Senator Spotlight January 2022

Barbara Kinach

NAME Barbara Kinach

What unit do you represent?  

Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College

How many years have you served in the Senate?

I have done two tours of duty in the senate.

The first ran from 2015-2018.

Currently I am serving the first year of a three-year term (2020-2023). 

How many years have you been employed at ASU?   

14 years.I arrived in Arizona to start my new position at ASU in the Fall of 2008, just at the start of the recession.

What other institutions have you taught at before coming to ASU? 

Lesley University, Vanderbilt University, University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC)

Additionally, I began my teaching career in Hawaii Public Schools as a 7th grade mathematics teacher after which I moved to Boston where I taught 7th grade and high school mathematics for seven years before transitioning to college-level mathematics and mathematics education teaching at Lesley University, Vanderbilt University, and University of Maryland Baltimore County.

What is your research and/or creative activities focus?  

The design research, conducted in the mathematics methods courses I teach, centers on the creation, design, development, and refinement of tasks aimed at developing pre-service teachers’ mathematical knowledge for teaching and inquiry teaching practices. My longstanding interest in transforming traditional “I do, you do, we do” mathematics teaching practices motivates my work as is evident from my studies of instructional explanations, algebraic thinking, inquiry-based teaching methods, and the role of visual representations and manipulatives in deepening prospective teachers’ epistemological beliefs and desire to teach mathematics conceptually in meaningful ways.

Why did you decide to get involved with the Senate?

Given my long experience in higher education curriculum and teacher preparation reform at the institutions where I have taught and served in various capacities as Assistant Dean for Curriculum, Director of the Undergraduate Teacher Education Program, and Liberal Studies Program Director, I was particularly interested in the curricular function of the Senate. I enjoy learning about, and having opportunity to influence, program and course development across the university. The Senate seems also to be one of the first places where faculty hear about statewide curricular initiatives - an exemplar case being the current statewide initiative by the Arizona Board of Regents to re-envision General Studies at Arizona’s three universities. It was in the Senate this Fall that I first learned of the new cross-curricular vision for General Education whereby students will learn to apply 21st century skills to solve complex problems by multiple exposure to knowledge in different contexts. Even if not directly involved in the General Studies initiative, it is exciting to know that my institution is forging ahead with this ambitious vision.

Describe what you have learned (or hope to learn) during your time in the Senate?

Serving on the Senate at any time, but especially at this time of the CoVid Pandemic, is an opportunity to learn and share the latest policy updates on masks and vaccination and remote-teaching experiences of the ASU Community with colleagues in your Unit. We have opportunity to share basic information such as “graduation will be in person this year” or “past pandemic-era graduates may attend this year’s in-person ceremony” along with requests for faculty volunteers to contribute to long-term planning efforts to identify ways to support the Multicultural Center, promote civil discourse on campus, and contribute to upcoming campus workshops on civil discourse.  During my time in the Senate this year, I have learned about origins of the concept of Academic Freedom and its application at ASU. Frequent visits by President Crow to the Senate keep us abreast of the University’s negotiations with ABOR and the State Legislature regarding, among other things, mask policy, state funding for the university, and state financial support for Arizona State University students.  Whatever is current we hear about and bring back to our respective faculties. At every meeting, Senators also hear from University Provost Gonzalez. There is always time to ask questions and bring issues from your Unit to the floor of the Senate for discussion. Being in the Senate, you get a deep look into behind-the-scenes workings at ASU both for yourself and for the colleagues in your Unit.

What committees have you participated in, or would like to participate in and what were you able to (or hope to) accomplish? 

During my first of these upcoming three years in the Senate, I have focused on being a Senator.  The team of Senators from MLFTC have also worked at creating a system for reporting out Senate minutes to our Teachers College colleagues. Given my research and teaching interests, I would enjoy opportunities to contribute to curriculum-related committees such as the General Studies Committee and the Curriculum and Academic Programs Committee as well as the Student-Faculty Policy Committee.

What would you say to your peers who might be considering accepting a nomination or nominating himself or herself for a position in the University Senate?

 I would say, “Accept the opportunity!”  The Senate is a great way to learn the inside workings and philosophy of a large research university. It’s a great way to contribute to the university, influence policy through your questions, and meet colleagues from across university colleges, schools, and departments. Moreover, since you will also be attending the Senate meetings of your home campus, you will be forming relationships and influencing policy close to your Unit “home.”


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