While I'm revisiting hoary old chestnuts, what are people's thoughts on office hours these days?
I think it may be an ABA requirement (and/or requirement at some universities or departments) that professors have posted office hours at times that are accessible for students.
To me, this becomes difficult when students have such varied schedules. Some only come part time in the evenings, some are day students, some may be partaking in various forms of distance ed. Of course, no one has suggested that office hours are guaranteed to suit ALL students in any given year, but they should presumably serve most of the students in a class.
I've always found meeting students by appointment more effective than office hours. With appointments, I can typically guarantee I'll be able to set something up within 24-48 hours of a student asking to see me and I have an idea of how long the meeting will take if they tell me in advance what they want to discuss. That way I can be flexible, accessible and make the most of everyone's time - avoiding a long queue outside the door with insufficient time to spend with students. Thus, I have office hours but encourage students to make appointments if they can.
I also like the idea of an open door policy. Generally, when I'm in the office, students are free to walk in and ask questions, regardless of posted office hours.
So I guess the question I have is how useful are office hours in these days of electronic communications and even electronic scheduling for appointments. And are they the best way to go about ensuring student access to their teachers. (I know it's not an "either/or" issue and students may have some comfort in knowing there are times when their professors are at their disposal regardless of appointments. I'm just interested in how others do office hours these days.)