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Turning Office Hours into Study Sessions: Impacts on Students’ Homework and Exam Grades

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

MASS: Mastery, Assessment and Success of Students

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Liza Boyle Humboldt State University Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Boyle is an Assistant Professor of Environmental Resources Engineering at Humboldt State University (HSU), where they have been since 2016. Dr. Boyle received their PhD from the University of Colorado Boulder in 2016 studying dust accumulation on solar panels, and especially the links between airborne particulate concentrations and the impact on solar power output. Since starting at HSU Dr. Boyle has taught a variety of classes across the engineering curriculum, but especially enjoys teaching classes focused on energy (including: dynamics, thermodynamics, and renewable energy systems).

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Jason Patrick Marcus Reid Humboldt State University

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Interactions between faculty and students play a central role in learning at the collegiate level, and outside of class one of the best places for students to interact with faculty and the course material is office hours. However, office hours are regularly poorly attended. This study aimed to determine the impact of instructor office hours that were transformed into study sessions, on student’s home- work and exam grades. At a medium sized (4000-8000 undergraduate students), public, primarily undergraduate, 4-year institution, hour-long study sessions were held once per week the evening before homework was due for both a dynamics course and a thermodynamics course. The courses and study sessions were led by the same instructor. The study sessions were voluntary and did not directly influence course grades, but attendance records show that on average 17% of students attended on any given week. Data was collected on study session attendance, homework grades, midterm grades on the three midterm exams, gender, ethnicity, and Pell grant status, in Fall 2019 (Dynamics and Thermodynamics) and Spring 2020 (Dynamics only). T-tests showed that for all subgroups of students, attending study sessions improved homework grades, except for African American students (where there was only one student). Additionally, a linear regression analysis was used to model the relationship between student’s exam improvement (between Exam 1 and Exam 2, and between Exam 2 and Exam 3) and their difference in study session attendance be- fore each of the included exams. The analysis showed that students who attended study sessions were positively affected overall, with each 20% increase in study session attendance (typically one study session) increasing grades by nearly 1% (p= 0.321). Only two subsets of students showed a negative correlation with attending study sessions: Hispanics who did not receive Pell-grants (p=0.808) and Hispanic women (p=0.942), but both relationships were very small and had large p-values. Overall Hispanic students saw almost twice the improvement of the general population in their exam scores attributed to attending study session. The results presented here are based on a small study (85 students total), and the small improvements and inconclusive p-values indicate that additional data collection is needed to verify results. However, the large number of students who attended these study-sessions, and overall improvement, indicate that it is an approach to office hours that is beneficial to students’ grades.

Boyle, L., & Reid, J. P. M. (2021, July), Turning Office Hours into Study Sessions: Impacts on Students’ Homework and Exam Grades Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference.

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