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The University of Texas at Austin Division of Student Affairs

Texas Well-being

Outside of Class Activities

Professor and students meeting outdoors in informal discussion group

Office hours are often underutilized by students, but when a single check-in and reflection meeting is made mandatory students tend to improve their learning outcomes (McGrath, 2014). These findings suggest that personal recognition and engagement have an important augmentative effect above and beyond additional exposure to the material students were tasked with learning—statistics, in this case. See McGrath (2014) for a sample reflection exercise to conduct with students during office hours. In addition to office hours, consider conducting informal activities outside of class to get to know students on a personal level and help them make connections to other resources (e.g., museums, libraries).

  • Provide informal opportunities such as Q&A sessions and study groups for students to discuss course content.
  • Invite small groups of students to attend office hours.
  • Create informal activities/get-togethers for faculty and students to get to know one another. Examples include:
    • Coffee chats
    • Cookies, donuts or ice cream with different faculty
    • Lunch with students
    • Informal weekly meetings to talk with students about their life goals, plans, etc.
  • Visit different locations on campus with students. Examples include:
    • Blanton Museum of Art
    • Harry Ransom Center
    • Dolph Briscoe Center for American History
    • Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum
    • Texas Performing Arts
    • Texas Memorial Museum
    • Department of Astronomy’s Star Parties
  • Respond to student emails or other forms of communication in a respectful and timely way.
  • Mentor teaching assistants whom you’re supervising in well-being practices.

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Our department had an ice-cream social where administrators gave out ice cream to students and faculty. It gave us a chance to come together as a department and get to know one another on a personal level. Many students told us they enjoyed getting to relax and not having to think about the next exam or lab. It was just about getting to know each other.
—Bryson Duhon
College of Pharmacy

Faculty giving out ice cream to students at a departmental social event

The whole student