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Karen leads NZCER's research programme on vocational and professional education. She believes strongly in the rich learning potential of different contexts and settings.
She is currently leading the following projects:
- research and development of a tool to profile and support building and construction apprentices to complete their qualifications
- an evaluation of Engineering e2e (education-to-employment)
Recently she finished leading projects on the transformational learning through "vocational thresholds" for GP registrars, carpentry apprentices, and engineering technician cadets, and on apprenticeships for capability in social and community support sector work.
Her other workplace learning projects include:
- producing a good practice guide to assessing on-job learning for ITOs
- reviewing the BCITO assessment model and writing a guide for carpentry apprentices
- conducting case studies and producing a framework for workplace learning pedagogies
- synthesising international research on workplace learning
- an international literature review on SME engagement in training
Karen has also done extensive research on career education and youth transition:
- the use and potential of career-management competencies in schools
- development of career education networks across schools, tertiary education and industry
- the five year Pathways and Prospects study with apprentices, army soldiers and officers, students at university and ITPs, and youth trainees
- a review supporting redevelopment of the Secondary-Tertiary Alignment Resource (STAR)
- prison education projects for the Department of Corrections
Karen is on the board for the New Zealand Association of Cooperative Education (for work-integrated learning). Prior to joining NZCER, she had a small software development business and was a research consultant at the University of Auckland.