Jinfa Cai, professor of mathematical sciences
at the University of Delaware, has been named a Changjiang Scholar, the
highest award given to an individual in higher education by China’s
Ministry of Education.
Only a limited number of international scholars, in addition to those
working in China, are selected for the prestigious award. Cai is the
sole honoree this year in the field of mathematics education.
The award recognizes those scholars in the top tier of China’s
“High-Level Creative Talents Plan,” which aims to recruit talented
academics in a variety of disciplines and establish research programs to
promote the development of those disciplines at the highest
Cai described himself as “blessed and honored” to receive the
recognition. “It will give me a chance to represent UD and to make
contributions to mathematics education research in China,” he said.
The award gives him the opportunity to continue his collaboration
with scholars from Beijing Normal, East China Normal and Southwest
universities, he said. In particular, he noted, he will work with
scholars from Southwest University to assist in the advancement of
research in mathematics education there and at other universities in the
western part of China.
A member of the UD faculty since 1996, Cai is highly regarded for his
research in cognitive studies of the teaching and learning of
mathematics, mathematical assessment, cross-cultural studies, problem
solving and posing, and teacher education.
He conducts two lines of research into the teaching and learning of
mathematics. One line consists of cross-cultural studies examining
differences and similarities between American and Chinese students, and
the other has involved following a group of U.S. students from grades
six through 12 and assessing the results of various approaches to
Cai is a fellow of the American Educational Research Association and the editor of Compendium for Research in Mathematics Education,
a comprehensive book published last year by the National Council of
Teachers of Mathematics. With more than 1,000 pages and 38 chapters
organized into five sections, the book is described as “a valuable new
resource [that] provides the most comprehensive evidence about what is
known about research in mathematics education.”
Cai serves as editor of the Journal for Research in Mathematics Education and is co-editing the Research in Mathematics Education monograph series, published by Springer.
In 2017, he received the Excellence in Scholarship Award from UD’s College of Arts and Sciences.
Changjiang (Yangtze River) Scholars are selected based on academic
accomplishment, publications, grants and international leadership and
recognition. Since China implemented the plan, the number of Changjiang
Scholars at a university has come to be seen as an important indicator
of that institution’s academic strength.
Article by Ann Manser; photo by Evan Krape