I am a graduate of a school in northwest Pennsylvania with a degree in Biochemistry & Piano Performance and plan on attending Medical School in the near future. In my four years there, I was selected by the department chairs to be the designated tutor for Mathematics (Precalculus to Calculus 3), Organic and General Chemistry, Biology (Cellular, Molecular, Developmental, and Genetics), and Physics, each for minimum of one year. The reason I agreed to tutor again and again each year they approached me is because I simply loved it. It is hard to describe the wonderful feeling of seeing a student you helped master the material in front of you and run through problems like they're nothing. My favorite question since childhood has been "why?". I was never a fan of just memorizing facts, because not only do you not really understand the material, but you are likely to forget it. That principle has transitioned over to my tutoring style. We start from the most basic, simplest core of the concept. Once we understand that, we slowly work our way up until you understand even the most difficult concepts..soon you're able to tell me the reason for every variable in the Schrdinger equation. Sometimes my students also develop a passion for knowing why and I love it. I'm not a tutor automaton though; my other hobbies/passions include piano, weight lifting, classical music (and concerts), composition, and environmental activism. In addition to tutoring, I've spent time in my institution as the head of research regarding nuclear import receptors via the genetic engineering of yeast to express the human AR receptor and the transformation and construction of plasmids.
Undergraduate Degree: Allegheny College - Bachelor of Science, Biochemistry, Music
Piano, Composition, Theoretical Physics, Classical Music, Philosophy
Anatomy & Physiology
High School Biology
High School Chemistry
High School Physics
What is your teaching philosophy?
Memorization should be reduced to a minimum. When one understands the deepest, most basic, underlying concepts within a more difficult concept (such as the orbital theory, thermodynamics, and kinetic reasoning behind the reactions in organic chemistry), one not only masters the material more thoroughly and never forgets it, but is also able to apply it to new concepts they've never seen before. I want all of my students to always ask why and know why, down to the finest details.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
First is to lose the fear of asking questions in the classroom; that teacher is there for a reason, and if you do not know why every little thing you learn is the case or is happening, do not hesitate to raise your hand and ask. Second, many times (unfortunately) the instructor does a very poor job of explaining concepts, so a student should know how to use resources, such as their textbook and the internet, to grasp these concepts much deeper than the surface level. Understanding these concepts to the fullest not only allows you to master the material and remember it way beyond the exam, it allows you to apply it in new ways and excel on future graduate exams.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Always know that "if it can be taught, I can learn it," and that everything can be learned if taught correctly. Sometimes, one needs a different textbook or a different resource (such as a great tutor) to grasp and master the material. I have seen students go from D's to A's on exams with my help, so don't worry and stay positive and focused.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
Very few tutors have mastered the subjects they teach to have the ability to break every concept down to their simplest core. It was Albert Einstein who said "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough." Thankfully, my main strategy when tutoring is to break everything down to the simplest, underlying concepts and principles and work upwards.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
First, step by step, I explain the core concepts in a subject. I do not move on until the student demonstrates their mastery of the step. Once they demonstrate it, I may high five them or show them I am proud of them, and also reassure them how easy this stuff is. Once we have worked our way up, we test ourselves by doing problems (first simple, then gradually more complex). The student sees that they are getting problems right, one after the other, and not only build confidence in themselves, but also develop a hunger for more.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
I usually ask them what concepts they find most difficult, and we review either past exam or various problems to gauge what the student has to work on. Sometimes I create my own diagnostic test for them to take on the first session.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
After five years of tutoring experience and over 1000 students, I have seen almost every "learning type." Tutoring is way beyond knowing the material; it is also having enough mastery to break every concept down to its core and explain it, and recognizing what teaching style works best for the learning type of your particular student.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
I usually recommend the student's textbook, homework, past exams and quizzes, and all other materials that the student has available and is comfortable bringing to a tutoring session. Fortunately, textbooks aren't often needed, as I have most of the information in my head, so it allows for much lighter backpacks for my students.