Dr Karen McLean
Early Childhood Futures
Areas of expertise: early childhood education, adult literacy and technology, early learner literacy and technology
Phone: +613 5336 5420
Location: ACU Melbourne Campus
ORCID ID: 0000-0003-0332-6914
Karen is a researcher in the Early Childhood Futures research concentration in the Institute for Learning Sciences & Teacher Education, Australian Catholic University. Karen commenced her career in primary and early years’ education in regional Victoria. She has been working in early childhood education in tertiary education for over 10 years. Karen’s research uses sociocultural perspectives to understand learning for contemporary times. Her current research is directed towards Australian playgroup provision and includes an Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Research Award for $369,996 (2018-2020) to examine caregiver learning about play in community playgroups and social media. Karen’s research interests encompass children and adults’ learning with a focus on literacy, technology and play-based learning.
- McLean, K. (2020). Using the sociocultural concept of learning activity to understand parents’ learning about play in community playgroups and social media. British Journal of Educational Studies Online, 1-17.
- McLean, K. Edwards, S., & Mantilla, A. (2020). A review of community playgroup participation. Australasian Journal of Early Childhood, 45(2), 155-169. doi: 10.1177/1836939120918484
- McLean, K., Edwards, S., Evangelou, M., & Lambert, P. (2018). Supported Playgroups in Schools: Bonding and bridging family knowledge about transition to formal schooling. Cambridge Journal of Education, 48(2) 157-175. doi: 10.1080/0305764X.2016.1268569
- McLean, K., Edwards, S., Evangelou, M., Skouteris, H., Harrison, L.J., Hemphill, S.A., Sullivan, P., & Lambert, P. (2017). Playgroups as sites for parental education. Journal of Early Childhood Research, 15(3), 227-237. doi:10.1177/1476718X15595753
- McLean, K., Edwards, S., Morris, H. (2017). Community playgroup social media and parental learning about play. Computers & Education, 115, 201-210. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2017.08.004
- McLean, K. (2016). The implementation of bring your own device (BYOD) in primary [elementary] schools, Frontiers in Psychology, 7(1739), 1-3. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01739
- McLean, K. (2017). Anticipating future literacy teacher practice: Using reflective practice to foster confidence and competence to teach literacy in primary and early childhood contexts. In R. Brandenburg, J. Ryan, K. Glasswell, & M. Jones (Eds.), Reflective theory and practice in teacher education practice (pp.119-140). Singapore: Springer.
- Edwards, S., & McLean, K. & Lambert, P. (2017). Fostering children’s everyday mathematical knowledge through caregiver participation in supported playgroups in schools. In S. Phillipson, P. Sullivan, & A. Gervasoni (Eds.), Engaging families as the first mathematics educators of children (pp. 235-246). Singapore: Springer. Doi:10.1007/978-981-10-2553-2
- McLean, K. (2017). Literacy, technology and early years education: Building sustainable practice. In C. McLachlan & A. Arrow (Eds.), Literacy in the early years – Reflections on international research and practice (pp. 239-257). Singapore: Springer.
- McLean, K., & Edwards, S. (2016). Beginning the conversations about young children’s engagement with technology in contemporary times. In S. Garvis & N. Lemon (Eds.), Understanding digital technologies and young children: An international perspective (pp. 155-165). Oxon, UK: Routledge.
- Jones, M., & McLean, K. (2018). Personalising learning in teacher education. Singapore: Springer.
- McLachlan, C., Edwards, S., Margrain, V., & McLean, K. (2013). Children's learning and development: Contemporary assessment in the early years. Melbourne, Australia: Palgrave Macmillan.
- 2018-2020, Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Research Award (DE180100531): McLean, K. Caregiver learning about play in community playgroups and social media. $369,996
- 2017-2019, Australian Research Council Linkage Project (LP160101759): Edwards, S., McLean, K. Healy, C, Evangelou, M., Henderson, M., Nolan, A., Skouteris, H. A best practice framework for playgroups-in-schools. $156,000
- 2016, Playgroup Victoria, McLean, K., Edwards, S. Promoting the provision of parental provided play-activities in transition playgroups. $15,000
- 2015, Playgroup Victoria, McLean, K. and Edwards, S. Community playgroups – Connecting rural families locally. $15,000
- 2014, Ballarat City Council (CS & CSP Consortium), McLean, K., and Edwards, S. Supported playgroups in schools: stakeholder perspectives on belonging, home learning and young children’s play. $70,000
- 2012, Catholic Education Office Ballarat (CS & CSP Consortium), McLean, K, and Edwards, S., Bringing Playgroups into Schools (Category 2). $15,000
Accolades and awards
- 2018 Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Research Award, Caregiver learning about play in community playgroups and social media. $366,996
- 2018 Learning Sciences Institute of Australia, Australian Catholic University, Recognition of Research Excellence Award. $5,000
- 2013 Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Outstanding Community Engagement. Connecting Schools and Communities through Supported Playgroups in Schools Project.
- 2012 Australian Catholic University (ACU) prize for the most outstanding doctoral thesis: A story of early years educators’ experiences of technology and literacy in early years learning environments.
- 2012 Summa Cum Laude for PhD thesis: A story of early years educators’ experiences of technology and literacy in early years learning environments.
- 2012 OLT citation for Contribution to Student Learning: for building community partnerships that provide inspiring contexts for highly successful learning and teaching of primary school literacy education. $10,000
Appointments and affiliations
- Senior Lecturer/Researcher, Institute for Learning Sciences and Teacher Education (ILSTE), Australian Catholic University. 2014 -
- Researcher, Institute for Learning Sciences and Teacher Education (ILSTE), Australian Catholic University. 2012 -
- Academic Lecturer, Australian Catholic University. 2005 - 2014
- External Media Expert, Parenting Research Centre. 2019
- Expert Advisor role, AMAZE (2019). Autism and Inclusion at Kindergarten. Inclusive Autism resource for early childhood teachers funded by Department of Education and Training Victoria. 2019
- Convenor, Australian Association of Research in Education (AARE), Technology and Learning. 2016
- Committee Member, Municipal Early Years Plan Committee – Literacy and Numeracy. 2013 -
- Committee Member, Municipal Early Years Plan Committee – Early Childhood. 2012 -
- Advisory Group Member, Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Advisory Group (input to VEYLDF and national EYLF). 2009 -
International journal review panel
- Australasian Journal of Early Childhood
- Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education
- Journal of Early Childhood Literacy
- Journal of Early Childhood Research
- Educational Policy
- Language and Education
- Journal of Social Policy
- Learning Media and Technology
- Frontiers in Psychology
- Computers & Education