Tanja Carmel Sargent, Ph. D. is an associate professor of Education, Culture, and Society in the Department of Educational Theory, Policy, and Administration (ETPA). Sargent’s work focuses on curriculum and pedagogical reforms in China. Her interest in China grows out of 6 years teaching English in Shanxi Province and Macau from 1993-1999 after she graduated from college. Sargent received a Ph.D. in Education and Sociology from the University of Pennsylvania, where she began her research studying the tensions inherent in the implementation of student centered approaches to teaching and learning that focus on the whole child in the context of two important barriers: the ever-present pressure to compete in the National College Entrance Examination (the gaokao), and the long-held cultural attitudes supporting teacher and text centered methods.
Sargent joined the Rutgers GSE in 2006 as an assistant professor. She has participated in many conference presentations, delivered many invited talks, and co-organized conferences and workshops about education in China including conferences organized with Chinese colleagues at Rutgers and in Shanxi. Throughout her career, she has published several articles in leading journals and book chapters. Her publications include an article entitled Professional learning communities and the diffusion of pedagogical innovation in the Chinese education systemin the journal Comparative Education Review. She is currently Associate Editor for the journal “Chinese Education and Society.”
From 2016-2018 Sargent was a Shanxi Province “Hundred Talents Program” Distinguished Professor affiliated with the Shanxi Center for Partnerships Promoting Quality and Innovation in Basic Education Research. Sargent is an affiliate faculty member at the Confucius Institute of Rutgers University and the Rutgers Center for Chinese Studies. She is co-founder of the Rutgers-China Lunch Hour where she gathers scholars from across Rutgers who study topics related to China and they share their work with each other. Since 2017, she has assisted in organizing a Rutgers GSE Faculty Trip to China in the summer that is funded by the Shanxi Center for Partnerships Promoting Quality and Innovation in Basic Education Research. During this trip to China the Rutgers GSE Faculty present papers at a teacher education conference at Shanxi Normal University. They also have the opportunity to visit schools and classrooms from Kindergarten all the way up through high school and engage in interaction and dialogue with Chinese educators.
• Ph. D. in Education and Sociology, University of Pennsylvania
• Comparative and International Education Society
• Association for Asian Studies
• Affiliate faculty member at Confucius Institute of Rutgers University
• Affiliate faculty member at Rutgers Center for Chinese Studies
• Shanxi Center for Partnerships Promoting Quality and Innovation in Basic Education Research, Distinguished Professor
Expertise & Research Interest
Chinese Education Reform
Research Work With Students
Sargent is guiding her Ph.D. student Daniel Smith in his work studying the Liberian education system. His dissertation is entitled “Caught in the Web: The Impact of Global and Local Pressures on the Organizational Effectiveness of the Liberian Education System in the Promotion and Monitoring of Teacher and Teaching Quality”. In his dissertation he uses a vertical case study approach to analyze interview data from representatives of international organizations, Liberian policy-makers, educational administrators at national, local and school levels, as well as classroom teachers; educational policies of international organizations and the Liberian Ministry of Education; administrative data from the Ministry of Education Liberian Educational Advancement Program (LEAP) on public private partnerships and teacher distribution; and survey and census data collected by the Liberian Institute of Statistics and Geo-Information Services (LISGIS) to outline the heterogeneity of the global and local institutional environment of education in Liberia and analyze DHS data collected by USAID on Liberian school attendance and school types. He draws on organizational theories to illuminate the response of the Ministry of Education to organizational pressures at the global, national, and local levels as they endeavor to provide quality teaching and safe learning environments for all Liberian students.
Recent & Selected Publications
Sargent, T. & Chen, L. (Special Issue Guest Eds). (forthcoming). The Chinese Teaching Research System: A Model for the Institutionalization of Professional Learning Communities around the World, Chinese Education and Society.
Sargent, T., Hao Shudan, Yang Xiao & Li Lin. (2020). Universalization of Preschool Education in Rural Shanxi. In Peggy Kong, Gerard Postiglione, and Emily Hannum. [Eds]. China’s Rural Education in Transition. Oxford: Routledge.
Zhang, Donghui & Tanja Sargent (2020) Education for Migrant Children in China. In Weist, M, Bela Sood & Caroline Clauss-Ehlers (Eds.) Social Justice for Children and Young People: International Perspectives: Cambridge University Press
Sargent, Tanja and Yang Xiao (Guest Eds). (2018). “Teaching Reform in Chinese Undergraduate Education”, Chinese Education and Society.
Sargent, Tanja. (2015). Professional learning communities and the diffusion of pedagogical innovation in the Chinese education system. Comparative Education Review. 59(1), 102-132.
Sargent, T., Kong, P., & Zhang, Y. (2014). Home environment and educational transitions on the path to college in rural northwest China. International Journal of Educational Development, 34, 98-109.
Honors & Awards
Longview Foundation Global Teacher Education Fellow 2020-2021
Distinguished Professor, Shanxi Province “Hundred Talents Program” (2016-2018)
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