I am a self-proclaimed math and science nerd with 5+ years tutoring/teaching experience. I have a Bachelor of Science in physics from Brigham Young University-Idaho and a Master of Science in materials science from the University of Washington. In addition to my education I have also taught college physics for over a year. With such a diverse background I am able to tutor in physics, all levels of mathematics (including calculus and beyond), and even materials science if you're interested in it. My personal favorite subjects are physics, calculus, and pre-calculus. My approach to tutoring is to help students re-learn what they may have missed or forgotten and to assist them in discovering patterns and methods necessary to solve problems on their own. In other words, my job is to work myself out of a job; and I am very good at it! Some of my personal hobbies include hiking, fishing, photography, running, genealogy, and blogging about science (check it out at www.matphy.com). As I continue my own education I am currently investigating graduate programs to complete my Ph.D. in physics with an emphasis in optical properties of semiconducting materials.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: Brigham Young University-Idaho - Bachelors, Physics
Graduate Degree: University of Washington - Masters, Materials Science
Science Blogging, Running, Fishing, Home Experiments, Ultimate Frisbee, Semiconductor Optics
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
My teaching philosophy is simple. In my experience, students struggle because they don't understand a concept, method, etc. My approach to teaching is to help the student understand the underlying concepts, and to help them visualize the idea using things they can relate to or already understand.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
One of the first things I like to do with a new student is to review what they already know. This serves two purposes. It helps build the confidence of the student, and it enables me to identify where I can help them most.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
Having formal training as a physicist, I enjoy the why of the problem. Concepts are more memorable when you understand why, when, and how you apply them. As a tutor, I try to help you learn how to answer the why by developing learning patterns that you can apply on your own in the future.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Any subject can be boring if you're just grinding through problems. To help keep a student interested and motivated, I will often incorporate practical applications. This also helps students to see the purpose of the problem.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
When one approach doesn't work, I try a new one. Sometimes it takes several attempts to learn a particularly difficult skill or idea, but with persistence and a little creativity there is always a way to figure it out.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
This is often a challenge that students face while studying science. One particular approach I have found to be very beneficial is to read through important sections slowly and discuss why each sentence is important and what it tells us. This way, students are able to form an image of what to look for and identify what is most important while working through problems on their own.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
The best strategy I have found is to try multiple strategies until one seems to work for the student. For me, tutoring is an opportunity to learn how the student learns and to tailor an approach to teaching that best suits their needs.