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Joshua

In my time as a student, I have been a tutor or teaching assistant for more than six years. I have helped students of all levels learn subjects ranging from high school geometry to quantum mechanics, including test preparation. I am most comfortable with tutoring physics and mathematics at all levels, computer programming at the intermediate university level, and chemistry at the introductory university level. I also think standardized tests are...well...kind of fun!

Mathematical thinking can be challenging, but is ultimately very rewarding. There is no satisfaction quite like figuring something out. My goal is to allow a student of any ability to become confident in his or her own capacity to develop a deep understanding of the material—to really re-create the concepts for oneself.

At a young age, I knew that science was for me. While at a Massachusetts high school, I won state-wide and national awards in chemistry and physics competitions. By the time I graduated from the California Institute of Technology in 2009 I had decided that I loved physics enough to continue studying it through graduate school. Along the way I took many mathematics, chemistry, and computer science courses.

I came to Colorado in 2009 where I earned my MS and PhD degrees in physics at the University of Colorado Boulder. My thesis work focused on quantum mechanical interactions between very cold atoms and light—which means that I got to do the hands-on stuff (soldering, programming, machining, turning knobs, building lasers) as well as the tasks you would think a physicist would do (pencil-and-paper theory, calculus and differential equations, working out some of the intricacies of quantum mechanics.) After receiving my degree, I traveled for a significant amount of time. Now I’m back home in Colorado and I want to help you learn!

Undergraduate Degree:

 California Institute of Technology - Bachelors, Physics

Graduate Degree:

 University of Colorado Boulder - PhD, Physics

Hiking, skiing, cycling, cooking, playing with my dog, reading

What is your teaching philosophy?

I want to help students develop their own understanding of the material, which could be unique to them. For instance, having a "cartoon" picture of a concept goes a long way toward developing intuition and confidence in problem solving.

What might you do in a typical first session with a student?

First, I'll try to address the student's learning goals and make sure we agree that they are reasonable. Then we'll develop a plan for how to achieve those goals and start getting into the details of the test or assignment.

How can you help a student become an independent learner?

People tend to like what they are good at. As we go through problems together, my students will see that their skills are developing--the better they get, the more they'll enjoy the subject!

How would you help a student stay motivated?

I tend to offer lots of encouragement, especially pointing out when students have previously solved a similar problem. If something becomes too tough, I'll suggest we come back to it later to prevent fatigue.

If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?

I would start by building up from simple concepts, gradually introducing more complexity. Most concepts can be broken down into easier-to-digest chunks that relate to previous knowledge.

How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?

One strategy for increasing reading comprehension is approaching reading with the goal of finding out some specific information. Also, building mental pictures or other mnemonic "stories" aids with recall and framing relevance.

How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?

If I can prove to a student that he or she actually is capable (once the problems are broken down into smaller chunks), engagement tends to follow naturally. Also, I'm very enthusiastic about the subjects I teach, so hopefully my enthusiasm is contagious!

How do you evaluate a student's needs?

There are two aspects to evaluating needs: self-reporting and assessment by the tutor. I want to know what a student needs help with, but I also can identify points of difficulty as we go through material together.