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Georgia Southern University professor wins national Student Impact Award from Top Hat

Presentation of the 21022 Student Impact Award to Elizabeth Sargent, Ph.D., during the Top Hat annual conference.

Georgia Southern biology lecturer Elizabeth Sargent, Ph.D., won the 2022 Student Impact Award from Top Hat, a digital platform for teachers and professors to connect with students online, distribute assignments and give in-class quizzes and exams.

This national award is given annually to  one educator in the United States who excels at connecting and collaborating with students to improve learner outcomes.

Sargent said she’s always looking for ways to improve the connection between the students and the content.

“I do really deliberately design my courses and interact with my students in a genuine way to enhance their learning,” said Sargent. “It was really nice to be recognized for what I’m trying to do or having the effect that I’m trying to make them have.”

Sargent said her approach to her classroom has been evolving over time. Her teaching style started by standing in front of her students for the entire class period, and described it as “survival mode.” Since then, she has turned her classroom around and now gives students more of an opportunity to set the pace.

Sargent said thanks to using platforms like the one giving her the award, she can give students access to materials quicker, and the data she sees can show her trends in what students are learning and how.

The path to this classroom format is the culmination of her own experiences when she was a student.

“I can definitely think of some of my favorite professors and things that they did that I really enjoyed,” Sargent said. “I can also think of professors that I really didn’t gel with and things they did that I did not enjoy. So, I take little pieces of what worked and what didn’t for me personally, and I try to build that in.”

Sargent was announced the winner of the award during a Top Hat virtual teaching conference on Feb. 25.


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