It wasn't until the beginning of this semester that it dawned on me that maybe the reason students don't seem to get it is that maybe my policy is an exception, not the rule. On the second day of class, students in my Data Analysis class take a quiz on the syllabus - the point is to give them a practice run at how the group quizzes work and for them to get to know their team, but a nice side effect is that students actually learn class policies that are outlined in the syllabus. One of the questions is:
If you need to talk with Professor Imazeki, the best thing to do is
A. just show up during office hours
B. send her an email to set up an appointment only if you cannot make it to her office hours
C. send her an email to set up an appointment during office hours
D. try to catch her on the phone
E. A or B
The correct answer is E - either just show up during office hours or make any appointment if you want to meet outside office hours. As I was walking around the room listening to students discuss the questions, I heard one group debating this question. Most of the students thought the answer was C but one student said, "No, remember how she said she's an undergraduate advisor so she has to be there anyway during office hours and you don't need an appointment?" I wanted to stop and point out that it doesn't have anything to do with me being an advisor but these students clearly seemed to think that making appointments, even during office hours, is standard practice for most 'regular' faculty.
I know that there are some faculty who don't have office hours, or they say they do but then they only show up if a student says they will be coming by. But I always assumed those were the exception. In my department, everyone is expected to have office hours, and I think everyone is always actually there during their posted hours (or if they are not, there is a sign on their door to say they are sick or something like that). But I don't know, and have never asked, if my colleagues tell students they can just drop by or if they see their office hours as times when students can make appointments. Is it really so unusual to have drop-in office hours? What's your office hour policy?