My name is Gavin Heim, and I am a second-year Biochemistry student at the University of California, San Diego. I would like to attend medical school after my time as an undergraduate, so, in addition to coursework related to chemistry, I have done pre-medicine courses such as biology, which deviate from my major curriculum. I am a dedicated, motivated learner who wishes to help students struggling in science and math courses in high school and college. I want to garner more experience in tutoring and teach students how to solve problems because the solution to most of the world's issues will involve critical thinking and high-level problem solving. As a result, having a good ability to solve problems is rather important. In addition to science, I am also interested in economics as I took a sequence for general education.
My hobbies include weight training, understanding nutrition and exercise science, soccer, basketball, and following major American sports leagues. I played soccer for my entire life up until college, and doing so has taught me the essence of leadership, camaraderie, and competition. I try to live a very active and healthy lifestyle. As a future physician, I think that it is important the people do the best they can to eat right, stay active, and take good care of their bodies. I want to embody the values of medicine and live my entire life as healthy as possible.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: University of California-San Diego - Bachelors, Biochemistry/Chemistry
Weight Training, Cycling, Hiking, Soccer, Nutrition
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
I do my best to teach students to understand the concepts and be able to think and apply what they learn. Chances are, on tests and in the real world, one will be exposed to new problems that they have never seen before rather than deviations of what they were exposed to in the homework. I like to give problems that are easy in the beginning, depending on the subject, then ramp up the difficulty over time as the student comes to understand the subject.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
I will try to get a better understanding of the specific areas that the student is having issues with. For example, if the student needs help in organic chemistry, I will ask, possibly beforehand, what the specific problem areas are. I will explain the concepts the way I learned them to see if the student will understand it in a different perspective from how they were taught. I will spend whatever time I need to do this so that the student understands the concepts. Finally, if time permits, I will teach problems and problem solving strategy if they subject warrants this.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
I can teach the student to solve problems. In areas such as general chemistry, organic chemistry, and mathematics, it is important that the student understands how to solve problems. By teaching problem solving strategies, the student can become an independent learner by applying problem-solving concepts specific to their subject. If studying habits are the issue, I can teach the student the best ways to study for that specific subject area. If they can perpetuate these ideas in their own studies, they will see success.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
I would make sure that the student establishes goals that are both long term and short term. Depending on their age and education level, I would want them to figure out what they want to do after say high school or college. By knowing what they want to do in the future, they can use their goals as an incentive to do well in the short-run in a specific class or a test. I know what it is like to face an arduous term or set of classes, and I know what it takes to recover.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
I would take a step back with the student and make sure they understand the fundamentals. For example, with organic chemistry, I would make sure that the student applies their understanding in electron distributions and polarities due to different atoms. Going back to the fundamentals will allow the student to approach problems step-by-step and eventually learn to solve problems when pressed for time.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
I would tell them that they should annotate as the read. If it is some kind of prose, they should make notes in the margins. This way, they can think about what is going on in the text and interact with it in a way so that they can understand what is going on. Bottom line, annotations while reading prose are a great way to make sure that the reader fully ascertains what is going on.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
I find that making sure they know the facts first and foremost before doing problems is the best strategy. It is possible that part of the reason that the student is struggling is that they have not taken the time to know the facts. Additionally, they probably have not understood the facts yet. It is possible that the student went through lecture and did not fully understand the concepts that their professor was teaching. By nailing down the facts first, further action can be taken to apply the concepts.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
I would make sure that they spend a certain amount of time on the subject everyday of the week. Even if there are no midterms, exams, or upcoming due dates in the near future, they should spend at least an hour everyday understanding what occurred during class or lecture, and then do some problems. The more time they spend with the class, the more they will become comfortable with the class and achieve more success.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
I would come up with some problems/ questions for the student to answer to test their understanding and their problem solving skills. I would use problems from my own sources in case they have seen the problems before. I would use a variety of difficulties, most likely starting with the easier difficulties to test their understanding.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
I would make sure that they could solve problems really well and get positive feedback. In other words, if they are doing copious amounts of problems and continue to get most of these problems right, then I believe that the student will gain more confidence in that subject and start to feel more comfortable with their knowledge and understanding.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
I would have a conversation about them when I first meet them regarding how they are struggling with a certain class. As I continue to work more with the student, then I will be able to better understand their strengths and weaknesses to better teach the student and help them with their needs. For the most part, it would take me time to get to know the student to best know how to help them with their problems.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
Over time, I would learn and understand the student's learning methods. After learning most of their strengths and weaknesses, I would adapt to their learning style so they could succeed better in the subject area that they are struggling in. It would take time for the most part to understand what they need help in.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
I would use a pen and paper to write out concepts, notes, problems, and examples. If necessary, I would use a PowerPoint for a better visual presentation. I would have a lot of problems on hand that they could solve to test their understanding. If the session were online, I would write things down on a paper using a pen. Then, I would hold it up to the screen so the student could see. If necessary, I would use the whiteboard online and put up problems for them to see.