San Jacinto College: Educator Selected to Author League for Innovation’s The Cross Papers

Member Spotlight

San Jacinto College veteran educator Dr. Karen Hattaway was selected by the League for Innovation in the Community College to author The Cross Papers, Number 18, a scholarly, in-depth monograph that will help to shape teaching strategies in many of the nation’s community colleges.

The format for The Cross Papers was established by K. Patricia Cross, a retired educator and scholar of educational research who wrote the first seven issues. Since the release of the inaugural issue in 1997, The Cross Papers have been designed to provide faculty with a body of useful, proven, practical strategies they can use in their classrooms to help improve their own teaching and their students’ learning.

In The Cross Papers, Number 18, Hattaway, an English professor at the San Jacinto College North Campus, used the example of student interaction with traditional and new-media texts, explaining that to become successful learners, students must not only manage texts in many disciplines, but also create their own texts to master and apply concepts in all their courses. The word texts in the context of her scholarly report refers to various educational tools and resources. “Students create their own texts as they develop reports, diagrams, video, and visual communications, as well as the traditional kinds of academic texts, like tests,” commented Dr. Hattaway. “The point is that a text is a basis for learning—a book, a biology specimen stretched out on wax, the Periodic Table, patient charts, the operation of a diesel engine, a completed weld. All of these are the texts that are involved in a student managing information gained in a class to become the knowledge that he or she develops to support the skills of investigation, reporting, and critical thinking that each student needs to take away from our campuses.”

Hattaway’s essay encourages faculty inquiry groups to provide opportunities for instructors to research, collaborate, develop, and evaluate ideas and practices designed to help students engage meaningfully with subject matter in the courses they take.

Hattaway was glad to contribute to The Cross Papers body of work because of the personal benefit she has gained from the writings. “I have read and incorporated many techniques and methods from past Cross Papers into my own teaching,” she remarked. “My goal is to contribute to this tradition by offering sound ideas that can translate productively into engaged teaching and learning.” In addition to authoring The Cross Papers, Number 18, Hattaway presented her work during the League’s 2015 Innovations conference in Boston.

Her personal teaching philosophy centers on creating a better future. “I am a teacher because teaching creates a healthy future by encouraging students to build skills for work, learning, and thinking that will shape tomorrow,” she said. “Teaching is the only profession where what is created never goes out of style or wears out. Education is forever.”

“We have always known that Dr. Hattaway is one of our most innovative and dedicated faculty members,” commented Dr. Laurel Williamson, Deputy Chancellor and President of San Jacinto College. “Now we know that the nation sees her in the same way. To be chosen to author one of The Cross Papers is an incredible honor, an achievement that few attain.”

Dr. Williamson further describes Hattaway as a faculty leader who takes on difficult challenges and who understands that creating an environment of student success is a dynamic combination of teaching and direct support for the student. “I have learned much from her, and our discussions about the changing landscape of education and the demands of our profession are always lively and enlightening,” Dr. Williamson said. “I am glad to have a colleague such as Dr. Hattaway.”