Discover how you too can think like a physicist!
As a student myself, I realize that physics and mathematics can often appear as the most daunting of school subjects. And the puzzles posed by such demand a knack for creativity and the resolve for intense contemplation. Additionally, I propose that the seed for successful comprehension resides in you as much as it does in the most accomplished of scholars.
Let me show you that you don't have to be a 'natural' to tackle the analysis and theories of nature. Whatever your style of learning may be, together we will identify and use your existing academic strengths as a basis for how to approach every mathematical/theoretical nut you may need to crack from the classroom, thru your homework problems, all the way to the big tests.
Prior to receiving my B.S.E in Engineering Physics from the University of Michigan College of Engineering in 2005 I spent 3 years tutoring fellow college students in precalculus, calculus I & II, differential equations, as well as physics I & II. The tutee and I met one-on-one in an agreed upon location, such as the library or a dormitory study lounge. The student would not be asked to pay, for I was employed as a tutor thru a university department known as the Comprehensive Studies Program (CSP). The purpose of CSP is to provide academic support to any incoming or existing university students that have shown outstanding potential for success at the U of M even though he/she may lack some of the basic perquisites for college level courses.
Also, while working with CSP, I had the opportunity to work with incoming freshman in a summer math course. For three consecutive summers I was the student instructor for the precalculus class. As a compliment to the lecture given by the main instructor, students were required to attend my 90 discussion session three times a week. In a classroom setting I would review the latest material and individually address any questions or problems the students may have had. This precalculus course covered one of four core subjects which were part of CSP's Summer Bridge Program, a program intended for students from underprivileged/underrepresented backgrounds/high schools and to prepare them for the everyday college environment.
As a physics graduate student at San Diego State University I continued my tutoring experience again as a university employee. This time I tended the General Math Studies (GMS) 'Math Lab' where students could drop in for help with math at their own convenience. The lab restricts its services to students currently attending one of the three GMS courses: geometry, beginning algebra, or intermediate algebra. As a GMS tutor, it is our duty to assist any of the students in attendance of the lab. Within the four years spent there I also scheduled and conducted several review sessions held in an available lecture hall for any last-minute questions or explanations before a particular exam day.
During the summers I also worked as a teacher's assistant in a summer bridge program structured very similarly to the one at the University of Michigan as noted above. One main difference (besides focusing on algebra and geometry instead of precalc) included myself in attendance during the main lecture to aid students during in-class exercises and quizzes. These classes were a bit fast-paced in comparison to those during the main school year. In one summer we would hold classes for two entirely different groups of algebra pupils.
In my stretch of tutoring it has become very clear that there is no sole strategy for helping all students to absorb information or to understand a concept. As a tutor, I make a personal effort to become familiar with a student's 'learning personality' so that I may steer clear of lecturing (something already available in a conventional classroom). A lecture can be recorded and replayed perpetually; however, if your instructor is not speaking your language, unfortunately the recording of his voice cannot regress. Truthfully, I have witnessed actual humans, as professors and as tutors, who act very much like a tape-recording. They seem to march on, concerned not with whether they have left you far behind. Rather, I find it much more efficient to aide learning with conversation, marching side by side and never to lead too far ahead. I do my best to pause and retrace our route so that when you inevitably ask the same question multiple times, the solution is never explained twice in exactly the same way.
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