Asee peer logo

Quantitative Correlation between Student Use of Office Hours and Course Performance

Download Paper |


2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Data Analysis and Assessment

Tagged Division

Computers in Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1296.1 - 26.1296.9



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Cinda Heeren University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

visit author page

Dr. Cinda Heeren is an award-winning Senior Lecturer at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She teaches CS225, Data Structures and Programming Principles, to hundreds of enthusiastic and talented undergraduates every year. She is always game to try new pedagogical innovations, and she loves telling young women about her affection for computing.

visit author page


Wade Fagen-Ulmschneider University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign Orcid 16x16

visit author page

Dr. Wade Fagen is a Lecturer in the Department of Computer Science in the College of Engineering at The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). He teaches one of UIUC's largest courses, Introduction to Computer Science, known as CS 105. His research aims to improve learning by using technologies that students already bring to the classroom.

visit author page

Download Paper |


Quantitative Correlation between Student Use of Office Hours and Course Performance University courses with a significant computing component typically provide support forstudent learning in the form of open lab hours attended by instructional staff. Students visit theopen lab to work on computer-based assignments, and staff address questions as they arise,thereby providing just-in-time instruction and removing barriers to student progress. We havedeveloped an online queuing system that we use to schedule student assistance in many of ourcore computing courses. While electronic queuing systems have been used in computing labs fordecades, our web tool is instrumented to record a complete historical log of interaction timesbetween students and staff. The analysis presented in this paper is our attempt to understandwho uses the open labs, and what benefit, if any, they receive by doing so. Though we have recorded data over five consecutive semesters in three large classes, ourpreliminary analysis addresses a single semester (Spring, 2014) in a 500-student CS2 course. Inthis paper we examine queue use patterns in the context of regular assignment due dates, and wecorrelate staff-student interactions with student scores on exams and on programming projects.Most notably, we find: (1) student use of the lab resources accelerates near due dates (surprise!),(2) student use of staffed lab hours follows the 80-20 rule where 80% of the staff time is spentanswering questions from 20% of the students, (3) the 10% of students who use office hoursmost frequently perform significantly better on programming assignments (82.5 to 89.5 points,p=0.005) and generally better on exams (72.1 to 74.7 points, p=0.104) than the other students inthe course, and (4) students making only limited use of office hours (five or fewer questions persemester) see no statistically significant improvement in their course assessments. The full paper presents a multi-semester, cross-course quantitative analysis of student useof open lab assistance in programming-based CS courses, including correlation with courseperformance. We continue to use the online queue system in our courses and we are using theresults of the analysis to deploy staff resources more effectively and to adapt course policy to thereality of student study behaviors.

Heeren, C., & Fagen-Ulmschneider, W. (2015, June), Quantitative Correlation between Student Use of Office Hours and Course Performance Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24633

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2015 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015