College of Humanities and Social Sciences staff

Dr Karen Ashton staff profile picture

Contact details +64 (06) 356 9099  ext. 84445

Dr Karen Ashton PhD

Senior Lecturer

Institute of Education

Karen Ashton is a Senior Lecturer in language education and research methodology. She is also the Programme Coordinator for the MEd and PGDip Ed TESOL Leadership programmes. Karen has worked on several large-scale and high profile language projects (European Survey on Language Competences and Asset Languages) in the UK (University of Cambridge), and is an experienced and passionate teacher educator. Her research interests include policy, assessment, comparative education, pedagogy for differentiation, and research methodologies with a focus on mixed methods research. While her research is generally within a language education context, she also has an interest in broader education issues.


Contact details

  • Ph: +64 6 351 3390 (extn: 84445)
    Location: CV2.09, Collinson Village
    Campus: Turitea


  • Doctor of Philosophy - Cambridge University (2009)
  • Master of Arts - Cardiff University (2004)
  • Bachelor of Arts - Victoria University (1998)
  • Bachelor of Commerce - Victoria University (1998)

Research Expertise

Research Interests

  • Foreign language learning and teaching
  • ESOL and TESOL
  • Policy and assessment
  • Differentiation and mixed-ability/level teaching
  • Comparative education
  • Research methodology, particularly mixed methods research.


  • MURF funded project titled Multi-level languages classrooms: What are the challenges and how do teachers cope? [2016]
  • Project titled A case study of the Japanese programme at Massey University: enrolment patterns and concomitant environmental factors. [2015]
  • A New Zealand Educational Institute (NZEI) funded project titled Investing in Educational Success model: Critical Evidence review. [2014-2015]
  • A Sasakawa Fellowship Foundation project titled Japanese language education in New Zealand: An evaluative literature review of the decline in students since 2005. [2012-2013]
  • Project Manager for the European Survey on Language Competences (UK), (initiated and funded by the European Commission), which tested the language skills of 55,000 secondary school pupils in 14 European countries. [2008-2012]
  • Research lead for Asset Languages, a multilingual assessment project (UK) derived from the UK's National Languages Strategy. Her role included test validation and managing a research agenda including cross-language and framework comparability. [2004-2008]


21st Century Citizenship

Area of Expertise

Field of research codes
Applied Linguistics and Educational Linguistics (200401):
Comparative and Cross-Cultural Education (130302): Curriculum and Pedagogy (130200): Education (130000): Education Systems (130100):
Languages, Communication And Culture (200000): Linguistics (200400):
LOTE, ESL and TESOL Curriculum and Pedagogy (excl. Maori) (130207): Specialist Studies in Education (130300): Teacher Education and Professional Development of Educators (130313)

Research Projects

Summary of Research Projects

Position Current Completed
Project Leader 0 1

Research Outputs


Ashton, K. (2017). Approaches to teaching in the multi-level language classroom. Innovation in Language Learning and Teaching. , 1-16
[Journal article]Authored by: Ashton, K.

Supervision and Teaching

Summary of Doctoral Supervision

Position Current Completed
Supervisor 1 0
CoSupervisor 2 1


Karen teaches on a range of courses providing expert input on language learning, TESOL and research methodology.

Karen is also the Coordinator for the MEd TESOL Leadership and PG DIp Ed TESOL Leadership programmes.

Current Doctoral Supervision

Supervisor of:

  • Ong-Art Namwong - PhD
    Learner-centred Approaches in Teaching English in Thailand

CoSupervisor of:

  • Thi Dang - PhD
    The belief change of pre-service teachers in an ESP teacher education program
  • Timu Niwa - Doctor of Education
    Ma Wai Ke?: An Exploratory Mixed-Methods Study on Teacher Enactment of the Ka Hikitia Policy

Completed Doctoral Supervision

CoSupervisor of:

  • 2017 - Fareeha Javed - PhD
    Pakistani Learners' Transition into University

Media and Links


  • 30 Jun 2012 - Newspaper
    Call to make learning languages compulsory
    Article for the Manwatu Standard
  • 20 Jul 2012 - Other
    Study encourages early language lessons for kiwis
    Massey University news story
  • 20 Aug 2016 - Magazine
    Language learning: Speak to me
    The Listener
  • 17 May 2016 - Radio
    Maths, science and global competence?
    Radio New Zealand
  • 07 May 2015 - Online
    NZ policy silent on language learning
    Massey University news story
  • 02 Jul 2012 - Newspaper
    Broaden kids horizons by learning languages
    Newspaper column for The Tribune
  • 01 May 2014 - Newspaper
    Going places with languages
    Newspaper column for The Tribune

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