Thursday, October 4, 2018

By Sara Nelson

Jamaal Young, new associate professor in mathematics education, wants to prepare students for changing classrooms.

Young earned his Bachelor of Science in biomedical engineering and his Master of Arts and doctorate from Texas A&M University in curriculum and instruction. 

“I’m looking forward to taking my research to the next level. I’m excited to tap into the university’s resources and contribute to the great history of scholarship that already exists here at the University of Iowa,” says Young. 

Young’s research centers on modeling and explaining academic outcomes of African-American students. He looks at outcomes and achievement in STEM content areas, mathematics and science. While there is a large body of literature that compares African-American students to other groups, particularly white students, the research looks at the differences between the two groups, and often ignores the gains, says Young. Young’s research fills in those gaps, helping to look at what is challenging or promoting achievement for African American students. 

Young was initially focused on integrating technology into mathematics classroom. However, when Young was a graduate student at Texas A&M, a former African-American student of his, who had just begun his freshman year at the university, ran into Young. The student told Young that he came to the university to become a biomedical engineer, just like Young, because he was inspired by his former teacher. This made Young want to shift his research towards African-American students and has been his motivation ever since. 

“I want to prepare my students for all classrooms. I want to prepare them for the current classroom and for the evolution that will take place over time in the classroom,” says Young. “Our nation is becoming more and more diverse, so exposing our students to good ways to engage all students early on will help them in the long run.”