Allan’s current tutoring subjects are listed at the left. You
can read more about
Allan’s qualifications in specific subjects below.
I have helped several students with basic algebra concepts. As with pre-algebra, I encourage the students to see the underlying common sense of basic algebra concepts, and to build their problem solving strategies on them.
Biology is one of the main subjects I tutor, mostly with AP students. Having spent much of my adult life using biology concepts, In particular molecular biology and the fundamentals of biochemistry, I have an in-depth understanding of most of the concepts a student will encounter at the AP level. I've especially had success teaching students who are running into difficulties when their biology classes start to involve chemical concepts, like pH, organic chemistry, and energy conversion. I'm a bit weaker at the ecology end of biology, but I'm usually able to answer students questions adequately.
Chemistry is one of the main subjects I tutor. Having spent much of my adult life using chemical concepts daily, I have an in-depth understanding of most of the concepts a student will encounter in high school or introductory college chemistry. As a tutor, I have ways of explaining chemical concepts in a clear and intuitive fashion, and I know good practices for doing common calculations and problem types reliably. Often, I can identify where a student is confused by a lack of background material, or because the student is misunderstanding a concept. I've had success teaching students who are running into difficulties when chemistry classes start running into more advanced and mathematical aspects such as stoichiometry or equilibrium constants.
I've done computer programming of some sort or another as a minor school or job requirement for the better part of my life. I got serious about learning modern programming a few years ago as part of a career change, and have gotten an associates degree in computer programming, learning C++, Visual Basic and Java in the process, as well as database languages like SQL. I've mostly tutored Java and SQL, but I've managed to help students with the basics of other languages as well, mostly by emphasizing algorithm design in my tutoring. Even with Java, I'm generally best with introductory students, but I have helped some intermediate students with coding and debugging.
Having spent much of my adult life doing molecular biology, I am well acquainted with the concepts of genetics. I have tutored AP students with classical Mendelian Genetics, and I'm well acquainted with the molecular genetic techniques that are often included in modern genetics courses. I'm strongest at the molecular genetics end of genetics. I'm a bit weaker at the mathematical and statistical end of the subject, but I'm usually able to answer students questions adequately.
I have helped several students with high-school geometry. As with algebra, I encourage the students to see the underlying common sense of basic geometry definitions and concepts, and to build their problem solving strategies on them.
Between the Summer of 2007 and Fall 2009, I took three community college courses that covered Microsoft Access 2003 and Microsoft Access 2007. These covered Access, especially the 2007 version, in great detail. I learned how to design and create tables, assigning keys and proper field types, setting validation rules, enforcing referential integrity between tables. and both Manual and automated ways of populating tables with data. I also learned how to update and delete table data and generate reports, datasheets, and forms. I learned ways of doing elaborate queries including those involving joins, sorting, summary functions, calculated fields, and crosstab queries. I learned how to create Macros, switchboards, pivottables, and pivotcharts. I was also introduced to Access SQL and database administration. During the same time periods, I took courses on other database software and on database principals, so I've become knowledgeable about general database subjects like normalization, and the database design process.
I spent a fair bit of time assisting classmates with their difficulties during the courses. Since I've become a professional tutor, I have helped students with their Access problems as well as with SQL and general database concepts. I generally try to tailor my teaching to the students needs, trying to determine their goals and comfort levels to ensure that they learn and that they learn what they want/need to learn, hopefully in way that builds their confidence with the program.
While the Microsoft Office courses I've taken generally skipped Outlook, I'm currently helping a student with Outlook 2007, and am also reading up on Outlook 2010. Compared to many of the Microsoft Office Suite, Outlook is relatively straightforward, but as always, knowing the features is key to getting the most out of the software. Outlook is more than an E-mail tool - it allows you to coordinate E-mail and attachments with scheduling and time management. When I tutor students with this sort of software, I get them to understand the underlying concepts of how these activities are coordinated, with an eye to letting them get the most out of knowing the software. It's just as important to do that as to give them step-by-step instructions to completing common tasks (which I do as well).
A certain amount of the tutoring I do is with students who are unfamiliar or lack confidence working with their computer, usually one running the Windows operating system. I've been working with windows machines since the beginning of the 1990's, and I'm familiar with the operating system basics up to Windows 2000, Windows XP, and Windows Vista. I don't think I'm someone you would turn to for an in-depth understanding of these Windows operating systems, but I do know the basics of navigating them, running programs in them, and coping with common problems. I've gotten certified in Microsoft Windows to show that I can handle these sort of tasks, and that I can tutor others in how to use their computers with confidence and get more out of their computer time. As a Microsoft Tutor, I can explain the basic concept of an operating system, explain how Windows handles various types of user account, how to get around on a computer, how to create and save files, how to start and work with basic Windows programs, and how to set up a computer to handle the most common tasks that new users use a computer for, accessing the web, printing and saving documents and such. As with most of my subjects, I try to explain the concepts simply, focus on accomplishing common tasks, and identifying where my students are held back by confusion by how the System works. All of that done with patience and understanding.
I took organic chemistry at the University of British Columbia as part of my undergraduate program there in the 1990's. I hadn't received any training in it in high school (my wonderful high school chemistry teacher had sacrificed it to make room for a thorough coverage of stoichiometry and other core materials), and I'd only received an introduction to the subject in first year chemistry at UBC.
At first I had a rough time with it. UBC tended to use certain undergraduate courses to winnow out the students who were not serious, and for second year chemistry students, organic chemistry was the population thinner. I could handle the stereochemistry, nomenclature and the spectroscopy techniques, but the endless introduction of new reactions left me swamped and frustrated.
However, after a weak first term, I came to recognize that there were really only certain patterns of reactions that I was seeing over and over again, and with a new focus on identifying the likely electrophiles and nucleophiles in the reagents, I was able to make a reasonable recovery in the Spring term.
The next year of organic chemistry was still a little rough, but not nearly as overwhelming, and I went on to a reasonably successful career in biochemistry where I was able to handle the organic chemistry that I needed to know without great difficulty.
What I hope I could bring to an organic chemistry student that I might tutor would include:
- a good grasp of the standard nomenclature
- an understanding of nature of the assorted organic groups and how that gives a guide to their reactivity
- a good intuition for stereochemistry
- a comprehension of how NMR, mass spectroscopy, and IR are used to determine organic structures
- advice on how to set about designing organic syntheses
- general advice on what actually proves worthwhile to learn in the long run (as in what reactions and molecule types actually turn out to be relevant to biology and medicine).
As a tutor I try to explain concepts simply, to show how to approach the common problems, and to identify where my students are lacking background knowledge. I hope I could apply that approach to teaching organic chemistry.
I have helped people, including elementary school students, with basic math concepts including multiplication, division, and fractions. As with a lot of my teaching, my emphasis is on reminding the students of the underlying common-sense concepts and let them build their understandings and problem solving habits based on them.
Precalculus represents the upper limit of the math I'm prepared to teach (I have helped some pre-calculus students with introductory calculus, but ONLY introductory calculus). I'm practiced at explaining functions and function concepts, the forms, graphs and solution techniques for linear, quadratic, rational, polynomial, exponential, logarithmic, and trigonometric functions, conics equations, trigonometric identities and equations, inequalities, the binomial theorem, sequences and series, basic matrix algebra, and proofs by induction. I can usually handle more esoteric material as well, but it's nice if I get advanced warning of what the student will need.