Creating a Culture of Responsiveness
Hello, everyone, I’m so sorry we our last session lasted a little bit longer than we expected, so we're back, and we're ready. I want to welcome you to the session, creating a culture of responsiveness, shifting the concept of office hours with Dr. Dana Gray, who is a professor is an endowed chair at Roger State University, and Maryann Lamer, adjunct instructor at Roger State.
So welcome. So welcome. Maryann can you hear me I can we're getting in now.
Okay, perfect. Okay, perfect. Alright, give us just 1 min to get this loaded. Oh, I haven't we have an updated presentation Sorry I was in the prior session and couldn't get out of the zoom room Any time you'd like to start. Okay, welcome everyone I my name is Dana Gray, and I’m been with our institution since
2005, and I’m here with Dr. Lamer today, and we have a presentation creating a culture of responsiveness. The concept of office hours, and this is a topic that has been of interest to us for some time in our presentation, and I realize we're running. We need to get started quickly. we're going to talk about the importance, historical context, and the efficiency or effectiveness for efficacy of in-person office hours.
How the learning environment has changed in the last 20 years, and particularly in the last 3 years after Covid or during Covid. And we're going to borrow some concepts from marketing both Maryann and I are marketing instructors. And talk about service dimensions and delivery gaps. And then we want to talk about how we can create a culture of responsiveness.
And hopefully, we can get all that in in the next 20 min. Okay, the importance and historical context of in-person office hours. So, the research literature says that the concept began different decades ago, literally decades ago. With the notion that faculty needed to be available to students outside of the classroom.
And so, the concept was developed for faculty to sit in their offices, and during schedule times for scheduled office hours. That has that worked for some time, or at least was implemented for some time several decades. Actually, technology shifted, and the when the Internet and browser was developed for educational purposes about 20 years ago. Then we started seeing the growth of online learning email and some development of new tools.
So, we have some extensive research literature here regarding how important, fatally availability outside of the classroom is. But the format that that takes in the and the effectiveness can vary greatly As I mentioned traditionally, faculty outside of the classroom, defined office hours, as times when they would go physically, sit in their offices and wait for students to visit them, or to schedule appointments and learners today especially adult learners, have multiple demands. They work, they have families. They may be online students. they may not live on campus or even live in the same area.
So, there's been considerable demand and interest in ways for faculty to be available outside of the classroom in more ways, more ways that are responsive. The research literature has looked at the effectiveness of faculty office hours, and from above faculty and learners. And there's kind of a yeah on both sides both because students need help when they need help. They want help when they need it not. Next Tuesday, at 2 Pm.
In person. Our research also reports, Sometimes, you know, they just need to be available when the learners need them, and when they sit in their office for office hours that are scheduled, I may not see anyone for days on hand So, with the transition, our expansion to online course delivery. Some universities have expanded office hours to include virtual office hours. and we see this with many online universities and online faculty. However, some on ground university, still require the in-person office hours.
The problem with that is, we still have faculty. We still have learners who need help when they need help. Not next Tuesday at 2 pm whether it's in a chat room or in person. So, the problems that have plagued office hours continue the lack of efficiency, the lack of use in the perceived lack of value by learners and possibly by faculty. The bottom line with our theory is that learners want to need help when they need it.
And I keep referring to next Tuesday at 3 pm but that's just kind of an example of how random office hours can be. This is even more of an issue like, I said, for adult learners that have multiple demands on their time. So, in the last 20 years, but particularly the last 10 years, we have seen a lot of changes in the learning environment with learners, with technology, with course, delivery and course design with learners. We have a rapid increase in the number of adult learners, and they have increased demand for faculty, availability, and faster responsiveness. And today's commercial world. We know as customers when we call help desks.
We want help when we need help. We don't want to wait until even if somebody calls us back within 24 hours it can be frustrating a little side note I just now got a phone call from the doctor I called this morning they said they would call me back, and I said anytime except 2 to 3 PM. So, they call today at 2:15, 2:10. For technology. We see more devices that are Internet enabled but broader Internet access and reach more learning management system tools and more platforms. We see video conferencing tools and the expansion of in-person office hours to include virtual office hours. at some universities we've seen a rapid growth in online and hybrid courses course delivery format with a great deal of variation in terms, of course, length and start dates.
Some of the more traditional universities still have the spring, fall, and summer terms. Some programs have Oh, and we have 8- and 16-week courses. But some programs may such as nursing may have 5 wait courses. Some universities that are really focused on being flexible and versatile may have multiple start dates programs.
You think about it, even in traditional universities there's no reason we can't have start dates the second 8 weeks of the spring and fall terms right, and to take it a step further. If you have a start, date for 8-week courses of every other month, then you can multiply your start. Time start dates by 4 or 5. course design with have made tremendous advances in quality matters and the growth of the research literature regarding best practices in online learning. So, the question still begs what type of faculty access availability do learners really need and want? And so we're going to borrow some lessons from marketing to look at this concept from a different direction, and I’m going to turn it over to Maryann.
Thank you, Dana. So, if we look at levels of service dimensions and delivery gaps, we look at response in this responsiveness to the student, the reliability that we're going to be there when we say we're going to be there. The assurance that we will answer your questions the tangibles that are affected. That could be the learning environment, the office, the timing, and then the empathy. Are we going to understand the problem? And the question we ask is, do these office hours present a knowledge gap in a service gap? And so, if we look at customer expectations for service quality, and this is really the learner expectation, right? meeting them at their level at their needs. How we manage the perception of our learners’ expectations.
What is our standard for delivering these office hours? The actual service itself delivered. I mean, did we meet in an office? Do we need online to be zoom? Did we take a call that we text? And then communications about the service quality. What they expect and if you look at each of these areas. You're going to find there are some knowledge gaps and standard gaps, even delivery gaps in what we're telling the student as far as office hours, and what we can deliver and that and that's created out of multiple things. Because, there's a traditional university that says you know you have to have these in person faculty hours to meet the student. We have changing student base, right? We also have changing technology.
And so, it's just time to look at this from a marketing perspective and revision. Revisit the notion of office hours so that they're effective not only for students, but for faculty. So, gaps in our delivery create stress. They create stress for our students, and we realized that in general customer service we do see these same issues in higher. Ed. within higher, and the knowledge gap is the gap between what our learners expect from us and what we think they expect. And so sometimes the notion of this face-to-face, in-person, office hours is not really what learners expect or need any longer.
Hmm. And so, in 2017, Smith identified a mismatch between the University purpose of office hours and students Perception of those office hours, noting that institutions need more strongly value and support student faculty interaction. So, we need to be present for our students when they need us. So, our goal, in looking at this research was to identify this culture of responsiveness and to provide some opportunities, some ideas that we can talk about to become more responsive to student needs.
So, we looked at, scheduled in-person office hours, virtual office hours, the combining of these to create a culture of responsiveness so that it's learner centric So we found in the research over the years the virtual offices office hours, help, improve student engagement and support learners. Learners did not use virtual office hours more than traditional. So, do we really want virtual office hours? Do we need to generate awareness for them? What are we, What are we missing here in the office hour? Awareness so virtual at office hours? We kind of the interim step, right? And so, during the pandemic we were, we real, revealed that there were accessibility and equity issues, and that we needed to take the virtual office a bit further. And so, the virtual office hours are great for students that live off campus or out of the city. Or perhaps they have a disability. or perhaps they can't meet in person.
But the virtual app office hours may not be the perfect scenario because they're still not scheduled, or they're not on demand as needed. So, going forward, we want to rethink, to identify the most effective, efficient and valued methods for faculty. The availability and support outside of the classroom So, we have posited flipping, scheduled office hours to be response based and learner centric. instead of expecting learners to make arrangements with us in the office or online at a certain date, that we leverage the technology and allow the student to get on our calendar when they need and want the support. Quality
Matters suggest the faculty include in their syllabi their response times for emails and phone calls. So, this is that generating awareness that you know we will receive a response in this amount of time, so that we're kind of setting the expectations for the students in advance, so that we're not disappointing them. There's an increasing need for organizational flexibility and responsiveness to learners in today's fast pace and changing education environment, and because of increased competition. Business schools may need to be more flexible, and we have to think about being more innovative and responsive to student needs So, learners today want and need faculty who are responsive and available, and we keep mentioning that we're responsive and available.
And we're going to talk here in a few minutes about some things that I'm seeing with clients that we're seeing kind of with some other universities. But technology is a real driver of this today. It supports more timely interaction between faculty and learners and marketing and consumer behavior offers in insight about these service dimensions and identifies some delivery gaps that we're finding in higher ed and online universities and faculty must realize and We've got to take that step further to get beyond the virtual office hours and universities. We want them to support us in leveraging the technologies and the best practices, so that we create this centric, cultural centric of a responsiveness to our learners.
This is the look at the references here. one of the one of the universities. Actually, many of the universities that I work with today are looking at, leaning heavily on technologies like time trade to where you open your calendar for students. They jump on your time trade calendar, and they plug in where they want to schedule time. Now for the faculty you can block your time so it's not an issue of Oh, my gosh! I've got to go do this thing or it's during a family time, or it's 2 in the morning, so you can block times, but this allows the student to choose times that work best for them some faculty departments have even gotten together to share a calendar, to have a shared calendar to where you know.
2 days a week. Susie takes it, and another day Jim takes it, and John takes it for a few hours. And there are all these common questions that we expect students to have about marketing, or whatever class you're teaching right, and so those faculty members will get together. They'll have a list of FAQs the student can jump on anybody's calendar and get help so it's kind of a coming together and sharing the knowledge with all the faculty and allowing that calendar to be open to being more supportive of student needs than the times that they need.
So, you know sometimes I've gotten a student who will try to jump on my calendar at 11 o'clock at night, and you know what if I'm available it's great but you can block those times but it does allow this opportunity for students to feel like they've got more interest that we're being more responsive to their needs as far as picking up the phone, saying, Hey, what is this on the assignment I don't understand this, it's due Now? Dana, do you want to jump in? Yeah, I wanted to add that. Now I am, you know, somewhat different situation. then some instructors in that I teach upper level undergrad courses and graduate courses. So most of my students are adult learners and they're very responsible. For the most part, and so I feel very comfortable. And giving them, my personal cell phone number and I tell them you know now I'm old, so please don't call me the night.
You know. but if you are responsible and consider it about this, I will share this number with you, and so I will get text messages primarily every now and then I'll get a text. Say, can I call you, and just I've had informal anecdotal feedback that basically says I know that you're there for me, and that makes me have more confidence in completing this assignment. And they also think twice before abusing that. and I know that that may not work for everyone. But it's something that I've done for years like more than maybe 10 or 15 years, and it's worked really well in my situation.
I think the biggest shift here is the concept that we need to change, to support our learners, not damn change to fit in with our decades. Old concepts that's our presentation. and I think we delivered it in record time. Are there any questions, comments? Tracy, do we need to turn it over to you? I was just waiting to see if anyone had a question I don't really. I don't have a question. I just. I thought it was really cool when you said that, but by that feedback you got just knowing that you are there.
You are available, and how big of a difference that makes. I think that was huge. I have to a quick story. one time I was at an international conference, so I'm. I'm a president of a US chapter of Oklahoma Society. Well, it's a French name but it's basically the International Association of Business Educators. And I was at a conference in Puerto Rico, and we actually went to the rainforest, and one of my colleagues gives me a really hard time because I got a phone call from a student.
And so I'm walking around you know. in the rainforest, trying to find get the best signal, so I could answer their question, and it was like a 2 min phone call But She looked at me and said, you really are responsive and I'm like that took little time. I mean it was kind of odd unusual but you know they're going to succeed now with this assignment. So yeah, because she still harasses me to this day, teases me about it. But I just don't think it's that big of a deal to be responsive and to be available. I don't have students my experiences students have not abused that.
I guess you could have 2 phones if you needed to. I work in business, perhaps, or use Google voice or another online tool. But it's the basic, really big these are my new so details it's the concept absolutely. We thank you so much today for your presentation. Thank you.
We thank you so much today for your presentation. Thank you.