So as a student, how can you make the most effective use of my office hours?
You can use your professor's office hours for several purposes, like asking for assistance on an assignment, requesting a letter of recommendation, or clarifying feedback on graded work. Arguing over a grade, or having the professor read an assignment not yet turned in to see if you are on the right track, are not the most effective activities.
So here are some tips:
1. Tell me you're coming and why. Of course, I am always there, but it helps to know in advance. Maybe I'm having a long line of students from my other course, the one you are not in. I can advise you about optimal times.
2. If you make an appointment,whether during regular hours or at other times, show up.
3.Have a clear purpose in mind. Be prepared. If you have a form for me to sign have it ready. Don't carry an uncovered cup of coke into my office.
4. Tell me the thesis of your paper, but don't ask me to proofread the first three pages. Ask me for clarification of a point from class, but don't ask me to repeat an entire day's worth of material that you missed.
5. You are forging part of your professional network by coming to see me. I might write you a recommendation in the future, after all. You are not wasting my time, because office hours and writing recommendations are a significant part of my job. I do want to know about your career aspirations and interests, because I need to know something about you if you need my help later on. So does your visit to my office further this aim? If you are complaining about a grade, or otherwise being a high maintenance student, you are not making a good impression on me. It is more impressive to day "How can I improve my performance" than to say, "Why did you give me a B- on this paper?"