I am a senior Engineering Management major at Arizona State University and I am in my seventh semester as a Learning Assistant/Tutor for university physics. I truly enjoy the "Aha! That makes sense!" moments that students get when first grasping concepts for the first time, and am available for tutoring in a variety of subjects, primarily physics, math (all levels), and other STEM areas, as well as test prep. I am set to graduate with a 4.0, and was valedictorian of my high school, an AP National Scholar, and a National Merit Finalist. I scored 35 on the ACT and 2250 on the old SAT (~1540 on the new SAT).
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: Arizona State University - Current Undergrad, Engineering Management
ACT Composite: 35
ACT English: 34
ACT Math: 36
ACT Reading: 35
ACT Science: 34
SAT Composite: 2250
SAT Math: 750
SAT Verbal: 780
SAT Writing: 720
Local music, fountain pens, mountain biking, snowboarding, loose-leaf tea, lasers
AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism
AP Physics C: Mechanics
College Application Essays
High School Business
High School English
High School Physics
High School Writing
IB Further Mathematics
IB Mathematical Studies
SAT Subject Tests Prep
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
While every student deserves (and should receive, once enough time has passed to determine) an individualized teaching style, I find that the best way to approach teaching is to ask the student to simply attempt whatever they're having trouble with. Once I see what specifically they're having trouble with, either misremembered formulas, misconceptions, or difficulty understanding the material, I can try to explain it in a way that makes intuitive sense.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
Fostering a good relationship between tutor and student is important, so I like to introduce myself, maybe make a little bit of small talk, and then try to get an overview of what the student is struggling with. This time is also good for getting a feel for how the student interacts and what potential teaching styles I should be preparing to use.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
Instead of simply grabbing the pencil and doing the homework for them, as can sometimes be tempting, it's very often better to have the student work out any problems themselves, simply acting as a guide for them to get to the answer on their own. This way, they can more easily internalize the problem solving method and work out how to solve other problems on their own, without a tutor's help.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
I find that it helps to enthusiastically and sincerely point out and compliment progress that the student has made, so they have a clear and concrete conception of the progress that they have made. Pointing out that they easily, with little or no help, can complete problems, that they initially simply could not start, can provide a confidence boost that gives them the encouragement to keep going and trying instead of giving up or getting distracted.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
There are many different ways to approach teaching a new concept or reinforcing an older one. If the student did not understand the concept initially, it can be beneficial to explain it multiple different ways, ideally using metaphors or examples so that it can make intuitive sense, rather than just being some abstract concept for them to try to internalize. If it's an older concept, I find it's best to have them attempt to explain it, then patch up any holes in their knowledge as they go along in solving or attempting a sample problem.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
Personally, I find it easiest to improve reading comprehension by attempting to (at least temporarily) slow down the student's reading speed and asking them to try to vividly imagine the scene in their heads as they read. Then, every few paragraphs or pages (depending on the situation), asking the student to stop and recount what has happened, and then asking them specific questions about events that they may not have described in as much detail. Over time, slower speed and more focus helps to improve comprehension. It also helps to make sure the students know that it is not shameful to ask for definitions or explanations of phrases that they do not know, but is actually admirable, as they are actively trying to expand their knowledge.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
To start off, I like to have the student give me a general overview of what they are doing, what they might be struggling with, and what they expect out of the tutoring. This allows both myself and the student to construct a better framework for how the sessions will go, what our goals are for the student, and it also allows me to get to know the student a bit.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
Sometimes, finding actual applications to "real life" helps instead of finding just one obscure example from a field that the student likely has no intention of pursuing. If that fails, as it often does, it sometimes helps to look slightly to the future to see what other courses or ideas the subject may be a prerequisite for. If the student really wants to go into and succeed in pre-med for example, and doesn't understand why they have to understand physics, it sometimes helps to point out how the subject will actually be useful and applicable for them.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
I find that the best technique for ensuring student mastery of material is to have the student first explain to me the subject matter, in great detail, with me asking clarification questions where I feel the student may not quite understand. If they can't explain it, we can review the part they stumbled on, and if they can, I have them work out a sample problem start to finish, explaining their work as they go.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
In my experience, pointing out to a student how far they have come (e.g., they can now fully complete a type of problem that they initially had no idea how to even start) helps to create concrete evidence for how far they have come. Besides that, affirmation where it is warranted and telling them that they're doing well when they truly are helps them realize that they are mastering the subject.
How do you evaluate a student's needs?
Especially in the first session, I try to understand exactly what their goals are for the tutoring. If they themselves do not know their goals, then we can go over sample problems and see what comes naturally and what causes them to stumble. Besides that, simple hesitation or being unable to explain concepts shows where more work needs to be done, and their general demeanor helps shape the approach that I take in teaching.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
I try to read the student's demeanor to determine what kind of teaching style and atmosphere they prefer and/or need, whether it be more formal or more relaxed, or more friendly or more impersonal. I also keep an eye out and try to frequently ask if what I'm saying makes sense or if I need to slow down or repeat a concept that they might not fully understand yet.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
If the student brings materials that they are familiar with, then I'm perfectly fine adapting the lesson plan to those materials. If they have no preference, no materials, or prefer the tutoring company's learning tools or test prep books, I have no problem using those either.