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Jinfa Cai
JInfa Cai conducts research on the teaching and learning of math.

China honors UD's Cai

Photo by Evan Krape

Math professor receives prestigious award from education ministry

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 international level.

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 teaching math.

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.

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