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Karen Vaughan

Job Title: 
Chief Researcher

Karen leads NZCER's research programme on vocational and professional education. She believes strongly in the rich learning potential of all kinds of settings, and has a particular interest in those outside of educational institutions. She enjoys designing projects to impact on practice and policy. 

She is currently working on Training for a Reflective Workforce in Health and Community Support Services which investigates workforce capabilities against the changing nature of the social and community support sector’s work.  

Karen recently led the Knowing Practice project, which explored "vocational thresholds" - transformational learning experiences at work that help people integrate theory and practice. Her team worked with GP registrars, carpentry apprentices, engineering technician cadets, and their workplace-based mentors and educators, employers, ITOs, and professional associations.

Her other workplace learning projects include: writing a good practice guide to assessing on-job learning for ITOs; reviewing the BCITO assessment model and writing a guide for carpentry apprentices; and synthesising international research on workplace learning and on SME engagement in training.  

She has also done extensive research on career education and youth transition: the use and potential of career-management competencies in schools; the 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; and a review helping redevelopment of the Secondary-Tertiary Alignment Resource (STAR).

She also recently led several projects on prison education (young prisoners with special education needs; assessment and literacy/numeracy support). 

Prior to joining NZCER, Karen had a software business, building bespoke applications for SMEs. She has also been a research consultant and lecturer at the University of Auckland. 

Qualifications: 
PhD (Education), University of Auckland
MA (Hons), University of Auckland
PG Dip. Business, Massey University
Level 2 Certificate Te Reo Maori, AUT University

Research outputs

Year published Title Publication type Category
2016 Acts of learning worth learning from Journal article
2016 Developing expertise without certainty in general practice medicine Journal article Careers and transition Learning at work Professional learning
2015 Knowing Practice: Vocational Thresholds for GPs, Carpenters, and Engineering Technicians Research report Careers and transition Learning at work Professional learning
2015 Knowing Practice: Vocational Thresholds for GPs, Carpenters, and Engineering Technicians Summary Report Research summary Careers and transition Learning at work Professional learning
2014 Mate, You Should Know This! Re-negotiating practice after a critical incident in the assessment of on-job learning Journal article Learning at work Post-school learning Professional learning
2013 Training Wheels Journal article Learning at work Post-school learning
2012 A Transformational System for On-Job Assessment in the Building and Construction Industries Research report Careers and transition Learning at work
2012 Learning to Fly: Career Management Competencies in the School Subject Classroom Research report Careers and transition Key Competencies
2012 New Roles for Science Teachers in Career Education Journal article Careers and transition Key Competencies
2012 Taking charge of your apprenticeship Professional learning resource Careers and transition Learning at work Professional learning
2012 The integration of work and learning in New Zealand: A working paper Working paper Learning at work Post-school learning
2011 English teachers and education-employment linkages for young people Journal article Careers and transition Key Competencies
2011 Successful Workplace Learning: How Learning Happens at Work Research report Learning at work
2011 The potential of career management competencies for renewed focus and direction in career education Journal article Careers and transition Key Competencies
2010 A Guide to Good Practice in ITO Structures and Systems for On-Job Assessment Research report Learning at work Post-school learning
2010 Career Education Networks and Communities of Practice: A report from the School-Communities strand of the Education Employment Linkages project Research report Careers and transition Learning at work Post-school learning
2010 Engaging Young People/Young Adults in Literacy, Language and Numeracy Skill Development Research report Learning at work
2010 Engaging young people/young adults in literacy, language and numeracy skill development: A Literature Review Research report Learning at work Student engagement
2010 ITO Assessment Structures and Systems: Survey and Focus Group Findings Research report Learning at work
2010 Learning workers: Young New Zealanders and early career development Journal article Careers and transition Longitudinal projects Post-school learning
2009 A Matter of Perspective: Mapping Education Employment Linkages in Aotearoa New Zealand Research report Post-school learning Student engagement
2009 A Taste of Possible Futures: making the most of STAR short introductory courses Paper Careers and transition
2009 Assessment of Learning in the Workplace: A Background Paper Research report Learning at work
2009 Competent Learners on the Edge of Adulthood: A summary of key findings from the Competent Learners @ 16 project Research report Families and communities Longitudinal projects
2008 Education Employment Linkages: International Literature Review Research report Careers and transition
2008 Student Perspectives on Leaving School, Pathways, and Careers (A Report from the Competent Learners Project) Research report Careers and transition Families and communities Longitudinal projects
2008 Tale of two hyphens: working the policy-research and researcher-researched hyphens in a longitudinal youth transition project Journal article Careers and transition Longitudinal projects Post-school learning
2008 Trading Choices: Young people's career decisions and gender segregation in the trades Research report Policy
2007 Careers education in New Zealand schools Research report Careers and transition
2007 Developing a 'productive' account of young people's transition perspectives Journal article Careers and transition Longitudinal projects
2007 Down under: Careers education in New Zealand Journal article Careers and transition
2006 Who wants to play "Careers"? New research into young people's priorities and the future of careers guidance Journal article Careers and transition
2006 Young people producing careers and identities: The first report from the Pathways and Prospects project Research report Careers and transition Longitudinal projects
2006 Zooming in on learning in the digital age (ZILDA): Report 1: Zooming in on 'digital' age learners Research report ICT Schooling for the future Student engagement
2005 Pathways, junctions, and pitstops: Youth transition policy in New Zealand Book chapter Careers and transition Student engagement
2005 Shaping our futures: Meeting secondary students' learning needs in a time of evolving qualifications: final report of the Learning Curves project Research report Curriculum and assessment NCEA
2005 The pathways framework meets consumer culture: Young people, careers, and commitment Journal article Careers and transition
2004 Alternative education today Journal article Policy
2004 Evaluation of Youth Pathways/He Ara Rangatahi Research report Careers and transition
2004 Learning curves: Meeting student learning needs in an evolving qualifications regime: Shared pathways and multiple tracks: A second report Research report Curriculum and assessment NCEA
2004 Total eclipse of the heart? Theoretical and ethical implications of doing post-structural ethnographic research Journal article Policy
2003 A constellation of prospects: A review of the secondary-tertiary alignment resource (STAR) Research report Post-school learning
2003 Changing Lanes: Young people making sense of pathways Conference paper Careers and transition
2002 Learning curves: Meeting student needs in an evolving qualification regime - key findings from the first stage of a longitudinal study Conference paper Curriculum and assessment Longitudinal projects NCEA
2002 Learning curves: Meeting student needs in an evolving qualifications regime: From cabbages to kings: A first report Research report Curriculum and assessment NCEA
2002 New orthodoxies? The politics of alternative education in New Zealand Journal article Policy
2002 Some like it liminal: Finding a place for the last alternative state high school in New Zealand Journal article Policy
2002 Turning Barriers into Opportunities: A Literature Review on Small to Medium-Sized Enterprise (SME) Engagement with Formal Training Literature review Learning at work Post-school learning
2002 Well I know I need English and Maths ... Conference paper Curriculum and assessment NCEA
2001 Daring to be different: The rise and fall of Auckland Metropolitan College Journal article Policy