Tertiary, vocational and work-based learning


We recognise that postsecondary education is paramount to strengthening Australia's social and economic fabric. Our researchers study issues that affect learning in tertiary, vocational and workplace education.

Our focus areas for research include:

  • adult and work-based learning
  • teacher professional development
  • career development
  • use and impact of ICT.

One key project is researching changing the way that young Australian school and tertiary students with part-time working careers enter the workforce. Another is investigating the constructed identities of tech-savvy youth and the formation of social relations in online and offline worlds.

Our research has produced valuable insights into tertiary students' readiness for online learning and a revised learning and development survey of employees' adaptive capacity.


Evidence of research quality

ERA (Excellence in Research for Australia) 2015 score:

  • 4 (above world standard) -
    • Education Systems (FOR 1301)
    • Specialist Studies in Education (FOR 1303).

ERA (Excellence in Research for Australia) evaluates the quality of research undertaken in Australian universities against national and international benchmarks.



This is just a sample of our research activity in this area.


International linkages

North America:

  • University of Victoria, Canada
  • University of Georgia, USA

Significant corporate partnerships

  • Education Queensland
  • Local Government Association of Queensland
  • Queensland Rail
  • Queensland Education Leadership Institute

Cross-disciplinary engagement

  • Business Management
  • Commercial Services
  • Communication and Media Studies
  • Sociology


Evidence of impact

  • The Systems Theory Framework of Career Development (Patton & McMahon, 2006) has led to renewed discussions in the field around theory integration. It was the core theoretical impetus for Collin and Patton (2009). In addition it has led to the development of a career counselling tool: My System of Career Influences, McMahon, Patton & Watson, 2005, published by ACER.
  • An adult version of the MSCI has just been accepted for publication by Australian Academic Press. It is already widely used and has been translated into 5 languages.

Our research:

  • provides a decision-making model that helps to explain the forces at play when teachers face an ethical decision. It offers a variety of strategies that may help minimise the impact of ethical dilemmas
  • established transitional employment provisions in local governments in Queensland to retain older workers.

Research degree enquiries

Education research office

Commercial research enquiries

Faculty of Education - consultancies

  • Level 3, B Block
    Victoria Park Road
    Kelvin Grove 4059

  • Postal address:
    Faculty of Education - Development Office
    GPO Box 2434
    Brisbane QLD 4001