San Diego Mesa College
I have had a handful of students and the first question I ask them is, "What is Math?" I honestly don't expect an educated or well worded or accurate answer, but it normally gauges how valuable or important math is to the student. I generally pass on the students who do not want to learn math and just want a passing grade, but those who are willing to put in the effort and want to learn math I do my best to assist. I am not a teacher, I am a tutor, so I assist and that is what I will and or should do. I have never had a student fail a course, but I have never taken on a student who was unwilling to do the work.
My approach is pretty straight forward. After the initial question, I start by looking over the text and notes to look at the course instructor's approach and methods taught, as well as, to critique the note taking. After, I normally ask questions straight from the instructions of the assignments and text to gauge the student's comprehension and then test basic definitions and arithmetic. After that pre-tutoring process, the student usually takes over with the questions.
My first experience tutoring started in high school with the sciences and basic math. While in college, I tutored more and the subject matter was primarily Math. Trig up to linear algebra with some dimensional analysis. The degree I was working on required a minor in Math, so I completed more Math courses than most majors require. Because of the mathematical educational path I took, algebra was well ingrained into me. I can honestly say I scratched the surface of what math is.
The courses I have completed, but the list is not limited to, were college algebra, trig, precalc, calc 1 and 2, multidimensional calc, linear algebra-calc based and noncalc based, discrete math, numerical analysis, 2 courses in statistics, and mathematical modeling.
My last student was near my age and she wanted to improve her life and the lives of her children through education. Her last math course was taken in high school and was over a decade in the past so algebra seemed an insurmountable obstacle in her path to her certificate. It was a tough road of learning for both of us, but we got through it. The course was algebra, which was needed to take a course in chemistry. Both courses were a requirement for her education program. Starting off she did not have the vocabulary and because the coursework was online her professor did not require a textbook. I told her she needed a reference guide to learn the terminology. I had her make flashcards and after our first two sessions she could understand and explain the instructions to her assignments and tests. The road had tears of frustration still, but with patience and understanding and a game I created she more than passed her course.
I have had a handful of students and the first question I ask them is, "What is Math?" I honestly don't expect an educated or well worded or accurate answer, but it normally gauges how valuable or important math is to the student. I generally pass on the students who do not want to learn math and just want a passing grade, but those who are
The initial usually consists of evaluations on my part so I only charge for a single hour but it normally takes a better part of 2 hours tutoring included. Group rates are negotiable.
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I am most proficient in Algebra. My education from junior high school through college had reinforced my algebraist thinking. Almost every math and science course I have taken has reinforced this course. From chemistry to mathematical modeling, all required a severe algebraic background. Most of my tutoring experience has been in Algebra though most were in linear algebra.
This course was one of the hardest courses for me. When I took this course in college it was a 5 unit course and, at that time, was considered the second most difficult course served in lower division math. My high school equivalent was not nearly as difficult and did not cover all of the material. I took this course without the realization that math should be treated as a language and the terms and vocabulary should be valued as highly as the math expression themselves. This course was one of the first weeder courses I have ever taken. It was the first math course that took real commitment to complete. I have a lot of experience tutoring many concepts utilized in this course, but I only took the students who were planning to take a lot more math.
As a grade schooler myself, I tutored friends in Elementary Math. Although, to most it is considered the fundamentals needed prior to algebra, I consider it mere practice of real number operators and syntax. When units are introduced in this course it gives foresight into dimensions, and dimensional analysis and when number lines are used as descriptors of magnitude, the following syntax learned expresses very specific ideas that later in math become a necessity to describe solutions and/or expressions. I have witnessed many high school and college students become lost in their current math course simply because they either forgot or never learned these elements properly.
I have a background in many general sciences. I have taken Introductory courses in Chemistry, Biology, and Physics. I have tutored High School Chemistry a few times, but most of the students I tutored only had trouble with the math involved. Stoichiometry, dimensional analysis, gas laws, and density are algebra based.
Now this is an odd course. The students I have had for this course varied the most. From good math students to awful ones, the memorization was never an issue, it was the proofs that always gave problems. Even back when I took the course, the past math grades were varied with the students that did well or did not. In retrospect, this course is the first of its kind and that had the ability to throw students. All of math before seems to prepare a student for Algebra, but Geometry is a side step from Algebra. The entire course of Geometry can be constructed to not require a single numeric value. All of math before was expressed and explained through the real number system, with number lines and cartesian graphs, all of which required scale and origin. Geometry wipes that slate clean and uses a Euclidean surface or plane to express and explain the subject matter. Numbers remain assumptions and are hardly ever needed unless to express examples. The only process that remained from prior math is the deductive reasoning practiced in Prealgebra and Algebra 1. No matter the prior proficiency in math, my approach to tutoring the subject remained the same. I start from ground zero. The only time when I have strayed from that path is when a student could not read very well.
I have not tutored Prealgebra since I was in high school. Although, I have tutored almost every course above it, up to Linear Algebra. The pattern of tutoring needs remain pretty constant for algebra students under trigonometry. Many of the concepts that cause the need for a tutor are introduced in Prealgebra or prior. I understand the need of legacy for math, and know what will be needed later, which is pretty much all of this course.
I took this exam when it was considered more difficult. I found the exam, at the time, an exercise in patience rather than an academic challenge. Although, I did very well, the exam failed to educate me in the tactics that i would soon need in college. The exam consists of math that does not exceed the first level of algebra and geometry, but does require practice in deductive reasoning and dimensional analysis usually practiced in either chemistry, and/or physical science with basic probability practiced high school biology. By the second level of algebra all of the material on the SAT should be review.
Every student should learn test taking strategies beyond standard preparation before they get enforced later. Every problem should be addressed, but not answered in the order they are given. Its important to be self aware enough to recognize heavy time consumers. Be aware of scoring weight and the time constraint should create a priority scale to the test taker. First, finish the problems that can easily be solved, if your results are not applicable move on. Second, address the time consumers. Third, input best guesses and if time allows double check your results where applicable. A hard learned strategy that is applicable to nearly any exam including the SAT.