I have a college student who I've been tutoring over the past two semesters. He's a hard worker and quite bright. Unfortunately, I do not feel like I am having much success in helping him learn mathematics.
I work with him on a weekly basis, usually somewhere between 2 and 4 hours. He is currently taking college algebra, and took a remedial algebra course last semester.
There are two issues I notice while he is working:
1.) Whatever I teach him, he can't seem to retain on a long-term basis. For instance, last semester I'd taught him about factoring and how it relates to distribution, and he had gotten the hang of doing both. This semester, he seems to have almost completely forgotten all of it. He has forgotten his exponent rules, rules for working with fractions, and so on as well. I feel like he does not really understand what a fraction is either, as he cannot easily see the relationship between fractions and decimals, or percentages, or the relationship between fractions and division. So fractions are a point where we trip up. I've tried many strategies that will help him, including going over the forgotten material, and making cheat sheets to help him look things up easily when he's forgotten, but even then it's like he's forgotten the procedure for working with those aforementioned subjects. Needless to say, he's struggling with his college algebra course because it picks up assuming you know all of those things.
2.) He seems to be a bit of a perfectionist. He will spend hours on a single problem that he does not understand how to solve. I've suggested that he try a timer, and spend no more than maybe 15-20 minutes on a problem (these are problems I think are probably meant to be done in closer to 5 minutes -- his tests are 30 questions over two hours), but that suggestion does not seem to have helped.
To be clear, I think this student is bright. When I build things up for him from the ground up, he follows the argument. I ask questions while I make the argument to ensure that he understands the logic between one step and the next, and to the best of my ability he does. But when it comes time to do the work, I feel like either he did not follow the argument or simply cannot remember it. This student works hard, and I feel like it is more my fault that he is not processing this material than his, but I cannot figure out which approach I should take.
Has anyone had any experiences with a student like this? A motivated, hard-working student that just is not getting it. If there are any suggestions, they would be greatly appreciated.
TL;DR I have a hard-working, motivated student who just seems like he is not understanding the material from his math courses, and I need help figuring out strategies on how to move forward with him.