Karen Van-Berlo

Karen Van-Berlo


Telephone: 01905 855450 

College: College of Social Sciences and International Studies

Part-time EdD (Generic) Thesis Stage

Senior Lecturer in Physical Education 

Institute of Sport & Exercise Science 

University of Worcester



 “I am in the fourth year of my EdD journey which for me can only be described as an educational and life-changing expedition. So far, it has taken me to unfamiliar and often challenging places from which I have moved on as a different person from the one I was when I arrived.  I set off as a highly experienced and enthusiastic practitioner and, in hindsight, can recall milestones on the way to the identity of a practitioner-researcher. The end of the 2013 summer school has taken me to a new junction where I have chosen to follow the pathway towards being a researcher-practitioner.  I know that this subtle shift in the direction of my working life will lead to new ventures.  I am excited by the prospect of entering unknown territory and certain that I will encounter seemingly impassable terrain on the way.  However as I traverse the forthcoming challenges, from loose scree to maybe even an avalanche or two, I know that the Exeter belay will protect me from falling into oblivion.”


The part-time EdD route at Exeter was particularly attractive to me for two reasons: firstly, the bringing together of professionals and policy makers from similar but discrete sectors has provided an opportunity to engage with colleagues beyond the boundaries of higher education.  This has challenged and enriched my personal perspective on key aspects of my work.  Secondly, the model of co-operative scholarly activity combined with presentations, seminars, independent learning and assignments has provided a strong framework for my doctoral passage.  This mode of study, as opposed to a pure research route, has suited my preferred learning style whereby face-to-face lectures and the opportunities for discourse have stimulated both creative and positive action on my part.

My research interests lie in the domain of the student experience with assignment papers exploring issues such as the paradox of democracy in universities, factors associated with disengagement and the reliability (or otherwise) of the National Student Survey (NSS) as an indicator of student satisfaction.  My forthcoming thesis will focus on the NSS and ascertain whether conducting the survey in the earlier stages of an undergraduate degree will enhance understanding of the evolving attitudes and needs of students so that changes made by a university can be more responsive.  These interests are founded in my belief in the voice and engagement of students as co-contributors to their learning community and society.

Further information about my “day job” can be found at http://www.worcester.ac.uk/discover/karen-van-berlo.html


Entry qualifications and earlier research

MSc (Education Management) (2000) Dissertation:  The impact of an international dimension on the teaching profession of the 21st century: An investigation of the learning values of an international experience for trainee teachers in a higher education environment

I started the EdD with a very limited amount of research experience relative to colleagues in my institution, with published work employing more of an exemplar model:


Van Berlo, K. (2008) Case studies to exemplify outstanding practice and to support the guidance for Qualified Teacher Status and Initial Teacher Training Requirements. Developing Trainees’ Professional Attributes in TDA

Van Berlo, K. (2007) Initial Teacher Training: A case study based on the BA (Hons) Primary Initial Teacher Education course at University of Worcester. Physical Education Matters. 2 (3), 23-26.

Van Berlo, K. (2006) International Week – a focused approach to internationalizing the curriculum.  HEA case study accessed via  http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/assets/documents/resources/database/id607_international_week.doc  

Other contributions

  • Van Berlo, K. (2012) (2008) Safe Practice in Physical Education & School Sport. Contribution to Dance chapter in AfPE.
  • 2010 Involved in collaborative research (University of Worcester and Brunel) on the development of ‘The Thinking Teacher’
  • 2006-10 Advisory Group member for a National Teaching Fellowship research project concerning International collaboration in HE
  • 2009 Created a University of Worcester Virtual Learning Environment for Internationalisation of the Curriculum
  • 2007 “Enhancing Graduate Employability: Embedding Degree+ in the curriculum - supporting the development of employability, enterprise and community involvement” (project management group)
  • 2007 University of Worcester Primary generalist physical education provision nominated as a model of good practice to the Secretary of State for Education by the Association for Physical Education

In 2007, I received additional incremental salary points for my ‘outstanding contribution to learning and teaching’