For as long as I can remember, I have strongly identified with being a student. I am excited by learning and enjoy using that hard-earned knowledge. Some may even venture to call me a nerd. However, I was raised with the belief that many of life's richest learning experiences take place outside of the classroom. I internalized this value as I grew up and made efforts to expand my education beyond traditional classroom based learning. Much of my external learning has included travel, volunteer work, and applying my knowledge in different settings. Now (after many long years), I am able to apply my degrees in real world settings, such as my work as a hospital employee. As a tutor and mentor, I am making the switch from learner to teacher, and I'm loving it. Tutoring allows me to be able to share my learning and knowledge with others. For me, tutoring is about helping students to discover what it is about learning that they enjoy. Everyone has some inner desire to learn. It's up to me to help students find it, and help it grow.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: Florida State University - Bachelors, Psychology
Graduate Degree: Saint Louis University-Main Campus - Masters, Psychology
In my spare time, I enjoy learning new things, singing (I'm in a choir), playing tennis, swimming, learning new languages, and traveling. I love being around people, so I tend to spend most of my free time doing things with others.
10th Grade Math
AP Music Theory
Elementary School Math
GRE Subject Test in Psychology
GRE Subject Tests
MCAT Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
Statement of Teaching Philosophy Kevin R. Wenzel, M.S. To teach well is to know well. A broad knowledge base of a field lies at the core of my beliefs about effective teaching; without this expertise, teaching is unlikely to be effective regardless of technique. Those teachers who know their material backward and forward have had the greatest impact on me as a student and as an individual. Furthermore, personal experience has taught me that if teachers fail to convey a well-developed understanding of the material, students may brand a teacher as incompetent and a course as worthless by the conclusion of the first class. Although a strong command of the material is important, an effective teacher relies on more than a strong knowledge base. Modern technology has made information widely available to anyone with a computer and Internet connection. Therefore, my role as a teacher is not to merely be another source of information, but a participant in the academic development of my students. My mission as a teacher is to convey a personal interest in each student's education by having a strong understanding of the material complemented by an excitement and passion for the subject matter. Remove these qualities from the instructor and learning becomes boring and is minimized. Time spent in my classroom concentrates mainly on an interactive lecture that can be conceptualized as a cross between a lecture and a discussion. This hybrid allows lectures to become dynamic and participatory. Personal examples, applications, demonstrations, and case examples augment lecture components and outside text and contribute to a more enduring understanding of material. I also allot class time to thoughtful reflection and critical thinking exercises aimed at developing these essential skills in my students. For example, I incorporate guided discussion questions based on reading assignments that stimulate a dialogue between students, especially where scientific findings are ambiguous or where the field is split. My aim is to promote the personalization and ownership of students' newly acquired knowledge. Assignments outside of the classroom are designed to maximize enduring understanding and promote broader communication skills. My high standard for supplemental tasks, such as written assignments, is purposefully aimed at encouraging students to take pride in crafting a polished product and to establish the habit of putting forth maximal effort. Importantly, these qualities are valuable in any profession. Students may be asked to take a personal stance on an aspect of the course material or design an empirical research project to test a hypothesis. Taking ownership of such assignments communicates to the student that their personal beliefs and experiences are important enough to be fully understood and communicated. In addition to outside class assignments, students will be evaluated by examinations that reflect the learning outcomes of the course. Specifically, tests will require the student to demonstrate a knowledge base of facts and principles in the form of multiple-choice questions; however, application and integration skills will be assessed through short answer and essay type items. These may include opinion questions, providing examples, and asking for rationale or critical thinking to explain a particular concept. In conclusion, I strive to emulate my own philosophy of teaching by providing a classroom environment in which knowledge is demonstrated and conveyed to students by an interactive lecture, and solidified by critical thinking activities and tests that promote enduring understanding and a personal passion for learning.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
A good relationship between teacher and student is a prerequisite to effective learning. A typical first session would include developmentally appropriate conversation in order to get to know them as a person. Having an understanding of the student's personality and driving motivations would greatly enhance future tutoring sessions. Additionally, I would want to assess the student's current understanding of the subject matter. Rather than a formal "test" to measure academic achievement, a conversation about what the student knows may present a less anxiety-provoking situation, while still allowing me to obtain important information.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
Every student is once at the mercy of his/her instructor with little to no understanding of a subject. Educational independence is a long-term and difficult-to-achieve goal; however, there are methods that can promote independent learning that I provide to my students. For instance, once I am attuned to the student's level of understanding, I can provide an appropriate level of guidance. As the student's understanding increases, my guidance decreases, and I allow students to demonstrate their knowledge independently. Other techniques include Socratic questioning to promote individual critical thinking, or using role-reversal to promote taking ownership of new knowledge by asking students to teach me concepts they understand well.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Trained as a psychologist, I understand well that motivation is the key to sustained behavior change. To enhance motivation, I try to discover what it is that motivates my students most (for example, getting a good grade to bring home). During times of frustration, I can listen and understand their feelings, while also reminding them of the thing that motivates them.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
Practice makes perfect! That applies to both the student and I. In this type of situation, I need to practice new ways of explaining and demonstrating tough concepts, and the student needs to practice applying the new concept or skill.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
Reading comprehension can be tough, but it is very important to succeed. There are many different tools to help a student with reading comprehension. One of the ones that I have found helpful are breaking a larger passage into more manageable chunks, particularly if part of the comprehension issue is being able to focus for an extended period of time. Another trick I've learned is reading a passage out loud to improve information retention.