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July 23, 2021

How To Find A Statistics Tutor

“As with almost anything, you benefit most by being taught by someone who has a solid knowledge of the fundamentals, has real world experience in the area, and has the ability to communicate effectively.” 
― Ron Glaser, P.H.D., retired US Government statistician and retired UC Davis Statistics Professor, on finding the right statistics tutor.

If you are looking for a statistics tutor, there is a good probability you are looking at a math syllabus full of unusual words: biostatistics, linear models, regression analysis, data mining, survey sampling—that kind of thing.

Statistics isn’t like algebra or geometry, it’s a whole other animal. Even calculus professors can be lousy when it comes to statistics. And if you need help, you may find your math tutor doesn’t make the best statistics teacher either. So, where do you find the elusive statistics pro? Craigslist? The local college career office? Is there a young, fun descendant of the Father of Modern Statistics Sir Ronald Aylmer Fisher living in Portland?

If you actively seek out a statistics specialist, there’s a ninety-nine percent chance you will find what you’re looking for. But if you want a 100% guarantee, here’s what you need to do…

Where to Find a Statistics Tutor

If you sense you need help in statistics, you are already ahead of the curve. Many struggling students can be too stubborn to get help and end up tanking their grade point average by attempting to take on statistics on their own. If they pursue a career that uses statistics, such as sales or computer programming, they might be at a loss, frantically searching the internet for a review course. But it doesn’t have to be that way!

It’s important for anyone seeking a career that involves statistics to find a statistics tutor with a well-rounded understanding of both statistical computations and how it relates to a career in data science or statistics. The best place to find private statistics tutors is online. Don’t be overwhelmed with all the tutoring websites out there because there are ways to trim the fat and find the perfect fit.

Look for websites that have been around for a while, have helpful contact information, and use official email addresses or phone lines (as opposed to tutors’ personal contact information, which can be a sign of inexperience as a business). Another trait of a trustworthy tutoring site is a review section where users can provide feedback on their tutoring experience. This way you can validate a good reputation within your local tutoring community.

What Qualifications Should Your Tutor Have?

According to Ron Glaser, a retired Lawrence Livermore Lab statistician and university statistics professor, it’s ideal to find a tutor who has a degree in math or statistics, or a college student with marked success in statistics coursework. Glaser would not recommend engineers or scientists who have not had formal statistics training as tutors, because they tend to bluff on knowing lessons students need, but don’t actually know themselves. 

You will need someone who can prepare you for college-level coursework in statistics, which translates to someone who has at least a B.S. in statistics or a closely-related field, such as biostatistics, applied mathematics, or computer science. If you are searching on the Internet, think grad student. If a tutor is actively working toward a Masters or PhD in statistics, they will have the necessary experience to teach course material and apply it to everyday life.

However, having academic experience isn’t always enough. Consider finding someone who has experience applying statistics in the workforce or has experience teaching or tutoring. The combination of education and experience in the field will be your best bet for a statistics tutor.

To take the search one step further, here is a checklist for just some of the key elements we look for when hiring statistics tutors at Tutor Portland

  • Can this tutor explain tough concepts in five different ways?
  • Can this tutor use metaphors that relate to the student’s life?
  • Can this tutor adopt an active approach with in-depth discussions about statistics?
  • Does this tutor embody integrity and virtue? 
  • Can this tutor effectively teach us, the Tutor Portland team, before we hire them?

How much does a good statistics tutor cost and how to ask?

Okay, so you found yourself a qualified tutor named Sir Ronald Aylmer Fisher Jr. and he’s fabulous, but you need to know how much he charges per hour. Here’s a statistic for you: The cost of living in Portland is 29 percent higher than the national average. On a college student’s salary of $21,000 per year, with a meal card from the folks, can you afford a tutor?

Here’s the rundown on the costs: 

At Tutor Portland, for instance, we offer online and in-home tutoring backed by a Better Grades Guarantee for our Portland peeps with different budgets. Let’s say you need a statistics tutor for your coursework at Portland State University. We charge $96 per hour for our Silver Plan academic coaching or $384 monthly for one hour per week. Your hours never expire, rolling over to future months, and the more hours you book, the more discounts you receive. 

If you decide to hire an independent tutor without such payment models, you should consider asking their rates upfront. The more education, work experience, and overall skills the tutor has, the higher the rates may be. And don’t be shy— after all, statistics tutors are used to talking numbers.

How to Get the Most out of a Tutoring Session

It’s all about your personal needs. So the key to maximize your time with a tutor is to study between sessions. By being observant (and hopefully excited) about how statistics play out in the news, in school, in work-life, and at home, you will be mastering the subject in a meaningful way. Then when you meet with your tutor to review the lessons, you can have a deeper understanding of the course material in less time.

Now that You’ve Aced Statistics …  

If statistics clicks with your brain after a tutoring course, you may even choose it as a career. Among the industries that hire statisticians, the median wages range from $70,000 to more than $100,000 per year.  Statisticians are in high demand, and according to Northeastern University, employment for mathematicians and statisticians is expected to grow 30 percent from 2018 to 2028.

Now that you found your tutor who is qualified, affordable, and can get you ahead in your statistics class, what’s next? Maybe another class! TutorPortland offers tutoring in test prep, science, Spanish, and English, so contact us if you’re looking for some extra help.

June 1, 2021

How Tutors can Help Students with English Comprehension

English and reading comprehension is a critical skill that every child needs to learn during their education. Without comprehension, reading, learning, and speaking can be a frustrating task for students. As a teacher, all children must learn the proper skills to understand what they are reading and truly digest the information. 

However, all children learn differently. Some students are auditory learners, whereas others need to see physical examples to fully grasp the concept in the lesson. Due to the wide range of learning styles, public schools and current educational institutions often do not provide the classroom with enough variety for every student to comprehend all topics. 

Without the resources needed to help every individual student, some children fall by the wayside – a dangerous side effect of universal learning that can impact their educational trajectory. 

One solution to helping individual students who may have different needs than what they can find in the classroom is using individual tutors. To better understand a difficult concept and comprehend a book, poem, or story, an English tutor can help students work through the learning blocks in their minds.

What comprises ‘good’ reading and comprehension?

You may have heard your teacher in school talk about ‘good’ reading vs. absent-minded scanning the words on the page without really taking in any of the information.

  • Studies have shown that good readers use various skills while analyzing content that helps them comprehend and retain the information on the page. 
  • Good readers use active processes and skills before, during, and after reading text.

Before reading, active readers will set goals for their assignment, analyze the sentence structure, organization of the text, and outline the text to see what they may be looking for in their analysis and comprehension.

During reading, good readers will ensure they understand each word without skipping words or sentences, as this can change the intended message of the passage. They will simultaneously calculate the meaning of the phrases, sentences, and paragraphs as a whole, while piecing together this information into a comprehensive concept. 

When they are reading, they will focus their attention on the sections of text related to their pre-set goals. For example, if they must look for similes in a body of text, they will focus on scanning for the words ‘as’ or ‘like.’ 

After reading, good readers will analyze what they have just read. They will summarize the major points of the text, tie these major events back to their pre-reading goals, and research any extra information if needed to clarify the content.

What are the advantages of improving English comprehension?

You may think you can skate by without having perfect reading or English comprehension. Like other school subjects, you may think this subject becomes obsolete as you get older and only applies to certain professions and businesses. However, English comprehension is a must-have skill for every member of society. 

Reading comprehension is a crucial part of English literacy, being an important aspect of education, business, and communication. Understanding what is written in front of you gives people the skills to succeed in any occupation. 

Children who properly develop their reading skills can read quicker, absorb information, memorize essential facts, and understand written information higher than those who have fallen behind in school.

Why should I use a tutor for English comprehension?

Tutoring still has a stigma of being for children who are not as smart as others or falling behind in class. However, many children have various learning styles which may not be met through traditional classroom settings. If you find your child is a tactile learner, requires multiple repetitions of the same concept, or enjoys writing down new concepts, hiring a tutor can help your child best retain information and improve reading comprehension. 

Tutoring provides students with individualized attention they cannot receive in a busy classroom. This helps children who feel like they aren’t seen by the teacher or those who want even more school work get the attention they need.

What are the benefits of tutoring?

Tutoring programs help children learn how to study, analyze information, and improve reading comprehension to grasp concepts and stay current with their classwork.

Individual learning experience

By using a tutor, your child will not have to wait to get called on in class or spend time after school visiting each teacher to ask questions about the coursework. Instead of spending their time just trying to play catchup in class, tutors help the student fully understand the current concept in a timely manner.

One-on-one attention

Not only will a tutor help your child learn concepts quicker than in a traditional classroom setting, but the individual attention could be exactly what your child has needed all along. Some children can be easily distracted in class or may just need to ask one or two questions to understand a new topic – but in a crowded classroom, this can become virtually impossible.

Giving your child the ability to work one-on-one with a professional lets them ask questions, discuss topics with the tutor, and be unafraid to say they are struggling with reading comprehension.

Improved academic scores

Tutoring helps your child prepare for their English exams, feel confident going into a test, and understand the test material before sitting down to take the exam. Your child’s grades will subsequently improve from increasing their reading comprehension, bettering their confidence, and feeling ready to handle their current course load. 

Encourages self-directed learning

By teaching life skills and studying methods, tutoring can help your child take the initiative in their school work. You can help control the pace with tutoring to ensure your child is not moving too fast or too slow compared to the other kids in school. Your child will have a say in the speed of the learning program, ensuring he or she fully understands the concept before moving on to the next subject. 

Improves self-esteem

If you are constantly behind in school, your confidence will suffer. Classmates may make fun of you for always struggling, while you may feel embarrassed to constantly be asking questions. With tutoring, your child will never have to feel like they are the only one having trouble in school. 

Instead, having an individualized learning program will increase your child’s confidence by providing them with the necessary resources to better their English comprehension.

Improves work habits

Nothing helps a lazy kid more than having a one-on-one session with a professional who demands attention, focus, and hard work from their student. To improve your child’s work ethic and study habits, you can hire a tutor so they can’t shy away or hide from adult direction to do their work and focus on the task at hand.

Positive work environment

Working in loud classrooms or a busy library can cause students to become unfocused and not understand what they are supposed to be doing. By providing a calm, serene, and trusting environment, tutors can help make a space conducive to learning.

Encourages independence

Your child will learn the skills necessary to do schoolwork on their own. Once the child begins to understand how tutoring works, the tutor will often let the student do classwork independently, with the tutor just being there to supervise or if any questions are needed. This independence can help the student in all facets of life.

Trying A Tutor for Free!

Hiring a tutor can help your child fully understand a concept without having to feel embarrassed or shy to ask questions in a busy classroom. By providing the student with the necessary resources and tools to improve their English comprehension in a one-on-one setting, they will learn precious skills like independence, study methods, and self-directed learning to increase their overall aptitude.

Sign up for a free session with Tutor Portland today!

April 23, 2021

How Spanish Tutors Give Students the One-On-One Help They Need

When you’re trying to memorize hundreds of conjugations and spend hours working to get the pronunciation just right, you may feel like mastering Spanish is impossible. Writing and reading in a foreign language takes a ton of practice, and speaking the language aloud fluently is even harder. It requires students to conjugate and translate faster. In a big classroom full of people, it’s easy for students to get lost in a sea of faces or intimidated by their peers. They may not get the individual attention they need to truly grasp the language. 

But the value of understanding Spanish should not be underestimated. The benefits of mastering this commonly spoken language extend far beyond the academic realm. Learning Spanish allows us to connect with Spanish speaking friends and neighbors. It empowers us to travel to different parts of the world where Spanish is the primary language. Gaining the skill of speaking a second language is also great for the brain, increasing memory and ability to focus.

So how can we help kids truly master Spanish when the classroom just isn’t cutting it? Tutoring is the saving grace you’re looking for. With a tutor, kids can have a much more individualized experience. Students can have fluid conversations with tutors in Spanish to get the back and forth speaking practice they need. If they feel self conscious in front of the class, they can get comfortable talking in Spanish with a trusted tutor. Tutoring can also switch up boring routines for students, to get them out of the mundane workbook mentality.

If students are quite grasping the material, here’s the top three ways tutoring will help them Spanish like a pro.

Cementing Speaking Skills

Tutors allow students to drive home their speaking skills by having fluid back and forth conversations in Spanish. Learning a language is not like picking up math, science, or even English. It requires more than just rote practice. Students need to have frequent conversations in Spanish to really be able to translate with speed. 

But learning in a classroom with thirty other people makes it hard for students to get those conversational skills. There’s not a lot of chances to have one-on-one conversations with their teachers, as there are so many students and only so much time.

Tutoring brings a personal component that’s missing in the classroom. Students can have discussions in Spanish with a tutor who is fluent, even doing whole sessions in Spanish once kids get to a certain level of ability. A tutor can point out exactly where kids are missing the mark in these conversations and help them really focus on changing key mistakes. Plus, tutors can educate kids about informal nuances in the language that a textbook might not mention.

I know our Spanish tutors are effective because I have every Tutor Portland tutor teach me before I hire them. With this process I’m able to see which Spanish tutors are able to break free from basic repetition exercises and have more sophisticated, productive conversation. Not only that, but Tutor Portland emphasizes principles like patience and conceptual learning, which promise to make the most out of Spanish tutoring sessions.

Self Conscious Students

Speaking Spanish regularly with a tutor can help kids ditch performance anxiety when it’s time to translate in front of the class. Being fourteen years old and having to speak to a class full of your peers is hard enough. Now try doing it in a language you barely know! One of the biggest barriers to students becoming fluent Spanish speakers is their anxiety about speaking in front of a class. 

We want to ease that anxiety. One of our most important missions at Tutor Portland is to create a deeper bond between student and tutor. Our tutors go beyond just a transactional relationship with their clients, but instead act like mentors. This emotional bond helps establish trust. This trust will be a key component for students attempting to learn Spanish, as it will help them overcome anxiety about speaking.

With a tutor, students can practice with somebody they trust. They can work out the kinks with the same person every week, without being embarrassed. With some positive reinforcement from a tutor, they’ll gain confidence. They’ll be able to head back into the class ready to run through conjugations like a pro in front of everyone.

Escaping The Endless Flashcards

Spanish tutoring creates a more engaging curriculum than boring flashcards or workbooks. While these tools help students memorize words and phrases, they don’t really allow teens to master Spanish. They’re mostly used for teaching the subject matter to large groups of students when the teacher can’t get to each person individually. Unfortunately, they don’t give students the mindset to genuinely understand the language.

Luckily, one-on-one tutoring helps with this too. Tutors can give students new and interesting ways to encounter the language, like games or unique activities. They can assign students fun writing prompts based on the student’s own interests to get kids excited about learning. Giving frequent positive reinforcement helps kids feel personally fulfilled as their Spanish language skills grow.

At Tutor Portland, adopt a growth mindset and want to help students always be improving and changing. Beyond just boring and unhelpful activities, we create a personal connection with students and use that bond to give them truly effective teaching, so they can strive towards improvement.

The Perfect Tutor is One Click Away

If you want kids to master Spanish, tutoring might be the way to go! A tutor can give your kid the practice they need to speak fluently and confidently, and allow them to break out of a boring class curriculum. With Tutor Portland, you can be certain that your child is getting the personal, effective tutoring that they deserve. Sign up for your first session, free of charge.

March 24, 2021

How Tutoring Can Help Students Master Math in the Era of Virtual Learning

If your kids are taking math online right now, I can see why you might be worried. It’s hard enough to hope for As in math classes when kids are attending school in person, but 2020 made everything more complicated. 

Now that class is online, it’s even easier for kids to find themselves falling behind. Students are more distracted and less engaged. Class discussions are virtually nonexistent. Getting individual attention from a teacher seems harder than ever. How in the world are students supposed to master complicated math concepts in this environment?

While the online format isn’t ideal, tutoring can help! For kids who are missing that one-on-one interaction, a math tutor can bring them the connection they crave, now from the comfort of their home. Classes are now almost always recorded, giving tutors a way to glimpse course material and work through it with students. Virtual pod-based tutoring can help kids supplement the social aspect they might be yearning for. So if you worry about your kid grasping the math curriculum, don’t give up just yet. Here’s how tutors can make a difference…

Engaging Students

Many parents worry that Zoom is less engaging than in person math class. There’s definitely some truth to that–it’s hard for kids to get invested in the material when they’re just another black square in a sea full of turned-off cameras. It’s tempting for kids to start playing Minecraft or scroll through Instagram during a lecture as there’s no teacher in the room. Discussions aren’t as fluid or active and it’s hard for kids to make themselves known. In this virtual environment, students are not as involved in the subject at hand.

However, getting a great tutor can help solve this problem. No longer will your kid be an anonymous member of a huge Zoom class. Tutoring gives kids a personal, individualized approach to learning, even through the internet. 

At Tutor Portland, we give one-on-one tutoring that’s totally focused on engaging the student. Our tutors build a strong rapport with students, ensuring that kids feel safe to express their frustrations and explain their own way of thinking about problems. Tutors check back with students each week and give them the positive encouragement they need to strive for growth. Even though kids have to learn through a screen, with this approach, we can keep kids excited and interested in the material.

That being said, even if students remain involved, they might not be able to be able to keep up. Math is cumulative, meaning if students miss one concept, they can easily get behind. Working through recorded lectures with a tutor might be able to change that…

Keeping Students From Falling Behind

Fast-paced math lectures are so common, it’s a wonder how kids can keep up at all. This has been a problem long before online learning. It’s a byproduct of our tendency to teach math with little to no discussion among students, let alone individual questions and feedback. Now that many lectures are virtual, students might have even less opportunity to slow down the class and inquire about a tricky concept.

Luckily, in this new online educational environment, lectures are almost always recorded. These recorded lectures are made available to students at any time. This means students can go back and rewatch whenever they need to in case they get stuck on homework. They can pause and rewind or go to a specific section when they may have overlooked a detail. Plus, if they want to review for a midterm or a final, they have every lecture laid out for them online. Instead of having one chance to get the teacher’s lecture, they can access it any time.

This is a great tool that tutors and kids can use together. Previously, if a kid struggled to comprehend an idea, tutors would have to guess how the teacher taught it to them. Now, tutors can see exactly how the concept was explained to the student, so the tutor can more deeply understand their student’s learning process. Students and tutors can go through recorded videos and take a new look at any material the student doesn’t quite understand.

Beyond having relationships with teachers and tutors, students also need to relate to each other and work together. But, how can tutoring help kids get that experience without in-person classes?

Incorporating the Social Aspect

Although socializing with others may seem extraneous to learning equations, having discussions with others about material really helps struggling math students. Studies show that students understand concepts better when they’re able to verbalize their thinking and have back-and-forth exchanges with other individuals.

However, online school makes it impossible for kids to talk about material as they walk the halls, and makes forming study groups a lot more challenging. This is especially true if your student is new to the class or doesn’t have a group of classmates to collaborate with.

Tutoring can help by not only connecting students with a great tutor, but a network of their peers as well. My brother and I had this social component in mind when we created Zoom Tutor, a website made specifically to help kids through the online educational landscape. On Zoom Tutor, not only is one-on-one tutoring offered, but pod-based tutoring with a group of students as well. 

This means students are organized into small groups that meet each week to go over material. Although they may not be able to gather in person (yet), these regular sessions give kids the ability to meet and work with an entirely new group of peers. Instead of working through problem after problem alone, they can have a community to share their frustrations and victories. This can fundamentally transform students’ attitudes towards math. Instead of stale repetition, these peer groups help make math fun and social.

Get Your Kid Tutoring Today!

Even though learning math online may seem like an impossible challenge, tutoring can help students make the most of it. When Zoom leaves kids uninvested, good tutoring can help them engage with material again. Working through recorded lectures with tutors can guide kids towards success if they find themselves falling behind. Incorporating group work into the online tutoring format can help students have meaningful discussions that allow them to get a grasp on complicated math subjects..

So if you want to help your kid make the most of learning math online, you can sign up for your first free Tutor Portland session here, free of charge. You can also check out Zoom Tutor here! If we can give students access to a meaningful learning experience despite the tribulations of the online format, we can help kids come out of this challenging time on top, ready to achieve their goals.

February 21, 2021

One-on-One English Language and Writing Tutors

English is incredibly frustrating. We often underestimate it’s difficulty, since it’s such an integral part of our lives. However, when it’s time to sit down and write an essay, we find our grammer doesn’t sound right. We struggle to make our sentences flow. The word count seems impossible to reach and our whole argument feels inconsistent.

Writing is more than just a trivial part of high school academics. It’s central to passing any university course and remains relevant in the professional world. If a student finds English challenging now, they’re going to have trouble crafting a compelling college admissions essay or expressing themselves concisely in a cover letter.  It could cost them job opportunities, promotions, research positions, and more.

At Tutor Portland, we understand the importance of helping kids master English now so they can excel later. Our tutoring focuses on helping students get the core principles of writing down, while also boosting comprehension and critical thinking skills. We offer tutoring for all kinds of writing, including college admissions essays, editing, research papers, standardized tests, descriptive essays and narrative work. Stick with us and we’ll have your kid reading and writing like a pro in no time.

Mastering Writing Basics

There are a lot of parallels between the high school English curriculum and communicating in the professional world. That’s because basics like thesis writing, crafting strong arguments, providing solid evidence and conducting thorough research are extremely relevant beyond grade school. Lawyers need powerful arguments to create contracts or defend clients. Business professionals must know how to present evidence to effectively share quarterly earnings. Scientists rely on strong research abilities to compile solid research papers. 

Working with an English tutor to hone in on these basics is remarkably helpful. Tutors read through essays to make sure a students’ arguments are in line with their thesis. They can determine if the evidence in an essay is really proving a point, or simply distracting from the main idea. An English tutor knows what relevant and impactful research looks like and help students incorporate it correctly.

At Tutor Portland, we can help teens apply these basics in any subject–not just English. For example, if your student is interested in science, but needs a little help with writing, we can tailor lessons to stronger research papers instead of just book reports. Say history is a student’s weak spot. An English tutor from Tutor Portland can help them identify strong sources and construct a powerful thesis with compelling arguments that explain the causes of the War of 1812. No matter what the task, we’ve got you covered.

Conquering Reading and Comprehension

If kids are struggling to get through assigned readings, an English tutor can help with that as well. Being able to effectively read and extract the valuable information from a document is an exceptionally useful skill. Tutors can go through class readings line by line to help kids see what data is really critical. This ability will come into play when teens are expected to read a dense credit card contract or understand a complicated economics lecture.

Not only that, but reading can be a way for young people to increase empathy, think more critically about life, and reflect on their own emotions. Reading literature allows students to step into the shoes of others and empathize with characters from different times and situations. Understanding how to digest and process non-fiction, like news stories or texts about history, politics and economics will bring students a greater understanding of the world. By guiding kids towards becoming better readers, tutors help students explore new perspectives.

When it comes to comprehension, a good English tutor steps in where teachers might be lacking. Oftentimes, teachers are just concerned with making sure kids read the assigned works, quizzing them on what happened in chapter five. A tutor can help kids really break down the material and pull out the most important information. They encourage kids to think deeper and ask them challenging questions that actually engage them in what they’re reading.

Cementing These Skills

Any good English tutor knows that the key to truly mastering language arts is the same as studying for science or math: careful repetition and putting in the hours.

I dedicated time to writing every single day when I was in college. This discipline and structure helped me improve my writing immensely. It gave me the power to ace college classes and land jobs after graduating. Now, my writing skills play an integral role in running my business and maintaining my blog. If students really want to write strong material, they’ll have to put in the reps. Tutors can create practice prompts or go through exercises with students to give them the repetition they need to succeed. 

Along with discipline, great writing requires a lot of trial and error. An A-scoring essay is not going to come easy. Students have to be willing to assess, rework and rewrite, no matter how much time and effort it takes. A tutor can guide students through this process and provide constructive feedback on every draft.

Additionally, an English tutor can apply a trained eye to students’ writing and identify how they can take it from acceptable to incredible. Even when the material in an essay is grammatically correct, that doesn’t mean it’s as strong as it could be. Ditching bland or overused words for more active, impactful language can elevate a piece of writing immensely. Changing sentence structure can make an essay much more digestible and persuasive. Tutors allow students to accelerate their writing skills beyond what they thought possible.

English Tutoring at Tutor Portland

At Tutor Portland, we know that tutoring isn’t one-size-fits-all, especially not for a subject as nuanced as English. We’ve got tutors from a wide range of backgrounds, ready to meet the needs of each individual student.  

Our English tutors can help your student with focused, intentional practice in the language arts. As college students and professional writers, they know how to create written work that’s not only grammatically correct, but compelling. They’ll equip your student to impress professors, amaze college admissions officers and achieve their wildest dreams.

If you’re ready to unlock your full potential, sign up for a free session today.

January 20, 2021

9 Necessary Study Habits for Academic Excellence

Studying. Few of us like to do it, but it’s totally necessary for nailing exams and earning awesome grades. If you think you’re a bad test-taker, you might be super smart, but lack some of the best strategies for effective studying. Here are some tips for excelling at studying and doing everything you need to ace your next test.

1. Plan a Study Schedule

You might think you should focus on the hardest subjects first, but that can be a counterproductive study habit. Instead, create a plan that designates extra time to focus on more challenging subjects but still includes time to review everything that’s going to be on the test. That way you’ll be well versed in all the topics you need to know and won’t be thrown off by a test question that references a subject you forgot to study. For example, if you have three hours to study for a test that covers six chapters of your textbook, and you really struggled with chapter three, create a plan like this:

Review Chapter 1 & 2: 30 minutes
Review Chapter 3: 50 minutes
Chapter 4-6: 55 minutes
Re-review Chapter 3: 45 minutes

This schedule prioritizes chapter 3 but still ensures that you review everything else at least once.  So instead of assuming that you’ll be able to recall information, you’ll go into the test 100% sure that you’re prepared for anything that could be on it. 

2. Create Essay Outlines

When you sit down to write a big essay for an end of semester project, it’s common to experience writer’s block. The weight of it’s importance can stir up so much anxiety that you feel totally out of ideas. 

Rather than starting off your writing session with no direction or plan, prepare an outline beforehand. This is a complete breakdown of everything you want to include in your introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. In the outline, you’ll want to include everything from clever hooks, transitional phrases, and quotations from outside sources. Outlining helps you determine the order of information you’re presenting and what ideas you want to focus on the most. That way when you sit down to write, all you have to do is transcribe everything into an essay format. If you need help getting started, use Scribbr to help you craft the perfect essay outline. 

3. Review Your Notes

This might sound obvious, but reviewing your notes before starting any assignment, even homework, is imperative. Doing a quick re-read not only assures you understand every concept before diving in, it can also prevent you from making critical mistakes, which is especially important for writing assignments. Make sure to read a writing prompt in its entirety so you know exactly how many paragraphs you have to write, what topics you need to discuss, and the format it needs to be written in. Nothing is worse than spending two hours on a 1,200-word essay only to realize it only needed to be 800.  

4. Test Yourself!

You don’t have to wait for the big exam to get into test mode. Create weekly quizzes for yourself so you can better absorb what you’ve been learning. Focus on identifying the main topics your teacher highlights, especially points that have been brought up multiple times, because they will be on the test. 

To find material for your practice test, use questions from quizzes you’ve already taken as well as review sections located in textbook chapters. You can also use online platforms like Complete Test Preparation to find practice tests for math, science, reading comprehension, and more. 

5. Compare with Friends

We’ve all had that one classmate who always seems to have the right answer and aces every test without even trying. Rather than seeing them as your biggest competition, use them as your greatest resource. Gather a group of your most prodigious classmates to do a weekly review of the lessons that’ll be on the test. Studying together helps you discover where you can improve, while you share your strengths to help others improve. This way, you’ll all become better students together!

6. List Your Distractions

Do you ever get distracted when you need to study? Not only by Netflix and phone notifications, but by chores too? Chores that your parents are harping about because they needed to get done yesterday? When other important tasks are competing with your studying duties, don’t ignore them. Instead, write them down and choose a time when you’ll be available to complete them. Set a timer that requires you to put in one hour of intense studying. When it goes off, allow yourself 10-20 minutes to get these chores done. 

Let’s be honest—many distractions, like texting your significant other, are far less imperative than chores. Many of us are tempted to check Instagram likes on our latest post or scroll through news stories on Twitter, when we should be focusing on studying for a final. This can lead us to take constant mini-breaks that grow into all-day distractions. Putting off our work all day can lead to feelings of guilt or stress as we run over schedule and fall behind on studies.

The solution is to not deprive ourselves of study breaks. Instead, we can reward ourselves for an hour’s worth of intense studying with 10 minutes of free time. This way, we give our minds a break and can indulge in our favorite pastimes, guilt-free. 

7. Study Offline

While we highly recommend using online platforms for study tips, time away from the computer allows you to purely focus on studying and not get distracted by the internet. Find a screen-free environment to study in, like the kitchen table, a comfy chair, or outdoors. This’ll give you a nice change of scenery and your eyes a break from the screen. 

There’s also plenty of online tools you can use without internet access like Desmos, which is a website that provides a variety of calculators and graphing tools. Use these tools while your computer is in offline mode. That way you’ll have access to all the helpful resources Desmos offers without being distracted by email or social media alerts.  

8. Leave Your Friends on Read

With instant messaging, friends are just a text away. But are group chats more important than grades? If you struggle to avoid text messages and Snapchats when you’re supposed to be studying, hold your friends accountable. Let them know that you have a big test to study for and won’t be reachable for the next few hours. If they know how important this test is, they won’t create unnecessary distractions to prevent you from succeeding. If they’re still hitting you up during studying sessions, put your phone on “Do not Disturb” and update your messaging settings so only emergency contacts can reach you while your studies are in session.

9. Ask Your Teacher

It’s good practice for students to regularly ask questions during class. It not only helps you better understand a subject but can provide clarity to other students who have the same questions. However, asking too lengthy of questions can monopolize your teacher’s ability to help other students, and can make you look inconsiderate of those who want to move on to the next lesson. Instead of disrupting other students’ time, pull your teacher aside after class and ask when they’ll have free time to help you with tougher subjects. 

Oftentimes teachers’ have office hours where you can get one-on-one help. Going to office hours demonstrates your intentions to improve your schoolwork and shows that you don’t want to take away from their in-class time. Plus it puts you on their good side—they might even be more willing to boost you to an A- when your end of semester grade is 89.8%.

…And if that Doesn’t Help

Every good teacher should be willing to provide extra help to students that need it. However, you won’t always have the privilege of teachers who are willing to help us during their off-time. If that’s the case, don’t be afraid to seek tutoring in subjects that aren’t your strong suit. Here at Tutor Portland, we provide in-home and online tutoring sessions with first-class tutors throughout the Portland area. Each of our hand-selected tutors will provide you with the specialized attention you need to raise your grades, pass your tests, and get accepted to your dream school. Start your free online introductory session today!

December 31, 2020

The Six Best Portland Tutoring Companies (And Finding the Right One)

When your kid’s classroom is a black square on a Zoom screen, it’s no wonder they struggle to stay engaged. Students lose the personal experience they once had during in-person classes while learning from home creates plenty of new distractions. With the future of education taking a hard turn, the need for quality one-on-one tutoring is greater than ever!

Unfortunately, finding the right tutor can be pretty difficult…there are hundreds of names and websites to scavenge through! It can take forever to find tutoring that’s affordable, accessible, and right for your student. Who in the world has all that time?

Who are the Best Tutors in Portland, Oregon?

To make things a little easier for you and your family, we’ve gathered a list of the best tutoring companies in the Portland area, complete with information about what makes each one unique! This list includes companies that offer in person tutoring or online sessions, or both, so no matter what your preference, we’ve got you covered. Don’t spend hours scrolling through Google; we did the work for you! One quick read and you’ll be ready to get your kid learning in no time.

North Avenue Education

Looking for a personalized, holistic approach to tutoring? North Avenue Education is ready to provide incredibly through and varied tutoring services to your family. Not only do they offer academic tutoring in math and writing, they also provide specific programs for those preparing to take SATs or ACTs. 

If someone in your family is applying to college, North Avenue Education can offer them guidance on undergraduate and graduate applications. They also have study skills coaching, which is simply aimed at helping kids develop the right habits to stay focused and organized.

One unique offering from North Avenue is their “learning pods”, groups of students who study together in person (with the appropriate safety precautions, of course), or virtually. This small group approach is aimed at creating personal connections between students during a time when we all feel farther apart than ever.

Tutor Doctor

In this time of uncertainty, you’re probably pretty eager to be certain about something…like whether or not the tutoring service you choose will REALLY help your kid out. Luckily, Tutor Doctor reports a 95% satisfaction rate from their clients. And if you’re not happy with your experience, there’s also a 60 day money back guarantee!

Tutor Doctor offers tutoring on a large variety of subjects, including Spanish, German, Chinese, and English for non-native English speakers. They also emphasize the development of what they call “X skills” for every student. These are skills like planning and self-evaluation that help students achieve not only their short term academic goals but also their lifelong dreams. In doing so, Tutor Doctor encourages kids to become more well rounded individuals with high standards for their own achievements.

If you’re looking for something simple and affordable, Tutor Doctor is definitely a company to consider. You can schedule a free consultation online any time! This consultation allows Tutor Ductor to pair your student with a tutor and a learning plan that’s right for them. Not only that, but you can book sessions quickly and easily online as well, making Tutor Doctor one convenience in this rapidly changing world we live in!

Northwest Reading Clinic

It can be hard to find the right tutoring for kids who struggle with basic reading, writing and comprehension. Every child is so different, and it’s not easy to create a program that’s tailored to their individual needs. That’s why the Northwest Reading Clinic provides kids with an exceptionally thorough assessment and consultation to discover where exactly they’re having trouble.

The center tests for things like sound/symbol association, receptive and expressive vocabulary, and ability to follow oral directions. Then they pinpoint what specific areas your kid is struggling with, to create an effective approach that helps mend gaps in their reading/comprehension skills. Northwest is here to help everyone, whether your kid has some minor difficulties concentrating on text or shows signs of severe dyslexia.

Northwest Reading Clinic offers generous amounts of tutoring, tending to work with students on a daily basis. It’s important to note that they’re not just limited to the language arts, they also offer services for students who struggle with fundamental math computations or have difficulty with logical and deductive reasoning. They’re open right now for entirely virtual sessions! If your kid needs help grasping the basics, this is the center for you.

Huntington Tutoring Center

When a student doesn’t believe in themself, their academic achievement isn’t the only thing that suffers. Everything from their social capability to their organizational abilities is affected. That’s why Huntington Tutoring Center focuses on creating confident kids. At Huntington, tutoring is about more than just words and numbers–it’s about encouraging kids to believe in themselves and their futures.

Boasting an impressive 40 years working with students and families, Huntington offers tutoring in math, reading, writing, science and more. They also offer summer programs, homework help, and special programs for kids who are diagnosed with ADHD. Not only that, but they work with schools to make sure your student is truly understanding the curriculum they are being graded on.

If you’re concerned or curious about your child’s progress and want consistent updates, Huntington might be a good option for you. They offer regular conferences with parents throughout the student’s tutoring journey to keep you clued in to your kid’s progress. Sound like something you’re interested in? You can call them anytime, or even have them call you! Tutoring plans vary from 2-10 weeks if tutoring, or a total of 30-90 hours.

Stumptown Test Prep

If you’re looking for something much more geared toward standardized test-taking, check out Stumptown Test Prep. Even if your student doesn’t have an SAT or GRE on the horizon, it’s always good to get an early start. This is especially true if your kid has a little too much time on their hands since they’ve been stuck at home.

Stumptown narrows successful test-taking down to three essential areas of learning: core knowledge, test strategies and motivation/anxiety. By looking at these three components as a unit, Stumptown helps students master their psyche instead of just the test material. They boil down most test-taking issues to gaps in knowledge, poor time management skills, and problems with the student’s mindset. Their approach includes a free consultation for your child in which Stumptown staff can get to the bottom of your child’s test taking issues.

Weekly sessions are the norm for Stumptown but their plans are very flexible, so if you’re interested, get in contact with their small staff to work out a schedule that looks best for your family. They also tutor students from middle school to college and beyond, so they’re ready to step in at any point in your child’s educational journey.

Tutor Portland

Students are living under the pressure of expectations from parents, teachers, counselors…so why would they want a tutor who just tells them what to do? Instead of appointing someone to simply instruct your student, Tutor Portland aims to pair your child with a mentor (we were originally called Mentor Portland!) Tutor Portland aims to establish trust and respect between tutor and student, and provide a positive, kind environment.

The folks at Tutor Portland think there are some serious issues with the way math is taught in schools and adopt a more effective alternative. While most school curriculums emphasize long lectures and monotonous practice, Tutor Portland focuses on teaching math conceptually, often having students verbalize their own mathematical thinking to ensure retention. Tutor Portland knows that every student is different, and that tutors might have to describe things a few different ways before kids understand.

Tutor Portland places the most focus on math and science, but they also offer writing and Spanish tutoring as well. In addition they have a unique program for those applying to medical school, and SAT/ACT prep!

Find a Tutor Near You

While school looks a little different this year, it doesn’t mean that personal, individualized learning isn’t possible. By checking out these local tutoring centers, you can give your kid the chance to beat the stay-at-home blues and get excited about their education again.

December 15, 2020

The Ultimate Guide to Math Placement Tests

So your child has completed their college apps and they’ve started to narrow down their higher education choices. Whether they want to attend a junior college, attend school part-time, or are taking the plunge into a four-year university, their big decision will help shape their future. You’ll want to be sure that they’re as prepared as they can be.

Before they even step foot in a classroom, their skills will need to be tested. Math placement tests are a required examination prior to enrolling in specific classes. If they’re worried about what lies ahead for them when it comes to math placement tests and scheduling math classes, there’s no need to worry.

We have the ultimate guide right here for parents and students like you to better understand what math placement tests are all about.

What is a Math Placement Test?

A math placement test is designed to measure a student’s math skills and gauge the most appropriate math classes they should take for the upcoming semester. Before starting college or university, students must complete a math placement test at home. This happens after a student has been admitted to a school and is a normal part of the enrollment process. 

There is no passing or failing a math placement test. The point of these exams is to see how competent the student is in the subject. They are more of an assessment of personal skills rather than an analysis of mastery. A math placement test is not a measure of intelligence, but a measurement of personal experience and how well a student demonstrates that experience. 

After the test, the school will tailor a choice of math class to the student’s best strengths. If a student is a top scorer, they’ll be rightly placed in advanced classes that will properly challenge them. If they score lower on the math placement test, then they will be placed in less intense math courses.

What to Expect on a Math Placement Test

Although all schools require students to take a math placement test, there is no universal standard they adhere to. Each university or college will create their own tests that best measure math skills according to their own set of standards. 

However, there will be some similarities across the board. Questions will be pulled from a wide variety of math topics such as algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and some precalculus and calculus, but the questions will not dive deeply into each subject. The range of questions will be wide, not deep.

The wide-range of questions about basic concepts is followed by longer word problems. These word problems focus on the application of concepts. Students will apply the previously mentioned concepts to help solve longer story problems. Further, the test will ask students to provide written analysis to test if they can fully understand and demonstrate mathematical concepts. 

These tests usually do not have a time limit and are mostly multiple choice. The point of the exam is to measure skill, not speed. They’re usually administered online too, so there is no need to travel to a testing location. The tests are often completed from the comfort of a student’s own home. 

What’s The Deal with High Placement Scores?

Preparing for math placement tests can save students and parents time and money down the road. If your university requires payment for classes by the unit, students can save money by testing out of classes that would otherwise be required for their degree. 

By scoring well, students can bypass entry-level courses and qualify for more challenging (and more interesting!) math classes. By scoring poorly, the school may place students in lower intensity remedial courses and take time away from more enriching classes.

If a student plans to enter a field that is less math-intensive, they can bypass math classes altogether if they score high enough. By testing out of basic math classes, they free their schedule to take other classes that are more relevant to their field of study. This will save time and money as students will skip a few steps on their way to complete their degree.

How to Prepare for a Math Placement Test

Before taking a placement test, I encourage students to brush up on basic mathematical concepts. A math placement test will have questions about basic arithmetic such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, proportions, averages, decimals, and integers. It sounds like a lot, but it’s nothing students haven’t mastered before!

Here are our tips to maximize your studying habits!

However, it’s important not to put too much weight on the outcome of the test. There is a downside of over-preparing. If students prepare for the test in anticipation to score “well” or “ace” the exam, then they could be setting themselves up for a difficult situation. By studying for hours to ace the exam, students may earn placement in an advanced level math course they are not ready for. They might become overwhelmed by the higher level material because of their inflated placement score.

Remember, there is no passing or failing these placement tests, so over-preparing won’t always pay off. Ending up in a less intense math course might be the perfect situation for a student who isn’t as mathematically gifted as their peers.

Conversely, if a student enters the math placement test completely unprepared, then they could be placed in a math course that is far below their skill set. These students might get stuck paying for a class that is repetitive, boring, and ultimately a waste of their time because they did not demonstrate higher level math skills on the placement test.

Final Thoughts on Math Placement Tests 

If a higher education institution accepts you or your child into their program and requires you to take math placement tests, look into hiring a tutor. When you hire a tutor to work one-on-one, you can focus on reviewing the areas that are the best use of your time. Meeting with a tutor to hone math skills could make a positive difference for your future in higher education.

Experts from Tutor Portland or Zoom Tutor can assist in tailoring a plan for you or your child. Having a tutor that understands how the math placement test works will make a huge difference in your educational experience. By fortifying math experience, you will be ready to take a math placement test and best serve your educational career.

April 2, 2020

How Tutoring Can Benefit Students

The Benefits of Tutoring

 

Portland Tutor

The benefits of tutoring vary from student to student, but there is no doubt that any student, of any skill level, can benefit from tutoring. Tutoring can assist students that are struggling to keep up with subject matter or challenge those who need an extra push. Tutors can challenge students without evoking feelings of judgment, or the emotional baggage students often feel when working with parents or teachers on school work. We see this a lot. Students time and time again prefer to work with a tutor rather than with their parents or teacher. And this makes sense! A relationship with a tutor is more down-to-earth and relaxed. Students feel comfortable around tutors. They know that they can ask questions without being judged. 

Below we discuss how tutoring benefits students and why you should consider enrolling your child, or self, in a tutoring program.

Portland Tutoring

Students that are enrolled in private tutoring benefit from an individualized learning experience. They can learn difficult subjects like math and science better when they verbalize their own mathematical/scientific thinking in a tutoring session. This is critical. Many students are never given the chance in large classrooms to hear themselves speak and think about mathematics. During our tutoring sessions we employ an “active learning” strategy. There is a lot of evidence showing that active learning strategies help students learn and improve their retention of subject matter. The whole idea of active learning is that students are engaged in the process. They are asked to think about what they are doing. This is a form of meta-cognition. Meta-cognition is critical to learning. It provides the bridge between the worksheet or the problems that the students are doing—and the actual learning itself. Learning does not just happen. It doesn’t simply occur when students do homework. Learning functions when the learning environment has been intentionally designed based on scientific evidence. 

There is a wide body of evidence that shows that when students solve difficult problems with the support of a tutor, instructor, or peers, they are better able to retain information and achieve their desired learning goals.

 

Portland Oregon Tutor

Tutors help students build academic skills and assist them in areas they struggle in whilst preparing them with improved work and study skills. The extra layer of preparedness and confidence students gain through tutoring will increase their overall academic achievement. This confidence radiates out to every aspect of a student’s life. It affects how they show up to the classroom. It improves their ability to make connections between complex ideas. It gives them a solid foundation and confidence upon which other successes are built.

 

Portland OR Tutor

The accountability a tutor provides encourages students to stay on track with their coursework and follow through with tasks. When a student is prepared for their subject matter, and don’t feel overwhelmed, they are more inclined to finish homework and other school-related tasks. This helps in so many ways. Firstly, it is always better to be prepared! This alone really helps students. They start turning in assignments on time. They understand when HW is due and what is expected of them. 

 

Math TutorCustomized tutoring programs help ensure your child is learning effectively in a way that works for them. This is good for students who need an extra challenge, as well as students that need a slower pace and more individualized teaching. Simply put: not every student learns at the same pace. This is why lecture-based-learning often fails students and leaves many behind. The course must continue. And the teacher has to “sacrifice” some students for the benefit of others. 

 

Portland TutorThrough tutoring, students can learn work and study habits they might miss out on through standardized public schooling alone. The social, behavioral, and independence skills students learn through tutoring will benefit them inside and outside of school. These skills really apply to every area of life. Tutoring helps students learn how to set goals. It teaches them the importance of sitting down with a subject and just sticking with it. Tutoring also helps students learn that it is okay to ask for help and seek assistance from others.

 

TutorThrough tutoring, students learn how to recognize and control their learning pace and take initiative when doing their coursework. When a student feels like they are able to learn better thanks to the tools tutoring prepares them with, they are less likely to feel “left-behind” or too nervous to seek help when needed. Tutoring puts the learner in the driver’s seat. They are instantly in-charge of their own learning. Rather than being passive observers—like they are during class—students are transported to a block of time where they have to direct their own learning. With help, of course! Often it is the student who directs the tutor. The student says, “this is where I need help. This is what I’m struggling with.” Those are invaluable skills! In this way, tutoring helps students become better at recognizing their own weaknesses and strengths. This is helpful when attempting to learn or improve at any skill. 

 

Oregon TutorTutoring can help school become fun for students. Encouragement and praise surrounding school can help with feelings of frustration toward school. Additionally, the confidence students gain via tutoring makes them feel more prepared going into school and other academic settings.

 

Portland Tutoring Services When a student feels more confident in their ability to succeed in school, and other academic settings, their overall confidence will increase. The tools learned in personalized tutoring boosts student’s self-esteem and confidence as they become more successful students.

 

PDX TutorTutoring helps identify and manage any learning difficulties students may face resulting in an improved attitude towards school and learning. The one-on-one teaching that tutoring provides can help identify any issues that may get looked over in a large classroom setting. 

 

Science TutorThe accountability that tutoring provides can go a long way in student’s overall dedication, and persistence in completing schoolwork and other school-related tasks. Through tutoring, students will eventually realize their personal growth and begin to take ownership of their own studies and other responsibilities.

 

Want more resources? Check out our free resource on how to create an effective home learning program for your child!

REFERENCES 

Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

 

Article Updated April 2020

March 29, 2020

The Benefits of Active Tutoring

I always struggled trying to learn math and science. It wasn’t natural for me. Some students “got it.” They understood math. But I never did. I “got by.” Friends helped me with assignments, or I copied off my neighbors. I never really took the time to learn and invest in my mathematics abilities. This was because I had a fixed mindset when it came to math. I thought—well I always do poorly at math—I must be bad at math. In a weird, sort-of-rational way, I believed that I was permanently bad at math. I didn’t have any successes to prove otherwise!  

Many other students and families feel this same way. These families are frustrated because they know their student is bright and smart. She is just having a hard time learning math. I believe this is more about the way that math and science are currently being taught in schools than it is about the learner. Math is being taught as a lecture. Teachers have a strict agenda of what they want to teach. They give their lecture, pass out a worksheet, and then expect the students to learn the ideas. This is outdated and simply doesn’t work.

This style of teaching doesn’t hold its ground when compared to the new research being published on math and science education. The research today shows that students learn math and science when they hear themselves verbalize their own mathematical and scientific thinking. This is a huge finding. Up until now, teachers have been relying mainly on lecture-based teaching. They lecture during class, maybe assign some worksheets to keep the students busy, and they send them home with work to complete.

I grew up taking math courses centered around lecture. They were all about one person presenting the ideas. The problem with lecture-based mathematics and STEM courses is that students often think they understand what is going on, but in reality they are missing a few small distinctions on how to complete the problem or activity. These small misunderstandings compound on each other until eventually the student is so far behind that they need massive assistance in order to catch up. But these small misunderstandings don’t have to compound! We can stop them in their tracks! 

If students were allowed the opportunity to simply discuss the concepts every day, then they would learn them much quicker. This is because when we discuss ideas we are better able to see the small holes in our own understanding. This allows learners to ask questions and fill in the gaps. Specifically, in active learning class rooms students spend the majority of the class discussing concepts, ideas, and working together on practice problems. This is the ideal way to learn math and science. But these courses require professors who invest a significant amount of time and energy into planning their courses and their course structure. 

In college, I was fortunate enough to study under such a teacher. She not only knew mathematics, but also had a Ph.D. in mathematics education. She knew how to teach math. The entire course was centered around small groups. This is where everything started. We sat at a small table of 3-4 people and we discussed ideas *before* she taught us what the core concepts were. Most of the time we were able to figure things out in our small group!

Learning like this was difficult. It was challenging to learn this way because we weren’t simply spoon-fed the answer. We had to find it ourselves. We had to discover it. I took algebra 1/2, and algebra 3/4 this way. I also took pre-calculus and even two discovery-based calc I and calc II courses.

In my calculus classes, we spent weeks at our table discussing the concept of “rate-of-change.” We looked at graphs and got a good feel for what rate of change was. We learned that when you look at a graph, you can determine at what rate it is changing at any certain moment. Imagine zooming in on one small square of a graph. How fast is the line changing in that moment? That is what a derivative is. We learned that before ever hearing the word “derivative.” By the time she wrote the equation for a derivative on the board, we had already learned what it was. It was as if we built the meaning with our own hands. We felt as if we owned that word. We knew it inside and out. 

Most people walk away from calculus course not learning anything. I’ve asked many people what they learned. (Try asking people yourself)! People generally say that calculus was useless and that they didn’t learn anything. “I can’t remember anything from that class,” they say. And that is a total shame! Because the concepts of calculus are so incredible. These concepts are fundamental to our lives. I think about rate of change all the time. You can apply it to the stock market, to human psychology, to climate change. What I find really fascinating, is that you can even apply rate of change concepts to your own learning. Think about it: every course moves at a certain rate. And each chapter moves at a different rate. It is also important to be able to think about your own rate of learning in each moment. How fast are you improving? Is your rate of change fast enough to learn all the material? If you aren’t learning at a fast enough rate, then you simply won’t do well in the course. If you realize you aren’t currently learning things at a fast enough rate, then you have to come up with a new plan or strategy. It’s all about having the right approach and mindset when it comes to learning. 

One method we use with our clients—to increase their rate of learning—is to use active tutoring strategies. This means that we engage with out students. No longer are these students simply passively learning new knowledge. We believe that passive education is demoralizing. It reduces students’ confidence. It erodes their belief in themselves and their own ability to learn. Because essentially the message of lecture based STEM education is that: we are the intelligent people with all of the answers, and all you can do is sit down in front of us and diligently take notes and learn. Active learning flips this around and empowers students.  

Why is active learning so powerful?

Active learning is inherently engaging. It gets students involved in the process of their own education. They cease to be passive observers of knowledge and become actively engaged in their own learning. This is empowering. It teaches them that they have control over what and how they learn. Active learning teaches kids to have a GROWTH MINDSET. It helps to shatter the fixed mindset which is inherently limiting. The whole idea of active learning is built around the growth mindset–that if you apply yourself, you can grow, you can improve, you can become better. And you do this by rolling up your sleeves and getting to work…. NOT sitting back and watching. 

Importantly, active learning has been shown to do two main things: 1) it increases students’ overall academic achievement and 2) it improves students’ attitude towards math and science. It does all of this while also reducing misunderstandings about science and improving students’ understanding of big ideas and concepts.

Active learning works so well because it shifts learning from a one-size-fits-all approach to one that is inherently personalized and tailored to each student.

At Tutor Portland, we use an active approach to tutoring. Instead of simply giving answers or showing students how to solve problems, we ask them questions. We engage our students in critical thinking and in-depth discussions about concepts and topics. We ask questions and try to get students to connect the ideas they are currently learning to ones they learned last term or last chapter.

This is often the first time they have *ever* thought critically about the ideas they are learning in school. It’s a dramatic difference once students become engaged with the material. It changes from something abstract to something up-close and personal.

We follow a few “active tutoring” rules very closely:

  • The tutor is simply a guide, a facilitator — the tutor is not a teacher.
  • We give students time to think.
  • We create a comfortable and relaxed learning environment.
  • We ask open-ended questions.
  • Curiosity is a quality which we embody, and which we attempt to bring forth within our students.
  • Teach ethical behavior and thinking.
  • Focus the session on the student. Not on the tutor or the parent or anyone else.

These are guidelines which help us create a positive and active tutoring environment.

Updated March 2020.