle of Higher Education, 2019. https://www.chronicle.com/article/Can-This-Man-
First-Generation Literature Review : https://first-at-las.uic.edu/faculty/first-gen-