A: “My most rewarding experience was helping an organic chemistry student with her first synthesis. I helped her understand how to work backwards from the problem, asking her where she thought bonds were cleaved. I wrote the problem on the board and instead of going through the motions myself, I had her use the chalk and think about it on her own. With a bit of guidance, she was able to complete it. The next couple syntheses she tried on her own and each time she got farther and more confident. It felt good for me to see her improvement and I could tell she was becoming less stressed. She left hours and did what was left on her own. I think the material was starting to click.”
Q: What is a technique you use during your hours that has been effective and helpful in helping students learn in Chemistry?
A: “The most helpful technique (especially for chemistry teaching fellows) is getting groups of people to work together on the same problem. Chemistry fellows tend to get very busy on nights before problem sets are due, so the most effective strategy is to pair people up so they can help each other. Sometimes having one student try and teach the material to another (instead of doing it myself) ensures that the student really knows the material. I always say you really know your stuff if you can teach it to someone else.”
Alexa is a TF in the Chemistry department and won a Goldwater Honorable Mention in March 2012 for her work in chemistry and research.