Go tête-à-tête with your lecturer

Skrevet af Nikita BangJesper Snedker Adamsen, (versioning) - Foto: Jørn Albertus - 20. oktober 2015 - 12:390 kommentarer
CBS OBSERVER's photographer went for a stroll at Dalgas Have to document whether or not internal full-time lecturers were offering weekly office hours in accordance with the requirements that are part of the new initiative; and it seems that they do...

’Office Hours’ is a new initiative that is to increase students’ academic yield through more feedback from lecturers. 

From this semester and onwards, all internal full-time lecturers at CBS will be at students’ disposal for at least 2 hours weekly; a new initiative that was implemented in relation to the start of the fall semester.

During these new office hours students can come by their lecturers’ offices to discuss and get clarification in relation to relevant academic issues.

And the subject of the interaction with lecturers might be anything from questions regarding a subject addressed in class to feedback in relation to a specific assignment.

Formalized help

The aim of the new initiative is to increase students’ academic gain and it was primarily implemented as a consequence of increased interest in such an opportunity among students at CBS.

- You should have the opportunity to interact with your lecturers to discuss lectures and get feedback on your assignments, but from an increasing number of students we know that this seldom actually happens. Thus, in relation to negotiations regarding lecturers’ working hours and responsibilities, we reached an agreement and decided to formalize the interaction and to implement some official guidelines; and at the start of the semester we launched the initiative assisted by an information campaign, says director of the office of the Dean of Education, Wilbert van der Meer.

After the launch lecturers were tasked with presenting the initiative to their students including the specific guidelines.

More information on LEARN

And now, almost 2 months after the launch, it must be expected that there have been different interpretations of the guidelines among lecturers. For instance, lecturers are allowed to ask for an explanatory email before meeting with a student, or to answer questions via email, if the lecturer estimates that this will suffice.

Lecturers are required to post their office hours on LEARN and the Dean’s Office regularly monitors whether everything is running smoothly. Thus, if you are having a hard time finding a specific lecturer’s office hours on LEARN, it is most likely because it is an external lecturer and therefore he or she is not included in the initiative.

- Obviously, it would be ideal if all lecturers were required to put themselves at students’ disposal for 2 hours every week, but that would increase costs dramatically, says Wilbert van der Meer.

Expectations to the concept

The concept and the guidelines are quite simple, but when you take into account all the people involved from a vast variety of programs and courses, it can be somewhat difficult to streamline expectations to the new initiative.

- Most scenarios are plausible as there are no regulations in terms of how these meetings are to unfold. But it is a conscious choice on our behalf as we do not wish to put any limitations on the form or content of the feedback; students are allowed to ask for feedback on any academically relevant topic.

But as Wilbert van der Meer emphasizes the opportunity for feedback, CBS Students’ president, Daniel Andersen, views the initiative as another tool to reach a higher goal:

- In the longer run these office hours are just another tool in a large toolbox; the essence, the overall goal is to establish more and better communication between students and lecturers. Limited interaction, on the other hand, naturally spawns a feeling of dissociation, says Daniel Andersen and continues:

- Feedback should be a natural part of the interaction between students and lecturers.

It takes two to tango

Both Wilbert van der Meer and Daniel Andersen agree that it will take a while before the new initiative starts running smoothly. The responsibility for success lies with both students and lecturers, but naturally there will be an adaption period.

- We need to get better at implementing feedback as a natural element at CBS and now that we have taken a step in the right direction, it is important that students take advantage of the opportunity to ask questions and to get feedback; it is only fair to encourage students to be proactive, that is how you learn, says Wilbert van der Meer.

To which he adds, that it is likely that the need for feedback will vary significantly depending on the time of year:

- Students demand for feedback will likely fluctuate. For instance, you might reasonably expect an increase in demand for feedback immediately before exams and in relation to written assignments.

Open to adjustments

Wilbert van der Meer is also open to adjustments of the concept and the execution after the current structure has been thoroughly tested, and he emphasizes that the current structure needs time before it can become a natural element of the academic environment at CBS.

In about a year we will evaluate the initiative and survey students and lecturers in relation to their experiences with the current structure, and then subsequently implement adjustments corresponding with the feedback we have received, says Wilber van der Meer.

He admits that several lecturers have criticized the concept as they believe that sitting in your office waiting for students to come by with questions is hopelessly outdated; they prefer the implementation of chat rooms, which would enable them to help a larger number of students during any one single session and additionally they would avoid having to answer the same questions over and over again.

However, CBS Students’ president, Daniel Andersen, believes that face-to-face interaction is important:

- I do not think that electronic and face-to-face interactions are mutually exclusive and it is possible to develop the current structure. However, I believe face-to-face interaction is the right way to go.

Not a work of wonders

As is evident, both the secretariat and CBS Students have a variety of expectations in relation to the initiative they have both dedicated efforts to implement, but CBS Students is still working to get more opportunities for feedback integrated in the academic environment; among other things, these efforts include a recently launched campaign focusing on feedback and student/lecturer interaction.

And Wilbert van der Meer does not necessarily disagree with the views of the student organization:

- Naturally, these office hours are not the final solution, they are just part of it; this initiative is not a work of wonders. However, it should provide some opportunities for better interaction than does the lecture halls.