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AAHmazing chemistry tutoring session: how, what and whys!

First, I would say that the two most important qualities a tutor must have are true care for the student and passion for the subject taught. Everything else is a matter of practice and experience. What is the goal of tutoring? It’s not to simply share knowledge (that’s what professors do during lectures), and not show how to solve problems (even though it is a part of the session), but rather to make sure that the student understands the material on her own, and is able to solve problems. This requires first, showing and explaining the material, followed by showing how to do problems and finally guiding student through the problems and helping her with any confusion that arises along, making sure that at the end, she has mastered the material. You can see in many advertisements that lessons are geared uniquely towards each student. That sounds great. But what does it mean? When I get on the phone with a student, the fist question I ask is what college or high school does she go to? Even though general chemistry has exactly the same topics in all colleges, it is essential to gear the lesson towards what the professor has emphasized and the style of problems she likes to use. After all, who is making the test? Furthermore, it is very important to see what ways of learning work best for the student. Is she a visual learner? What methods did she use in the past that were successful or not successful? While explaining the material, I like to ask questions. Did the student really understand what I just said? Can she apply it to problems? The more mistakes, the better! How else can we learn, if not by making mistakes! Finally, I would say that the most important part of a chemistry tutoring session is practicing problems. First, showing the student one problem of the kind we want to teach, can serve as a guide, and then asking her to independently do problems with the tutor’s help when needed. Practice is essential! No amount of theoretical knowledge can substitute for it! After learning the topic, the student might feel, she has mastered it. After seeing the tutor solve it, she could feel that way as well. But the only way to truly master the topic is if she sits and does many problems, learning form her mistakes. And therefore, the secret to Ahhhmazing chemistry tutoring session is 3 steps: explain the topic, show how to do problems, and guide the student through the problems until she can solve them on her own!


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