I have a PhD in Microbiology and have taught undergraduate and graduate level Biology courses for many years. I am passionate about science education and encourage my students to rediscover the joy in learning science. Often students get discouraged by difficult courses, and their immediate coping mechanism is to memorize, memorize, memorize. My goal is to help students (finally!) understand the material so that memorization is not necessary. In my free time I enjoy cooking, reading, and spending time with family and friends.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: University of Georgia - Bachelors, Biology, General
Graduate Degree: Georgia State University - PHD, Applied & Environmental Microbiology
spending time with family, cooking, entertaining
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
I follow the student's train of thought to identify common misconceptions. I encourage students to do most of the talking, since verbalizing our thoughts helps solidify the information.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
I like to get to know my students, ask them about their learning styles, and assess their current understanding. I also appreciate course syllabi to know what the student has already covered and what is ahead.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
I encourage students to ask a lot of questions. The most difficult aspect of studying science is the ability to identify what you don't understand. Often, students think they understand a concept but when probed for a deeper level of comprehension, the shortcomings become obvious. Once we identify the misunderstanding the student can move forward with relative ease. I call it the "Ohhhhhh!" or "Aha!" moment.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Intrinsic motivation is tough. Students are challenged by the material but sometimes become overwhelmed by its level of difficulty. I find it most helpful to introduce relatively easy concepts first, check for understanding, and provide affirmation before moving on to harder topics.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
When reading scientific literature, students often quickly read through a paragraph without having the slightest clue what it meant. I ask my students to read a sentence or two then verbalize (in their own words) what those sentences mean.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Communication is very important in any new tutoring relationship. It is important for us to set clear expectations and map out a plan for the semester/year.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
I enjoy bringing real world examples of Biology into the conversation. There is always something in the news or on TV that pertains to this field. Also, students are often naturally curious about how our bodies work, and it is relatively easy to relate cell biology processes to our day-to-day activities.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
Instead of written assessments, I find that conversation is the best way to gauge student comprehension. If a student can teach it to me (or her mom, little brother, etc.), then I know she understands the material.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
I try to approach difficult concepts from multiple angles. It might be beneficial for the student to draw a figure/diagram, read aloud, verbalize the concept in his/her own words, or complete multiple problem sets.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
Positive affirmation really helps students. If they have demonstrated mastery of a topic, a "good job!" or "awesome work!" goes a long way.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
I spend a good deal of time speaking with my students about their current level of understanding and assessing their learning styles. From there, I can pinpoint misunderstandings and work towards comprehension.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
I bring much teaching experience to the tutoring table. Across all grade levels, students usually struggle with the same difficult concepts, allowing me to predict if a student will understand the topic during a first pass. We work together, usually through dialogue, questioning and answering, and sometimes drawing figures, to reach a level of understanding.