When learning a new topic, students need to learn about a new concept and the basis of how such a concept comes about. Understanding how the concept comes about is important, as it gives you clarity based on the concept and how it is derived.
In science tuition classes, the first principles approach is how teachers would conduct the class and expound the importance of the underlying principles.
However, there are occasions where such first principles thinking would not be able to be done, as certain concepts involving advanced mathematics or science concepts are difficult to explain to the younger students. For example, in chemistry tuition at secondary level, we cannot be explaining about the orbital concept by using wave theory to explain how electrons are configured in an atom. Similarly, a physics teacher cannot be using Newton’s law of gravitation to explain how the formula of gravitational potential energy is derived for a physics tuition class. Likewise, in a biology tuition, the teacher cannot be using the concept of electron transfer and exergonic or endergonic reaction to teach the difference between photosynthesis and respiration, or active transport and diffusion or osmosis. A Mathematics teacher cannot be using integration in calculus when teaching the formulae for area or volume of three-dimensional objects during the maths tuition class.
An experienced secondary tuition teacher would be able to simplify complicated principles and explain them in bite-sized, easily understood points. The key to mastering the new knowledge is to understand the concept or formula and the underlying assumptions on when the latter can be applied.
Next, learners would now have to apply these concepts to solve problems. The temptation just to read the solution is high. When you initially learn how to apply, constant reference to the solution is required, as all of us learn most effectively by imitating and copying. But, as you mature in your knowledge application, you should wane yourself from referring to the solution completely.
This is a critical step in solidifying your understanding of the topic. Practice exposes you to the bolts and nuts required in solving the question. In short, no hard work, no gain. In the tuition centre, students are given a curated list of questions that cover most of the different types of examination questions that are commonly asked. And the more you practise, the more proficient you are in your knowledge application and the more you will understand the demands of the assessment for this topic.
Most would skip this step and head straight to the next step.
If you do skip or rush through the earlier step, and go straight to self-assessment, you would find yourself peeking or taking a glance at the answers when working on the questions. That approach would give you the false impression that you have mastered the knowledge for that topic.
In the tuition centre, teachers will give O level tuition students a range of examination styled questions to ascertain if they have mastered the topic.