story by Claire Miller
College of Education & Human Development Associate Professor Gholnecsar (Gholdy) Muhammad and Assistant Professor Yinying Wang are 2020 recipients of the American Educational Research Association’s (AERA) Early Career Award.
This award is given annually to faculty who have “conducted a distinguished program of cumulative educational research in any field of educational inquiry within the first decade following receipt of their doctoral degree,” according to AERA’s website.
Muhammad earned her doctorate at the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2013 and then joined the CEHD’s Department of Middle and Secondary Education. She serves as director of the college’s Urban Literacy Collaborative and Clinic and has received research funding from the U.S. Department of Education, the National Council of Teachers of English and Georgia State University’s Global Initiatives Grant Program.
“I’m humbled and grateful that my work has been recognized,” she said. “I’m grateful to my Georgia State colleague, Natalie King, who nominated me. It means that maybe I’m doing something right and I have to keep going to make change in the systems we’re working within.”
Muhammad’s 2019 book, “Cultivating Genius: An Equity Framework for Culturally and Historically Responsive Literacy,” details her Historically Responsive Literacy Framework, a teaching and learning model she developed that honors students’ identities and encourages them to grow academically and personally. Her research, which has been published in Multicultural Perspectives, Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, Equity and Excellence in Education, Educational Studies and other journals, focuses on social and historical foundations of literacy development within Black communities and the writing practices among Black women and girls. In 2010, she established Black Girls Write, a summer writing institute for middle and high school students based on historical Black literary communities.
“I thought, what if I replicate historical Black literary societies with Black girls today?” Muhammad said. “Running Black Girls Write has been a highlight of my career. The girls push my thinking about what it means to be a black woman, and there’s a reciprocity of love, inspiration and learning in that space.”
Wang earned her doctorate at the University of Cincinnati in 2014 and then joined the CEHD’s Department of Educational Policy Studies. She is an affiliated faculty member in Georgia State’s Social Media Intelligence Lab and the Neuroscience Institute and has served as a dissertation committee chair for 10 educational leadership students since 2016. She serves as the co-chair of AERA Division A’s Early Career Scholar Mentoring Seminar and has been a University Council for Educational Administration Jackson Scholar Mentor for the last two years.
“It took me a few minutes to process the announcement that I’d received this award,” she said. “It was the best affirmation of the research I’ve been working on as an assistant professor in the early stages of my career.”
Wang’s research, which has been published in Educational Administration Quarterly, Journal of Educational Administration, Journal of School leadership, Educational Policy, Education Policy Analysis Archives, and other journals, focuses on the intersection of educational leadership, neuroscience and artificial intelligence. She has received research funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Spencer Foundation and has collaborated with Georgia State’s Neuroscience Institute and the Department of Computer Science on interdisciplinary projects, which she hopes to continue moving forward.
“It is a fascinating scholarly domain to explore how school leaders’ brain works when they make decisions, particularly the high-stakes ones,” she said.
For more information about AERA awards, visit https://www.aera.net/About-AERA/Awards.