I have been tutoring in physics and mathematics since I was college freshman 15 years ago. I graduated from Juniata College with honor is physics and mathematics and have a masters degree in physics from the College of William and Mary. I have tutored numerous students through physics courses, frequently reviewing the algebra, pre-calculus, calculus and differential equations required to navigate physics courses. My favorite part of these tutoring experiences is seeing the moments where big things click for the student.
I find that the issues most people have with math and physics are the finer details. By discussing the concepts involved and talking through problems with the student, we can elucidate which details are hindering understanding. While helping the students understanding of the material progress, I also focus on problem solving methods and ways to self-check their work. This approach typically gets the student to a place where they can work more independently and confidently, reducing or eliminating the need for tutoring.
Undergraduate Degree: Juniata College - Bachelors, Physics and Mathematics with a Minor in Communication
Graduate Degree: College of William and Mary - Masters, Physics
Hiking, Swing Dancing (lindy hop), cooking, technology R&D.
AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism
AP Physics C: Mechanics
High School Chemistry
High School Physics
Middle School Science
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
If the student does not have specific questions, I like to start by reviewing questions from old tests and homework that were difficult. With physics and math, issues typically start off small and grow as coursework progresses. The review helps us tackle each difficultly separately, instead of trying to work on them all at the same time.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
When working a problem with a student, I emphasis the process that goes into answering questions of that type. This focus helps the student learn how to tackle the general form of the problem, which is typically transferable to future material.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
If possible, I try to break it down into smaller step/pieces that can be tackled individually. However, I find that one typical source of these difficulties is finding a way to present the material that is in tune with how the student learns best. A classroom setting tends to make it difficult to present material in a way that works for all the students all the time.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
A few questions about what the student’s interests are can help me start connecting the material to things they are interested in. If they can see the how the material actually impacts their lives/interests, it makes it easier to connect with the material.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
I find that the true test of an individual’s understanding is if they can explain why. When I work a problem with the student, I talk through each step of the problem. This gives the student a chance to take notes and ask clarifying questions along the way. Once the student is more comfortable, I also like to flip this process. When the student talk me through the problem as they solve it. It shows me their level of understanding and gives me the opportunity to ask clarifying questions.