Math PhD, 7 yrs experience Pre/Calculus: confidence through precision
Math PhD, 7 yrs experience Pre/Calculus: confidence through precision
I focus on tools to make problem solving straightforward, a simple reductionist approach to calculus concepts, and helping students to be kind to themselves throughout. The main obstacle for students not conceptual, but the assumption math complicated because they have learned a long list of processes instead of the short list fundamental rules. That leads to sloppy “bookkeeping”. There are also only a handful of calculus concepts when organized correctly. I have developed an approach...
I focus on tools to make problem solving straightforward, a simple reductionist approach to calculus concepts, and helping students to be kind to themselves throughout. The main obstacle for students not conceptual, but the assumption math complicated because they have learned a long list of processes instead of the short list fundamental rules. That leads to sloppy “bookkeeping”. There are also only a handful of calculus concepts when organized correctly. I have developed an approach focusing on fundamentals that lends itself well to the very structured curricula in calculus and precalculus. Students who really stick to my approach consistently report improvements of one or two letter grades. A fundamentals approach is also very flexible material-wise, so it adapts well to students of different strengths in the material. I have been teaching and tutoring for eight years, seven calculus and precalculus, full-time tutoring for the last year.
Beyond mechanics, throughout tutoring, I try to remind students to be kind to themselves. No one is born knowing calculus. Many students are taught unhealthy ways of approaching math, waiting to be told if they are right. I have different approaches to discuss study and problem-solving strategies that can help take the stress off by placing that power (and responsibility) in their hands. This can range from reading the question more systematically and writing out more steps clearly to time-management and avoiding bad self-talk habits.
I’ve also found that most students want results over warm fuzzies. My ultimate goal is to make the boring parts of math as quick and painless as possible so students have more room for the cool parts. By learning flexible techniques to apply the right rules to any problem, and writing efficient, clear solutions that make mistakes less likely, we can handle problems without the stress and eliminate the urge to do millions of useless practice problems or searching for deeper meaning that isn’t there. Confidence comes through competence. Competence comes knowing the rules of the game. You don’t need a “deep” understanding of things to get started (calculus is broad not deep), all you need is the safety net of fundamentals so you can explore.
A few points of emphasis:
- Graduate from "The Steps":
At some point many students learn to just "follow the steps". As you get into Algebra/Pre-calculus/Calculus this gets harder and harder to do (in fact, instructors make sure of it). Problems vary too much. But with the right approach and a handful of tools, you can handle any new situation. Don't live in fear of "we haven't done this problem type before" or “they didn’t teach it this way”. Learn adaptability and problem-solving skills by relying on foundations. The only problem type is “follow the directions”. Math is about communicating solutions, not reciting incantations. Do math like the big kids.
- Develop Agency:
The only way to learn math is to be able to experiment and play around with our own questions. The only way to learn from experiments is to fail and get feedback. To get feedback on your own problems, you have to know if you are right. That’s your job, not someone else’s. Learn how to know at each step if you are making a correct move and evaluate your own solutions. Students often have good questions about math and guess at new formulas, but assume they can’t answer themselves. Not so. Make math your sandbox.
- Deal with Word Problems Systematically:
Word problems are not special. You don't need magic intuition. We will convert them to more familiar math and solve them like any other problem. (If someone looks like they do it by magic, it is probably because they recognize the situation from a previous problem.) I can also help systematize problems like in calculus II that just plain require more creativity.
- Study Skills:
No more flipping aimlessly through your notes. We can re-style your notes to be quickly navigated and cut out the fluff. Can't find it? It's probably in the book. Reading a math book doesn't have to be scary. I can break down how to attack a section, down to the minute. Spend more time learning, and less time studying.
Kevin has provided examples of their subject expertise by answering 44 questions submitted by students on Wyzant’s Ask an Expert.
Extremely knowledgable and excellent at explaining material!
I never understood how much I was missing out on with my math classes until Kevin changed my perspective on the subject as a whole. He understands that math is far simpler than it’s taught, and he understands how to teach it simply, making the subject about logic and reasoning instead of memorization. Previously where I would memorize formulas and cram for exams, I now have a better understanding of the logic behind these formulas and the methods I’m taught to use. Kevin taught me in a way that altered my perspective, and I now approach math with less fear overall.Milo, 8 lessons with Kevin
Multivariable calculus, he is the guy to go to - smart, quick, helpful, highly recommended. I was able to learn the relevant concepts and additional background knowledge.Sal , 2 lessons with Kevin
Dove right in and gave great advice about where to focus. Shared some good study tips - like what to learn vs. memorize. We're on schedule for weekly sessions. Thanks, Kevin S.!Amy, 1 lesson with Kevin
Skillful and easy to understand!
Kevin did a great job explaining difficult information in a simple way. Several tutors explain things the same way over and over and don't make the material very straightforward, but Kevin did a great job simplifying the material! I enjoyed the session, and plan to schedule more!Syrina, 2 lessons with Kevin
My son felt more confident and prepared to tackle this class. Hopefully the next few sessions will have him completely ready for the next test and provide a foundation for the next few courses.Logan, 2 lessons with Kevin
Very knowledgeable and works well in the online environment
My son had his first lesson with Kevin and he was very impressed...the online process was easy and he said he learned more with him than he ever has in class! Thank you, Kevin.Michelle, 5 lessons with Kevin
Extremely Capable Tutor
Kevin time and again breaks down seemingly difficult concepts into easy to understand pieces and patiently answers all questions in multiple ways to ensure comprehension. I would highly recommend this tutor to anyone who is wrestling with advanced mathematics.Peter, 9 lessons with Kevin
I worked with imaginary numbers, and he was so knowledgeable. He was very quick with getting at the answer. He was so clear in explaining the concepts that it really clicked. He did not push to learn his way. I relied a lot on him to explain the concept until I developed confidence to try to deal with the math problems on my own and you know what? He was okay with that. From that I realized he adjusts to your style of learning and he is really patient.Natalie , 21 lessons with Kevin
If you want to understand the material use Kevin!
What I love about Kevin is he guides me to get the concept down and challenges me. You can also depend on him to help and to have a strong understanding of the course material in order to help you become confident in your work.Michelle, 10 lessons with Kevin
Kevin gives a great overview of Calculus. I look forward to our next session where I will have problems from class to solve. Kevin is extremely knowledgeable about math and was able to simplify calculus for me in the overview.Liz, 7 lessons with Kevin
Response time: 12 minutes