Karen Evans



Karen Evans is Professor of Education (Lifelong Learning) at the Institute of Education, University of London. At the Institute of Education she was Head of the School of Lifelong Education and International Development from 2001 to 2005, and is currently co-director of Centre for Excellence in Work-Based learning for Education Professionals. Karen’s research interests are learning in life and work transitions, and learning in, for and through the workplace. She has directed 15 major studies of learning and the world of work in Britain and internationally, funded by the ESRC, charitable institutions (including the Leverhulme Trust), the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Anglo-German Foundation, the European Commission and a range of Government agencies.Karen's most recent ESRC TLRP project ‘Putting knowledge to work: Integrating work-based and subject-based knowledge in intermediate-level qualifications and workforce upskilling’, has developed a conceptual framework and methodology for analysing the way curricular that are designed to support the integration of learning in work and the classroom are designed. The challenge is to extend this methodology from the specific curriculum contexts in which the methodology was developed to more typical WIL scenarios in higher education.


Putting Knowledge to Work ESRC Briefing.pdf




Seven Principles for Putting Knowledge to Work: exploring their potential for the 'sandwich placement model' of work integrated learning
Karen Evans, Institute of Education, University of London

Video presentation

Karen Evans.ppt 

Web link to resources


Approaches to the longstanding challenges of ‘integrating’ subject-based and work-based knowledge have typically focused on questions of how learning can be ‘transferred’  from one setting to another, usually from theory into practice. What has continually dogged attempts at transfer is how to overcome the assumed ‘abstract’ nature of theory in relation to the assumed ‘real’ nature of practice. This is often seen as a single movement as encapsulated in the term ‘from theory to practice’.


The presentation will offer a fresh approach that concentrates on different forms of knowledge and the ways in which these are contextualised and ‘recontextualised’ as people move between different sites of learning in universities, colleges and workplaces.


The aim has been to improve practice in work-based learning (WBL) by researching how the subject-based and work-based aspects of a curriculum or learning programme can articulate with one another. In a research field that has come to be dominated by consideration of organisational arrangements and the technical issues that accompany credit and quality assurance frameworks, questions of knowledge, teaching and learning have been relatively neglected. The concept of recontextualisation offers some new ways of enquiring into longstanding and seemingly intractable problems, by articulating what is involved in successfully moving knowledge from disciplines and workplaces into a curriculum; from a curriculum into successful pedagogic strategies and learner engagement in educational institutions and workplaces. Specifically, the research has identified a number of pedagogic strategies that facilitate this outcome. Some strategies are a ‘smart’ re-working of long-standing pedagogic practices, for example, the ‘gradual release’ of knowledge and responsibility builds engagement and confidence. Other strategies, such as the use of  ‘Industry Educators’, supplements educational expertise in vital ways by bringing real-world perspectives into teaching and learning process without losing sight of academic and/or education-related requirements.

These and other key principles will be explored for their potential to inform the design and facilitation of curricular that incorporate a 'sandwich placement model' of work integrated learning.



Evans K, Guile D and Harris J (2009) Putting knowledge to work: The Exemplars.  WLE Centre, Institute of Education, University of London 

Key words:  recontextualising knowledge, integrating subject and work-based knowledge, work based learning

Link to resources 

Work-Based Learning for Education Professionals :: WLE Centre for Excellence - Putting Knowledge to Work