Kent State Mathematics Professor’s Passion for Teaching Leads to a Distinguished Teaching Award
Cynthia Barb’s teaching style uses mathematics not just to solve classroom problems, but to motivate students to use the concepts creatively and to solve problems in everyday life. And it shows.
Barb, a Kent State University mathematics professor, is one of the recipients of the 2012 Distinguished Teaching Awards (DTA). This award is presented to teachers who demonstrate the following teaching skills:
- Comprehensive knowledge of his or her field,
- Effectiveness in organizing and presenting material,
- Ability to stimulate thinking and develop understanding in students,
- Ability to arouse student interest,
- Demonstrated resourcefulness, and
- Concern for students.
Barb exceeds these standards and is dedicated to providing her students with a high-quality education. She says that she is humbled to be recognized for simply doing what she loves to do – teach.
“When students tell me that my classes helped in their ability to pass standardized tests in their chosen fields or in their ability to successfully find employment or admission to higher-degreed programs after graduation, I feel I have in some small way made a difference,” Barb says.
Barb has bachelor’s degrees in pure mathematics and statistics, and a master’s degree in pure mathematics from The University of Akron. She also has a certification in secondary mathematics education from The University of Akron. Barb earned her doctorate in curriculum and instruction – mathematics education.
She encourages students in all of her undergraduate mathematics courses to think critically and develop concepts so that the material is meaningful to them.
“Teaching mathematics becomes the mechanism of providing students with the opportunities and motivation to construct and create ideas and to come to know their own power as learners and creators of mathematics,” Barb says. “My teaching style reflects this philosophy and varies from class to class, depending on what I find leads students to best understand the concepts.”
Clara Dourm, senior middle childhood education student, says that Barb is an outstanding role model and is dedicated to preparing her students for their future.
“Dr. Barb models her thought processes to show her students how she would work through a math problem,” Dourm says. “This helps her students to develop higher thinking skills to solve more complex problems.”
Amanda Nicholas, senior middle childhood education student, says Barb is an “exceptional teacher,” who builds long-lasting relationships with her students.
“She is always more than willing to take time out of her day to work with her students and provide extra help,” Nicholas says. “Even after [I completed] her courses, she has always been available to help me and give advice about future math classes.”
Barb explains that her most memorable moment at Kent State is receiving this award, but she says that it is the interactions she has with her students each day that lead her to her biggest accomplishments.
“It’s the little moments — when students let you know that you have made a difference — and for me, that is often when I can change an attitude of indifference or dislike of mathematics to one of appreciation,” Barb says. “When students see the beauty of mathematics, as I do, a memorable moment occurs.”