Katherine Frankel

Assistant Professor

Dr. Katherine Frankel is an assistant professor of literacy education in the Boston University Wheelock College of Education and Human Development, where she teaches graduate courses in reading/literacy. In her research, Dr. Frankel employs critical sociocultural theories to examine literacy teaching and learning in secondary classrooms, one-on-one tutoring spaces, and other literacy instruction and intervention contexts. She focuses on understanding how adolescents’ multiple literacies and identities are enacted across space and time, and how they intersect with the literacy practices of school. Dr. Frankel’s ongoing objective is to connect theory, research, and practice to understand the curricular and pedagogical actions that youth, teachers, scholars, and others may take to expand adolescents’ literacy learning opportunities in ways that affirm and grow their literacy histories, identities, and capacities, and that position them as literacy knowers and doers.

Prior to completing her doctorate, Dr. Frankel was a grammar and composition teacher and reading tutor at Landmark High School in Beverly, MA.

Currently, Dr. Frankel is working on the following:

  • 2020-2023: STEM Literacies, Identities, and Learning through Cascading Models of Near-Peer Mentoring ($1.15M)
    • Co-PI (with PI Eli Tucker-Raymond and Co-PI Maria C. Olivares, Boston University). National Science Foundation: EHR Core Research. DRL #2000511.
  • Editorial Review Board Member, Research in the Teaching of English; Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy; Literacy Research: Theory, Method, and Practice; Reading Horizons
  • Committee Member, Literacy Research Association, P. David Pearson Scholarly Influence Award (2019-2022)
  • Co-Editor, Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy department column, Beyond Struggling: Transforming Literacy Teaching (2018-2019)
  • Co-Chair, Literacy Research Association Annual Conference, Area 3: Literacy Instruction and Literacy Learning (2017-2019)

Ph.D., Language, Literacy, & Culture, University of California, Berkeley

M.A., English & American Literature, New York University

B.A., Comparative Literature, Dartmouth College

LS762: Literacy Acquisition and Development: Addressing Individual Strengths and Needs

LS792: Teaching Adolescent Readers and Writers

LW736: Teaching Writing, K-12

LW781: Processes of Writing

RS752: Seminar in Qualitative Research

Dr. Frankel engages in literacy research in partnership with middle and high school students and their teachers. Her research is located in secondary classrooms, one-on-one tutoring spaces, and other literacy instruction and intervention contexts. In her work, she seeks to understand how adolescents’ multiple literacies and identities intersect with the literacy practices of school, as well as how those practices might be transformed through collaborative relationships between youths, teachers, scholars, and communities in the pursuit of sustainable, expansive, and equity-oriented learning.

Recent projects:

Collaborating with Adolescents in Literacy Teaching and Learning (funded by the BU Wheelock Faculty Research Catalyst Award): Secondary literacy instruction often happens to adolescents rather than with them. To disrupt this trend, this project is a collaboration between university researchers, a secondary teacher, and 11th- and 12th-grade “literacy mentors” to reimagine literacy teaching and learning with 9th- and 10th-grade mentees in public high school classrooms. In this project, students, teachers, and researchers work together to promote meaningful literacy engagement by facilitating peer-supported reading, writing, and discussion of self-selected texts. Using theories of identity and positioning, we seek to understand the positions that become available to students in this context across time, and the practices that enable and constrain those positions. We further investigate how monthly debriefs with students, designed to engage contradictions in school and peer-supported literacy practices and purposes, can complicate and disrupt hierarchical assumptions and structures by creating opportunities for collaborative imagining.

From Reading Clinic to Literacy Studio: Expanding Opportunities for Collaborative Learning among Students, Teachers, and Communities: In this project, we are exploring ways of expanding the literacy learning opportunities afforded to students and tutors who participate in a university-based reading and writing clinic through the design of interdisciplinary experiences that foreground relationality and mobility as central to literacy learning. We employ sociocultural frameworks and social design methodologies—including opportunities for co-designing, side-by-side learning, and critique with students and their tutors—to understand the literacy practices and relationships that characterize the clinic and studio spaces, and to engage contradictions and transformations that emerge within and across those spaces.

Visit Dr. Frankel's Faculty Profile

Frankel, K. K., Brooks, M. D., & Learned, J. E. (2021). A meta-synthesis of qualitative research on reading intervention classes in secondary schools. Teachers College Record, 123(8), 1-14.

Fields, S. S., & Frankel, K. K. (2021). A case study of one youth’s stance toward the discourse of literary analysis in a secondary English classroom. Research in the Teaching of English, 55(4), 393-415.

Frankel, K. K., & Fields, S. S. (2019). Disrupting storylines: A case study of one adolescent’s identity, agency, and positioning during literacy tutoring. Literacy Research and Instruction, 58(3), 142-163.

Frankel, K. K., Fields, S. S., Kimball-Veeder, J., & Murphy, C. R. (2018). Positioning adolescents in literacy teaching and learning. Journal of Literacy Research, 50(4), 446-477.

Frankel, K. K., & Murphy, C. R. (2018). Collaborating with youths as co-teachers in literacy learning. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 62(2), 227-231.

Frankel, K. K., & Brooks, M. D. (2018). Why the “struggling reader” label is harmful (and what educators can do about it). Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 62(1), 111-114.

Frankel, K. K. (2017). What does it mean to be a reader?: Identity and positioning in two high school literacy intervention classes. Reading & Writing Quarterly: Overcoming Learning Difficulties, 33(6), 501-518.

Frankel, K.K. (2016). The intersection of reading and identity in high school literacy intervention classes. Research in the Teaching of English, 51(1), 37-59.

Frankel, K. K., Becker, B. L. C., Rowe, M. W., & Pearson, P. D. (2016). From “what is reading?” to what is literacy? Journal of Education, 196(3), 7-18.

Frankel, K. K., Jaeger, E., Brooks, M. D., & Randel, M. (2015). Struggling readers?: Using theory to complicate understandings of what it means to be literate in school. Literacy Research: Theory, Method, and Practice, 64, 307-322.

Frankel, K. K. (2013). Revisiting the role of explicit genre instruction in the classroom. Journal of Education, 193(1), 17-30.

Frankel, K. K., Pearson, P. D., & Nair, M. (2011). Reading comprehension and reading disability. In A. McGill-Franzen & R. L. Allington (Eds.), Handbook of reading disability research (pp. 219-231). New York, NY: Routledge.

Frankel, K. K., & Wright, M. K. (April, 2021). Students’ and tutors’ perspectives on meaningful literacy learning in a university-based reading and writing clinic. Paper presented at the American Educational Association Annual Conference (Virtual).

Frankel, K. K., & Fields, S. S. (December, 2020). Adolescents’ identities as readers and mentors in a high school literacy mentorship class. Paper presented at the Literacy Research Association Annual Conference (Virtual).

Frankel, K. K., & Brooks, M. D. (December, 2019). A synthesis of qualitative research on secondary reading intervention classes. Paper presented at the Literacy Research Association Annual Conference, Tampa, FL.

Frankel, K. K., & Brooks, M. D. (April, 2019). Interrogating oral reading in secondary literacy intervention classrooms. Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association Annual Conference, Toronto, ON, Canada.

Frankel, K. K., Fields, S. S., & Ward-Goldberg, A. (November, 2018). If it’s not about the test, what’s the point? Confronting constraints in the design of a school-based literacy community. Paper presented at the Literacy Research Association Annual Conference, Palm Springs, CA.

Frankel, K. K. (October, 2018). Collaborating with adolescents in literacy teaching and learning: Positions, practices, possibilities. Paper presented at the Wheelock College of Education & Human Development Educational Research Seminar, Boston, MA.

Frankel, K. K., Fields, S. S., & Ward-Goldberg, A. (April, 2018). Navigating contradictions: Shared and contested tools in the design of literacy learning opportunities with/for adolescents. Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association Annual Conference, New York, NY.

Frankel, K. K., Fields, S. S., Kimball, J., & Thomas, S. (November/December, 2017). Contradictions, transformations, and nested activity systems: Designing a peer mentorship approach to literacy learning for adolescents. Paper presented at the Literacy Research Association Annual Conference, Tampa, FL.

Frankel, K. K. (July, 2017). (Re)Positioning readers in a peer mentorship model of literacy instruction for adolescents. Paper presented at the 2017 Positioning Theory Conference, Oxford, UK.

Brooks, M. D., & Frankel, K. K. (November, 2016). The transition to high school: Examining reading practices in three ninth-grade literacy intervention classrooms. Paper presented at the 2016 Literacy Research Association Conference, Nashville, TN.

Frankel, K. K., Fields, S. S., & Miller, T. (December, 2015). Negotiating reading and identities: Applying identity theory to research in literacy intervention settings. Paper presented at the 2015 Literacy Research Association Conference, Carlsbad, CA.

Frankel, K. K. (April, 2015). Re-mediating reading: A Tier 2 Response to Intervention (RTI) in a secondary school. Paper presented at the 2015 American Educational Research Association Conference, Chicago, IL.

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