Thomas College Professor’s Work Published Recently for Teachers on How to Better Engage Students Web Director | August 28, 2018

WATERVILLE, MAINE, July 2018 — Thomas College education professor Dr. Katie Rybakova’s work was recently published citing her work in literacy engagement, dealing with death through dialogue, and using literature to engage first generation students. Additionally, Dr. Rybakova co-authored a piece on using distance learning to form collaborations between preservice teachers in different cities, which was published in Spring 2018.

Dr. Katie Rybakova is currently an assistant professor of education at Thomas College and is the Executive Director of the Maine Association for Middle Level Education. She earned her Ph.D. from Florida State University. She teaches a variety of classes at Thomas with a focus on literacy. Her research interests include young adult and adult literature, digital literacies, proficiency-based education, and preservice teacher engagement with rural education.

Rybakova’s most recent publications include a focus on engagement with young adult literature and the traditional Western canon in a multitude of ways. In the book chapter “Navigating The Metamorphosis using Visual Peritextual Elements,” Rybakova discussed the ways in which she has used various versions of the novella’s cover art, a peritextual element, to teach students strategies that lead to better overall reading comprehension. The chapter is set to be published Fall 2018 in the book Literacy Engagement through Peritextual Analysis, a text published by ALA and NCTE and edited by Dr. Witte, Dr. Latham, and Dr. Gross.

In “Dealing with Death through Dialogue: Existentialism and Looking for Alaska,” Rybakova explored the ways in which her students dealt with difficult topics, suicide in particular, when investigating the text Looking for Alaska by John Green. This chapter highlights the necessity for teachers of English and literature to allow for controversial discussions in a safe and reflective environment to promote not only complex analysis through concepts of existentialism but also to promote healthy dialogue and, in some cases, healing. This chapter will be published as part of the book titled When Loss gets Personal: Discussing Death through Literature in the Secondary ELA Classroom edited by Dr. Falter and Dr. Bickmore, professors at NC State. The book will be published by Rowman and Littlefield and has an anticipated print date of Spring 2019.

In her latest peer reviewed article publication, Rybakova speaks to the need to engage first generation college students in productive and analytic conversations in a literature classroom through the use of young adult literature as a scaffold to the canon. Published summer 2018, her featured article “Using Young Adult Literature with First Generation College Students in an Introductory Literature College Course” in The ALAN Review (volume 46, issue 1) is critical towards traditionalist professors who admonish the use of young adult literature in a college classroom. This article serves as a foundational rationale for those who recognize that teaching literature is about prioritizing the teaching of the students, not the subject.

Finally, her co-authored article on cross-university collegiality (published Spring 2018), written with Dr. Nicole Damico of UCF, can be found here This article looked at a practical way of encouraging preservice teachers to communicate with each other across different colleges.

“I’m thrilled to see these pieces in print. Part of my teaching philosophy is to continue to be a learner myself, and through the process of collecting data and writing these pieces I’ve continued to learn a lot about the teaching process and what I can continue to improve in my curriculum. For example, diving deep into the lessons where students explore The Metamorphosis through the use of peritextual elements allowed for me to see the reflective and predictive processes that students engaged in, and whether or not these practices truly allowed for more effective analysis,” said Rybakova. “To see the chapters and articles go to press as a contribution to the field that I am so passionate about, and to know that these words begin and continue a dialogue about getting better as literacy and literature instructors, is so exciting.”

Rybakova’s current research projects include a longitudinal study investigating the ways in which to engage preservice teachers with schools of rural poverty, preservice teacher reflection, a theoretical perspective of proficiency-based education, and a national collaboration between teacher educators focused on reviewing literacy and technology in the field of English education.

About Thomas College: Founded in 1894, Thomas College offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in programs ranging from business, entrepreneurship, and technology, to education, criminal justice, and psychology. Its Guaranteed Job Program, the first of its kind in the nation, is built on students’ academic, career, and leadership preparation. Thomas is also home to the Harold Alfond Institute for Business Innovation and the Center for Innovation in Education. Money Magazine recently ranked Thomas 23rd in the country for adding the most value to their degrees, and data reported by the New York Times ranks Thomas in the top 15 percent of all college and universities in the U.S. for upward mobility of its graduates. For more information, visit or contact MacKenzie Riley at [email protected] or 207-859-1313.