Every year I conscientiously hold office hours, and every year only a few students take advantage of them. The TAs' offices are just as empty. Some students even pay for private tutoring, instead of taking advantage of the free services provided by the university.
This week, however, I carried out an accidental experiment.
As a way of avoiding the drum class, the schedule was a total failure - all of the slots filled up right way. But as a way of increasing attendance during office hours, it was a roaring success.
It made me think: perhaps the reason students don't show up to my regular office hours is that it's really annoying for them to make the effort of coming up to my office when there's no guarantee that I'll be free.
Or perhaps there's a behavioural economics type-explanation - students plan on coming to office hours, but when office hours roll around, it's easier just to hang out with friends and drink coffee. Booking an appointment pre-commits a student to showing up.
In any event, I'd be curious - have others experimented with scheduled office hours? Are there students or TAs out there with ideas about why people don't come to office hours? Or do other people generally find that office hours are well-utilized?