I recently completed a Ph.D. in Physics at Penn State University, where I served for several years as an award-winning physics teaching assistant. I was a theory-oriented student, so I'm well-acquainted with many areas of mathematics as well. As a teaching assistant, I've worked with hundreds of students both individually and in a small group setting, so my tutoring skills have been honed and shaped by extended time in the field. I've also worked closely with lecturers and instructors, so I have good insider knowledge concerning what to expect on exams, the types of questions students often get wrong (and how to avoid that), and how to pick up on the key concepts and abilities necessary to solve specific homework problems. My method as a tutor centers on asking questions that lead students to figure out solutions for themselves rather than giving them answers. I do things this way for multiple reasons. One is that cognitive science studies have established that the brain is more effective at absorbing content that is actively processed than material which is passively attended to. Another reason is that a primary--if somewhat unstated--learning objective that physics and mathematics teachers have for their students is that they learn how to reason their own way to solutions rather than simply memorizing equations and methods that have been shown to them. Many test and homework questions are designed to pick up on this ability. By leading students to answers, I mean to teach students how to apply their own minds to find their own (correct) answers, which is something that gives me tremendous satisfaction and fulfillment. The question-asking method doesn't always work for every situation, however. Sometimes an important abstract concept is unclear to a student, in which case I will explain it in a way that is tailored to the person I am working with--I will often use an analogy with a more familiar and accessible set of ideas for the student. I also like to use the "solve-one-like-it-together" method, in which the student and I solve a similar problem with me giving explicit instructions for each step as we make our way to the solution. Concept diagrams are another tool I use to help my students organize their knowledge and to make sure they grasp important subtle relationships among the ideas they are learning. I'm happy to tutor students for physics, mathematics or test preparation.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: The University of Texas at Austin - Bachelor of Science, Physics
Graduate Degree: Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus - PHD, Physics
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