I am student at Wright State University (WSU) in Dayton Ohio. I just finished up a Bachelor of Science in physics and graduated in September 2015. I love the challenges in my coursework and the sense of accomplishment I experience when I'm able to apply my knowledge to research or teaching. At WSU I had an exciting opportunity to teach a few of the general physics lab sections for the Physics Department as a student employee. The labs I taught each semester from January 2013 to May 2015 corresponded to General Physics (I) and (II). The experiences I had teaching developed my ability to communicate and share my knowledge with less experienced students. I know how to approach teaching in a way that allows students to actually leave the course with a sense of accomplishment and having learned something useful. I am currently available for and enjoy tutoring the following subjects: Math, Algebra 1, Algebra 2, Algebra 3/4, Pre-calculus, Calculus 1, and Differential Equations.
My approach to teaching emphasizes conceptual understanding, the development of critical thinking skills as well as problem solving skills. These aspects of learning are essential for anyone wishing to become a competent professional in a technical field like physics, engineering or mathematics, or anyone else required to tackle similarly technical courses.
Wright State University-Main Campus - BS, Physics
What is your teaching philosophy?
My teaching philosophy for math and physics emphasizes conceptual understanding of topics over tedious memorization of procedures, or "cookbook recipes," as I like to call them. In higher level math courses, students that rely on memorization, or "cookbook recipes," for solving various "types" of problems rarely succeed with good grades. Any student can remember, for instance, that the area of a triangle is 1/2 base x height, if that's what they've been taught, and then just plug in the numbers for a given triangle; but it may not be as easy to explain why that formula makes sense. As you get into higher math courses, the challenges are going to be too difficult to tackle if you are relying on memorization. It's necessary to be able to understand "why," the rules of mathematics make sense. This was a lesson I learned in high school, and I can confidently say that I would never have been able to earn a degree in physics if I had not applied this lesson.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
At the first session, I would spend time looking over the student's study materials, home work items, test items, notes, or any other items the student is willing to provide to assess their level of understanding of the subject(s) they're struggling with, and what kinds of teaching materials would be best. I will need to assess how the student approaches studying the material, how often they study, and any information on how class time is used by their teacher or professor.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
My teaching philosophy is what will help a student become an independent learner. Once a student understands "why" the rules of mathematics make sense, they will develop analytical and critical thinking skills that are invaluable for learning higher level math courses. After I had made this breakthrough as a student, I found that I learned everything from calculus to quantum mechanics far more easily than Algebra 2. This is because I have since developed a more effective approach to learning, and I will emphasize that approach with students I tutor.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
I think the best way to help a student stay motivated is by making sure they progress rapidly, and never end a session feeling as if they had not accomplished anything. I will produce materials for practice. Learning materials that I develop will be carefully customized for a student so they can rapidly work through many problems and, most importantly, conceptual based questions, all of which will target their weaknesses. I will make sure the questions are formatted in such a manner that they can be completed quickly, by omitting or completing steps in the problem that the student is already capable of. Then, my materials will consolidate their knowledge and work through full problems as the final sprint to the finish line. It's also important to engage students in active problem solving to build their confidence.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
- I will provide more detailed breakdown of the concepts I feel the student is struggling with. One common technique is the use of mnemonic devices. - I will produce diagnostic materials that will help assess what prerequisite knowledge I suspect the student may be lacking, as this may account for any difficulty that I consider to be higher than usual. -Learning materials that I develop will be carefully customized for a student so they can rapidly work through many problems and conceptual based exercises targeting their weaknesses. - engage students in active problem solving to build their confidence. -relate the material to things they already know if possible, or to provide explanations that are more intuitive.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Active problem solving is the most effective technique. If a student is engaged with me in solving specific problems where I can give them a nudge where they need it, they can get through a problem they would otherwise have struggled with. After working with them, it's best to have them attempt similar problems to see if they can make it to the finish line without as much input from myself. When they're successful, I can usually tell that they're pleased with the help and are building their confidence.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
I tutor math. The best way to assess if a student understands the material is by simply asking them questions and interacting during problem solving. I always ask the student to start out the problem we're working on. This gives me insight on the scope of their knowledge, and how competent they are in the material.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
I try to assess if a student knows how to get started on a problem. Some students need supplementary assistance; others are completely lost and need rigorous help starting from the very basics. While working through problems with students, I will ask for their input on what they consider to be critical steps, to assess their problem-solving capacity. Critical steps are steps in which a student is not simply being asked to repeat a formula from memory, or to plug in numbers, but how to use the equations, and set up the equations to fit the given problem.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
If students need rigorous help starting from the basics, I produce problem sets with detailed preliminary discussions and examples. I carefully formulate the problems in order to target a student’s core weaknesses. Students that need supplementary help generally do not need materials to be produced for them; they simply need me to be there to answer their questions on steps they're stuck on.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
I often upload problems students and/or parents have submitted to me. I also may upload notes I have prepared, if I believe it will speed things up. For instance, equation sheets in physics are often helpful.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
I work hard to make sure they are capable of answering my questions as we work through problems. When students get things right, they become more engaged and interested in the material. They get the feeling of success, and this is what builds their confidence.