Hi, my name is Catherine. I am a graduate (MS and BS) of Washington University in St. Louis, in the School of Engineering, ranked 7th in the nation, with a major in Computer Science. As an engineer I have extensive knowledge in the area of mathematics and believe that I can be of benefit to you or your student. I am an experienced tutor with strong teaching skills. I have taught classes and tutored students at the college, high school and middle school levels. I homeschooled my children as well.
Math can be challenging, but it can be overcome and it can be a lot of fun, particularly if you like puzzles. I love doing math and as your tutor I hope you will enjoy the experience, too.
In the process you will learn how to analyze and solve new problem types and build on your mathematical foundation. Over time you will develop an efficient approach to evaluating and solving each type of problem correctly.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: Washington University in St Louis - Bachelors, Computer Engineering
Graduate Degree: Washington University in St Louis - Masters, Computer Engineering
Photography, videography, reading
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
Mathematics is an important discipline that continually builds on previously learned concepts and problems. As your tutor, we will initially discuss your current subject, your perspective of your difficulties, and your personal goals. I will assess your abilities and course prerequisites. These will provide us with the initial instructional direction to overcome foundational and subject weaknesses. We will move forward to provide a clear understanding of the mathematical concepts and not just memorize facts and formulas. In the process, you will learn how to recognize problem types; to identify and interpret the visual and verbal clues presented in the problem to selectively identify and use the needed facts and formulas specific to the problem, and to apply all of the information to solve the problem. You will learn how to analyze and solve new problem types and to build on your mathematical foundation. Over time, you will develop an efficient approach to evaluating and solving each type of problem correctly.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
As your tutor, we will initially discuss your current subject, your perspective of your difficulties, and your personal goals. I will then assess your abilities and course prerequisites. These will provide us with the initial instructional direction to overcome foundational and subject weaknesses.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
As your tutor, I will guide you on how to look at a problem, what to look for, and how you might approach solving it. As you gain experience, you will try new problem types that you can pursue on your own. I will gather online resources that you can use on your own, which will challenge you and make it fun.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Even though math can be a challenging subject, you can learn to enjoy it as well. Presenting problems as puzzles, providing alternative techniques to a solution, and providing access to online resources will help you be motivated.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
Perhaps it is a lack of foundational content or maybe it is inexperience with an approach. I will provide background material and thought processes, show you various ways to approach the topic, break down the concept to smaller, more manageable parts, and use manipulatives where appropriate.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
Reading comprehension tends not to be a big problem in mathematical concepts; well, at least not in middle school and high school, but it can be challenging when working on word problems. If you are having comprehension issues, we need to isolate the parts that are troubling; defining each word or phrase in mathematical terms and how to apply it to a concept or problem. As a simple example, the word "of" used in a word problem means that you need to use multiplication. We will focus on the mathematical vocabulary being used so that you can easily understand what is being presented.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
I like to get to know you, and I would like for you to be comfortable with me. We will talk about your interests, what motivates you, your goals, and your perspective of your strengths and weaknesses, as well as the actual subject requiring assistance. An evaluation of your skills will help set the ongoing direction. We will look at the immediate need within the subject area and also establish a long-term strategy.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
I really love math, and my excitement tends to ultimately rub off. The trick with mathematics is for you to treat each problem like a puzzle, with various clues, givens, and ultimate goals. Analyzing a problem in this context then becomes a challenge, rather than a problem to overcome. Using devices, such as a portable device or a computer, in conjunction with the Internet, computer programs, and mobile apps, helps you to be more engaged in your learning. We will need to explore what works best for you.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
When teaching a new type of problem or skill, I will first evaluate what you understand relative to the topic and see if you can figure it out. I will gradually provide clues until you can get to the answer or an understanding. Once we have delved into the particular concept or skill, I will provide you with practice problems that you can work on your own. We will then fill in the gaps as needed.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
Acknowledging your achievements, as small or large as they may be, helps to build your confidence. These accomplishments may be as simple as remembering a formula, or as big as doing well on an exam. Sharing these achievements with your parents makes them really happy, which helps you feel good about yourself and your skills.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
When we first begin tutoring sessions together, I will give you an exam to test your skills with the subject and any prerequisites. We will also discuss your immediate needs and how they relate. Together, we will come up with a plan to begin addressing immediate concerns and foundational skills.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
Every student learns differently, so I need to learn how you best learn the subject. I will do this through observation and experimentation. We may add the use of manipulatives, or draw pictures of the problem being presented. I may need to explain a solution or skill in detail, or you may be able to figure it out all by yourself. I may need to give you extra practice problems, or we may need to go through your homework assignment.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
Depending on the age and skill level, I use a number of tools during a tutoring session. For middle school students, I use Legos to present the concepts to you, and I let you use my iPad whiteboard to solve your problems. We will use games to understand the concepts, such as a number line game to understand negative and positive numbers. For high school students, we will use paper, rulers, compasses, and other types of tools. We will use online resources for working on practice problems. We will use study aids, like sample practice tests, to develop your skill. And, of course, we will use your textbook or online curriculum.