Recent Tutoring Session Reviews
"During our first session, the student and I chatted a little bit about the structure of the online course she is taking, what topics are covered during the course, and her learning style. The main purpose of this session was to figure out our approach to sessions in the future. I showed her an online flashcard database that would allow her to make her own flashcards, but we planned to meet the next day to talk about the material in greater detail. I started our second session off by pointing out that making a Venn diagram of the similarities and differences between cellular respiration and photosynthesis could be a good way to keep these two subjects separate. We also agreed that crafting a similar table/diagram for mitosis and meiosis could be a good study technique. Because she has a test coming up, we spent the rest of the session talking about some study techniques that have worked for me (keeping a day runner, highlighting in my textbooks/making little summarizing notes in the margins, making/studying flashcards, making study guides that complement flashcard decks) and she began making a study guide of the test material. She wrote the study guide herself, but I checked in with her frequently, and she asked me questions whenever she was unsure of a topic or vocabulary word. I appreciate her sincere enthusiasm for biology, and I look forward to working with her in the future!"
"For today's lesson, we had agreed beforehand to split our time between new material covered this week in the evolution section of the student's class, and older material covered previously. On the topic of evolution, we started by talking about phylogenetic trees (parsimony, rooting), strengths and weaknesses of molecular tools for phylogenetic mapping in general, and specifically the challenges associated with the use of 'molecular clocks' to time-stamp evolutionary events. We then went on to discuss the characteristics of adaptive and evolutionary radiation, as well as speciation in general (sympatric vs. allopatric), and molecular morphological vs. biological species concepts, again going into detail with the strengths and weaknesses of each. We rounded off by discussing the challenges of trying to delineate natural organisms into clearly separate taxa, emphasizing the advantages of having multiple sources of data to underpin species classification. Her teacher provides sample test questions with every set of lecture notes, and in addition to going over a number of these as part of our section review, we also talked about strategies for taking multiple choice tests (deductive reasoning, exclusion principle, the 'Sherlock Holmes' method). For the older material review, the student had asked that we focus on plants, so we spent the last part of the session talking about plant transportation and vascular tissues, contrasting xylem and phloem, transpiration vs. translocation, source-->sink principles, water potential and chemiosmotic gradients. We also spoke briefly of some adaptations to a sessile existence, the need for phenotypic plasticity and variability, and the underlying genetic mechanisms of these."
"The student and I met today and went over the biological concept of respiration. He appeared to have a strong understanding of the material by the end of our time together. I also left him with some videos to review the concepts. There was progress in his confidence found in completing the first half of his exam."