In my experience, students become more confident and proficient in math as they learn to split a problem into smaller problems, identify the underlying concepts and then proceed to solution using those concepts. Then with neatness, organization, efficiency and error correction, students integrate the solutions of the smaller problems to solve the original problem. With time, practice --- and patience --- they will gain confidence and proficiency. And helping students get there is one of my greatest joys.
Relevant college courses I have taken include: Calculus I, II and III, Differential Equations, Linear Algebra, Probability and Statistics, Numerical Analysis, Complex Analysis, Physics I and II, Engineering Mechanics/Dynamics, Network Analysis I and II, Electronics I and II, Electromagnetics and Control Systems.
I have taught math and math-related subjects at the freshman and sophomore college levels. Teaching positions include:
Mathematics Professor, Sacramento City College (two years)
Teaching Assistant, Electrical Engineering Program, UC Davis (one year)
Mathematics Instructor, CSU Fullerton (two years)
During my career in aerospace engineering, the work I enjoyed most was analyzing and solving difficult problems, especially when they involved mathematical modeling and simulation.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: California State University-Fullerton - Bachelors, Mathematics
Graduate Degree: California State University-Fullerton - Masters, Mathematics
Graduate Degree: University of California-Davis - Masters, Electrical Engineering
Running, hiking, guitar, Bible, scientific programming, woodworking
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
In my experience, students become more confident and proficient in math as they learn to split a problem into smaller problems, identify the underlying concepts, and then proceed to a solution using those concepts. Then with neatness, organization, efficiency and error correction, students integrate the solutions of the smaller problems to solve the original problem. With time, practice -- and patience -- they will gain confidence and proficiency. Helping students get there is one of my greatest joys.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
I would determine the student's background, goals, and the area(s) in which he or she is experiencing difficulty. Then I would provide instruction in those areas until the student is adequately confident moving forward.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
I can inform students that proficiency in math helps them to gain confidence and to better enjoy the subject matter. It also opens up many possibilities in related branches of study and in career paths. These are all motivations for independence in learning.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
I would remind students that homework, quizzes, tests and final exams are not ends in themselves (though it may seem that way), but that these all serve a greater purpose. Even if a student does not pursue a math-related career, the sheer amount of discipline applied to make it through math class will pay dividends in the future.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
I would emphasize that we all had to start somewhere. Then I would take the same approach as did my high school Algebra 2 teacher: drill, patience, and respect. When we messed up, he never responded in a condescending way, but always showed us the right way to solve the problem.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
Learning math requires some level of reading comprehension. Thus, depending on the level at which they struggle, I would attempt to help them understand concepts in simpler terms.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Treat each one with respect as a fellow human being. Tell them that in all labor there is profit. Tell them I am not taking the class for them.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
Proficiency in math opens up doors to many other branches of study and career paths. I have had students come back to me after several years and report that they had changed their major to math and/or had decided to pursue a math-related field.