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Mayida Zaal

Associate Professor, Teaching and Learning

University Hall 3196
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Dr. Mayida Zaal is an associate professor in the Department of Secondary and Special Education at Montclair State University. She earned her B.A. from Rutgers University in Biological Sciences and Spanish, her M.S. in Educational Leadership from Bank Street College of Education, and her Ph.D. in Urban Education from the Graduate Center at the City University of New York. As an educator and scholar, Dr. Zaal is committed to issues of social justice and equity. Her research focuses on participatory action research (PAR) as a transformative pedagogy and on understanding the lived experiences of immigrant-origin youth. She is particularly interested in the preparation of teachers working in diverse settings.

Her work with learners 3 to 62 years of age spans a wide range of public and private settings in the U.S. (NJ and NYC) and abroad (in Nigeria and in the Netherlands). She has taught math and science to middle schoolers in New Brunswick, NJ, led youth volunteers at Liberty Science Center, taught adult English Language Learners at the North Plainfield Adult High School, developed curricula for the American International School of Abuja, and conducted research with Muslim youth in the Netherlands.
At MSU, Dr. Zaal’s work with pre-service and in-service teachers is informed by her global and local perspectives. She teaches a number of undergraduate and graduate courses in the Teacher Education Program including Teaching for Learning I, Teaching for Learning II, and Assessment for Authentic Learning. Additionally, she taught Principles of Curriculum Development for graduate students seeking certification as school principals and supervisors.

She is the recipient of numerous awards including several National Science Foundation Fellowships and the American Association of University Women's American Fellowship. She is a founding member of the Public Science Project, a collaborative of participatory action researchers. She is a member of the Performance Assessment Review Board of New England and the Northeast Regional Board of the National Latino Education Research Agenda Project.


Dr. Zaal has conducted research with Muslim youth of immigrant origin to understand their everyday realities in the context of Islamophobia in the US and in the Netherlands. On this subject she has authored several articles including, “In the Shadow of Tolerance: The Discursive Context of Dutch-Born Muslim Youth” which will appear in a forthcoming issue of Policy Futures in Education, and “Islamophobia in Classrooms, Media and Politics” in the Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy. She co-authored “The Weight of the Hyphen: Freedom, Fusion, and Responsibility Embodied by Young Muslim American Women During a Time of Surveillance” with Tahani Salah and Michelle Fine which appeared in Applied Developmental Science.

With a team of teachers and researchers, Dr. Zaal has developed a PAR-based curriculum to engage secondary school students in transformative action. A team of researchers across three universities and two high schools studied the curriculum in action. The analysis of this research is currently in progress. Her single-authored and co-authored work on PAR-based research appears in the Journal of Curriculum Theorizing, the Journal of Education Policy, and the International Review of Qualitative Research.