PURPOSE:

It could be argued that Berkeley's greatest strength is its faculty. The more you interact with the faculty at Berkeley the richer and more rewarding your educational experience will be. One of the goals of the course is to help you become more comfortable interacting with your professors. By practicing this skill in L&S 1, you will be better equipped to visit office hours in all of your classes.

ASSIGNMENT:

Choose a Senate faculty member (see definition below) to visit. You can choose someone whose scholarly work seems fascinating to you, or someone who is a legendary teacher, for instance. This can be someone who is teaching a course you are taking this fall, or one of the faculty guest speakers who has already appeared in L&S 1 this semester, or another faculty member whose course you are considering taking, or a faculty advisor for a major you are considering exploring—or someone you are eager to meet for any other reason.

Find out when his or her office hours are, and go to see him or her.

Two warnings:

1) Office hours can be a little unpredictable—a faculty member can fall ill, or s/he might have a long line of students waiting on the day you go, because of an upcoming exam or deadline—so don't wait until the last minute to complete this assignment. Not being able to find a faculty member in his or her office will not constitute an acceptable excuse for not writing a good essay. You may need to try two or three before you strike gold—be persistent.
2) If you choose a faculty member who is teaching a large lecture class you might find yourself in a group office hour instead of a one-on-one meeting. This could be less rewarding, and also offer you fewer opportunities to pose your own questions and set yourself up to write a good essay. Group office hours do have advantages, but (again) don't wait until the last day to attend an office hour in case you end up in a group setting that is not ideal for this assignment. If you do end up in a group office hour, take an active role: if you just sit and listen you will not receive full credit for the assignment.

Whether the faculty member is a current professor of yours or someone you have merely heard good things about, be sure to introduce yourself and briefly explain the reason for the visit. For example: "My name is:__________. I'm in your Anthro 1 class this semester. In another class I'm taking we have been given an assignment that requires us to visit a faculty member's office hours, and I chose you because . . ." While it's best to let the conversation take its own course, your discussion section leader will prepare you and your fellow students by brainstorming possible questions you might use to jumpstart the conversation, or keep the conversation going if it lags. Be sure to come not only equipped with some questions, but also prepared to think on your feet and ask follow-up questions as needed. It can be very helpful to check the faculty member's website before visiting him or her, so you can skip over the obvious questions and enter into a more in-depth discussion.

Please be sure to choose a Senate faculty member, i.e. someone designated as Assistant Professor, Associate Professor or Professor (or Assistant, Associate or Full Teaching Professor, or Lecturer with Security of Employment, aka Lecturer SOE) in the campus directory. Do not choose a graduate student instructor (GSI), lecturer, Adjunct Professor, Visiting Professor or member of the staff for your office-hour assignment. You are required to hand in a slip of paper specifying which faculty member you plan to visit on September 30, so that your discussion section leader can help you determine whether an instructor is a Senate faculty member or not. If you end up going to another instructor’s office hour instead (because your original choice was unavailable, or holding only group office hours, etc.) then be sure the second instructor is a Senate faculty member—if you are not absolutely certain, ask your discussion section leader. 

ESSAY GUIDELINES (2-3 pages):

Simply write a thoughtful, reflective essay about your experience of going to office hours. Don't just narrate; in other words, don't merely write down what happened, although some details about what happened will help to flesh out the essay and help your reader imagine and understand the flavor of your experience. Do focus on what you learned from the experience, and how you think office hours can be beneficial. You can take this essay in any direction you want, but some possible questions you might want to address would include the following:

  • Why did you choose this professor?
  • What did you learn from this exercise?
  • What advice would you give to students who are shy about attending office hours?
  • What did the faculty member do or say that surprised you?
  • Do you think your conversation with this professor will have any long-lasting repercussions?

Remember, these are just suggestions: write up the experience in any way that works for you, as long as you do more than just record what happened (who said what, etc.). Do quote the faculty member if he or she said something you want to discuss in the essay, but don't turn in a verbatim transcript of the conversation.

See the syllabus for specific formatting guidelines.

WHAT WE WILL BE LOOKING FOR WHEN SCORING THIS ESSAY:

1) Did you attend an office hour and speak with a Senate faculty member? (If you met with someone other than a Senate faculty member without explicit advance approval from your section leader, your score will be lowered.)
2) Is it apparent from your essay that you came prepared to have a good conversation (for instance, did you have some good questions prepared, and had you done your advance research)?
3) In your conversation with the faculty member, did you talk about something beyond merely asking about an assignment you are doing for his or her course?
4) Does your essay convey enough of the flavor of the conversation to enable your reader to get a sense of what you talked about?
5) Does your essay move beyond a mere transcript or narration of what happened? That is, do you tell your reader something about what you learned, what insights you gained, etc. from this exercise?
6) Is your essay well organized, and engagingly and clearly written? Have you avoided wheel spinning and padding, making every word count?

DUE DATE:

Your two-to-three-page essay is due on October 14, at the beginning of your discussion section.

RESOURCES:

There are two main sources of information about faculty members' office hours: the departmental website or the department office, where office hours are often posted on a bulletin board. Also, individual faculty members usually post their office hours on their own websites and outside their office doors.

There are two main resources for determining whether the person you have chosen to interview is a member of the Academic Senate: you can check the campus directory and then, if that is inconclusive, you can ask your discussion section leader. Ignorance will not be considered an adequate excuse for writing up an office hour with someone who is not a Senate faculty member.