My interests in the biological sciences lay at the boundary between basic research and application. In other words, I am passionate not only in the discovery of novel information, but also the practical application of that information in the context of human society. I strongly believe in scientists taking an active role in spreading science education and literacy as a part of this process, and this is what drove me to seek a position as a tutor for Varsity Tutors. I graduated with my Masters of Science in Ecology in May 2016, and while I had three years of teaching experience during that time, I felt the need to continue doing this kind of work. My personal goal for each student will be to help them not just learn the material, but learn how to learn better and use their strengths to become self-sufficient scholars in the Biological Sciences. It is my belief that by focusing on the learning processes, students become better critical thinkers. This increases their scientific literacy and, most importantly, allows them to share that knowledge with others.
Undergraduate Degree: Kent State University at Kent - Bachelors, Organismal Biology
Graduate Degree: Ohio State University-Main Campus - Masters, Evolution, Ecology and Organismal Biology
ACT English: 34
ACT Reading: 32
ACT Science: 36
SAT Composite (1600 scale): 1510
SAT Math: 720
SAT Verbal: 740
SAT Writing: 730
AP Biology: 5
AP Chemistry: 4
AP Calculus AB: 5
AP Physics B: 5
AP US History: 4
GRE Analytical Writing: 5.5
AP U.S. Government & Politics: 5
Interests: Environmental sciences research and policy, especially regarding climate change. Hobbies: fishing, Pathfinder, Magic the Gathering
What is your teaching philosophy?
My teaching philosophy is that, as much as it is important to learn the material, it is equally important for students to learn how to learn. This means both engaging with students using a variety of teaching styles (e.g., not just lecturing but also providing hands-on activities, audio/visual aids, etc.) as well as helping students find their own learning styles so they can better engage with the material outside the classroom. Once students understand their own learning styles, they can use their strengths to approach what they are learning in a way that is comfortable to them.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
In a typical first session, I would first want to know more about the student before getting into the details of the material at hand. First, I would want to know their academic background, especially related to the subject we would be working on. Then I would want to know about their learning style. Do they learn best by listening, reading, or performing an action? Next, I would want to understand how learning takes place in the classroom (Is it entirely lecture based? Are there hands-on activities? etc.). Finally, it would be important for me to know their goals and what they hope to accomplish with me as their tutor. Understanding these things will give me a lot more context to work in, because often it is not just the material that is difficult; it is how a student approaches the material that makes it seem difficult. By establishing a student's strengths and learning style first, I can best craft a plan for going forward and help my student learn the material in the way that works best for them, leading them to self-sufficiency.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
In order to help my students become independent learners, I will work with them to not only learn the material they are struggling with, but also learn how to learn better. In teaching it can be difficult to appeal to each student's learning style at once, and so a student who is primarily a visual learner may struggle in a lecture-based classroom. Therefore, it is important to identify each student's learning style so that they understand how they best learn. Then I can help them focus on strategies and techniques for engaging the material they are trying to learn that play to their own learning style. As they become more comfortable with these tools, they should see greater understanding and retention of material, ultimately leading to their own self-sufficiency.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Sometimes when a subject is difficult to understand, it can be frustrating and demotivating. By helping a student understand his/her learning style, I can also help them engage the material from their own personal strengths. This alone can be motivating because students begin to see that they are capable of learning and understanding the material independently, and that often it becomes a lot more interesting simply because of that. I also want to know my student's goals, not only for our sessions together but also beyond that. By helping them understand how their learning fits into their own personal goals, I can help them stay motivated and focused on things that aren't necessarily what makes them most excited.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
Often, when a student is having trouble learning a concept or skill, it is because they aren't aware of their own learning style and/or don't know how to approach learning the material using their personal style and strengths. The first thing I would do is identify what those strengths are (i.e., is the student a kinesthetic or visual learner?). The next step would be to generate learning materials that play to those strengths. For example, I would work with a visual student to generate diagrams that put the concept into a visual perspective. The last step of the process would be to check for understanding using everything from concept mapping to practice test questions. This would ensure that they not only understand the concept from their point of view, but that they can translate and apply that knowledge to questions they might see on an exam.