I am a graduate student working on my PhD in Organic Chemistry. Like many students, I struggled as an undergraduate taking Organic and wished I had someone to guide me through it. Eventually, I learned to really appreciate and enjoy the subject and I learned how to better grasp the material I was trying to learn. This then lead me to graduate school where I could put these skills I had learned to use on a daily basis working in the lab. This is also where I got my first exposure to both teaching and tutoring students. I realized that I could help students who were dealing with the same difficulties that I had experienced and this was very fulfilling to me. I look forward to using this platform to reach new students that I can help learn and appreciate Organic Chemistry.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: Harding University - Bachelors, Chemistry
Graduate Degree: University of Arkansas - PHD, Organic Chemistry
ACT Composite: 31
GRE Quantitative: 158
GRE Verbal: 159
Music, soccer, Chelsea FC
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
My teaching philosophy is to primarily focus on making sure the student legitimately understands the concepts behind the material they are learning. In Organic Chemistry, the tendency is for students to attempt to memorize the large volume of material and reactions they are given. Despite the time they put into this, many still struggle. However, if the student actually understands the concepts, they can often solve all of the problems having memorized very little material and they are less likely to forget the things they have learned.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
In a typical first session, I like to get to know the student and the struggles they are having. From there, I need to get information about the textbook they are using and a general schedule about what material they will cover and when. With that, we can actually start working. Typically, I like to start with a review of the material they have just covered in class and then move on and spend the majority of the time working problems. I will first work on a problem with the student and then give the student a problem to work on their own. This allows me to see what the student has actually grasped and understood and what they have not. If any particular problem is especially difficult for them, we will go over the relevant material again and work additional problems together until I can tell that they understand.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
I try to give the student all of the resources they need to understand the material on their own. Often, this involves stressing the importance of reading the textbook and taking notes as they go. This seems basic, but many students taking Organic have never actually had the need to read their text on their own and could simply rely on listening to lectures. I will also show them how to find related problems to work online and how to find quality material to read that is related to their class.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Many times, the best way to keep a student motivated is with short term and long term goals. If they see themselves succeeding and making progress, it drives them to continue. So if I can help them do better on a test than they had done previously, or feel some pride in understanding a topic that had puzzled them before, then I can help them stay motivated and keep working.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
My typical process for helping students learn a concept that is difficult for them is to try to explain in many different ways. Usually, one method will stick with them better than the other, and if nothing else, the repetition helps. Many times, this involves teaching the same material they have been studying but from a different textbook. Exposing them to multiple explanations to a given topic is usually very helpful.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
If a student struggles with reading comprehension, it is still very possible to succeed in Organic Chemistry. Organic is very visual, and it is done almost exclusively with drawings. This really appeals to students who struggle with comprehending longer, written explanations. When working with a student like this, we will spend the majority of our time drawing and working problems, and I will explain the concepts to them as we work.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
The best way for me to be sure that a student understands the material is to watch them work a problem. They really can't fake their way through it. I will walk them through step-by-step and pinpoint where they are having issues.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
I like to build a student's confidence by showing them they actually have the ability to solve problems. If I give them a difficult problem and they can solve it on their own, they realize that they can, in fact, succeed in their class, and it's evidence that they actually understand the material.