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Conference Proceeding

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Instructor-student interaction is an important element of a course design, but office hours can be challenging to attend based on students’ commitments. They have time and space limitations that prevent students from getting the help they need and often garner poor attendance. Virtual office hours can address issues related to low attendance and provide a low stakes environment where unhindered learning can happen. Virtual office hours are flexible, yield productive interactions, and all enrolled students can participate. This study reports on three engineering instructors’ perspectives on the efficacy of virtual office hours compared to the traditional face-to-face interactions with the confines of an office room. These classes ranged from sophomore to junior level covering two classes in mechanical engineering and one in electrical and computer engineering, taught over a period of at least a semester and impacting about 150 students across these disciplines. These sessions were held in the evening, twice a week. Information on the logistics of the implementation of the virtual office hours and key details, such as how instructors selected the best time for these sessions, content presentation, and the type of interactions that occurred during the virtual office hours are discussed in this paper. This study’s goals were to find out how virtual office hours impacted engineering student’s learning, whether such an exercise is an efficient use of the students’ and the instructor’s time, and the differences between traditional and virtual office hours. The instructors’ perspectives were gathered via interview after implementing virtual office hours for at least a semester. Analysis of the interviews concluded that the implementation of virtual office hours was mutually beneficial to both the instructors and the students.

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© (2020), American Society for Engineering Education, Proceedings of ASEE Annual Conference (Virtual On Line).