Professor Karen Guldberg

Dr Karen Guldberg

School of Education
Professor of Autism Studies
Director of the Autism Centre for Education and Research

Contact details

School of Education
University of Birmingham
Edgbaston, Birmingham
B15 2TT, United Kingdom

Professor Karen Guldberg is currently Director of the Autism Centre for Education and Research (ACER) at the School of Education, University of Birmingham. She is a Professor of Autism Studies in the Department of Disability, Inclusion and Special Needs (DISN).

Karen is passionate about ensuring there is synergy between her teaching and research. She teaches on undergraduate level programmes through to Masters and PhD level, with all the teaching focused on meeting the needs of parents and practitioners in the field of autism. She has a paricular interest in online learning and  developed the first blended learning programme in autism, which was launched in 2002.

Her research interests are in the areas of Technology Enhanced Learning for children with autism; the training needs of practitioners in the field of autism and on notions of 'good autism practice'. She applies social learning theory to her work, with a particular focus on communities of practice. She is also inspired and guided by theories around inter-subjectivity.


  • PhD, University of Birmingham
  • PG Cert (TLHE), University of Birmingham
  • PGCE, University of West of England
  • MEd (Distinction), University of Birmingham
  • MA, University of West of England
  • BA 2:1, University of Manchester



  • University Certificate (Autism Spectrum)
  • Certificate of Higher Education (Autism Spectrum)
  • Autism Children, Distance Education

Postgraduate supervision

Dr Guldberg supervises a number of students with topics focused on the education of pupils on the autism spectrum. Her main research interests are:

  • Technology Enhanced Learning for children with autism;
  • social learning theory and intersubjectivity theory;
  • Evidence Based Practice in Education;
  • participatory methodologies

Students who have completed their PhDs

  • David Preece
  • Lila Kossyvaki
  • Elaine Ashbee
  • Marilena Mademtzi
  • Becky Wood
  • Geoff Fitzpatrick

Current doctoral students


An overview of some of her research may be found on the webpage Excellence in Autism Research and Practice

Funded Research Projects

SHARE-IT: School-Home Autism Research Environment through Intelligent Technologies, EPSRC funded, Co-Investigator, February 2013-August 2014 (£301K).

SHAPE: Shaping the future of technology use in the classroom, ESRC Follow on funding, Principal Investigator, May 2012-July 2013 (£56K).

ECHOES 2: Improving children’s social interaction through exploratory learning in a multimodal environment, EPSRC/ESRC, TLRP-TEL funded, Co-Investigator, November 2008-May 2012 (£1.2M).

AUTISM EDUCATIONAL SCOPING STUDY: ‘Research mapping educational provision in the field of ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorders) in the UK: identifying the challenges in ensuring good educational outcomes for children and young people and giving examples of good practice in the field’, Funder: Autism Education Trust, Co-Investigator, 2008 (£80K).

AUTISM INTERNATIONAL LITERATURE REVIEW: ‘International review of the literature of evidence of best practice provision in the education of persons on the autism spectrum’, Funder: National Council for Special Education, Co-Investigator, 2009 (£35K).

AUTISM OUTCOMES STUDY: ‘Educational provision and outcomes for people on the autism spectrum’, Funder: Autism Education Trust, Co-Investigator, 2011(£80K).

Funded Knowledge Exchange Projects

NATIONAL ONLINE RESOURCE FOR PRIMARY CARE PRACTITIONERS AND GPS Principal Investigator, 2006, updated 2009. Funder: National Education Scotland (£38K).

THE EARLY YEARS INCLUSION DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME IN AUTISM: Principal Investigator, 2009, Funder: Department for Children Schools and Families (£50K).

THE DEVELOPMENT OF NATIONAL TRAINING MATERIALS AT THREE LEVELS FOR SCHOOL STAFF, funded by Department of Education and commissioned by the Autism Education Trust, Principal Investigator, 2011-2012 (£104,000).

Other activities

  • PGR Lead in Disability, Inclusion and Special Needs Department
  • Peer reviewer for a range of academic journals, including British Journal of Special Education, Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders; Child Language Teaching and Therapy, Educational Review, The International Journal of Learning Technology; Autism.
  • Reviewer for a number of funders, inlcuding ESRC and Leverhulme. 
  • External Examiner for doctoral candidates at Exeter and St Patricks College, Dublin
  • External examiner for Postgraduate Certificate of Education, St Patrick’s College, Dublin
  • Editorial Board member for the Journal of Assistive Technologies


Recent publications


Douglas, G, Travers, J, McLinden, M, Robertson, C, Smith, E, MacNab, N, Powers, S, Guldberg, K, McGough, A, O'Donnell, M & Lacey, P 2012, Measuring Educational Engagement, Progress and Outcomes for Children with Special Educational Needs: A Review. National Council for Special Education (NCSE), Ireland. <>


Papoudi, D, Jørgensen, CR, Guldberg, K & Meadan, H 2020, 'Perceptions, Experiences, and Needs of Parents of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Children with Autism: a Scoping Review', Review Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.

Guldberg, K, Achtypi, A, D'Alonzo, L, Laskaridou, K, Milton, D, Molteni, P & Wood, R 2019, 'Using the value creation framework to capture knowledge co-creation and pathways to impact in a transnational community of practice in autism education', International Journal of Research and Method in Education , pp. 1-16.

Porayska-Pomsta, K, Alcorn, AM, Avramides , K, Beale, S, Bernardini, S, Foster, ME, Frauenberger, C, Guldberg, K, Good, J, Keay-Bright, W, Kossyvaki, L, Lemon, O, Mademtzi, M, Menzies, R, Pain, H, Rajendran, G, Waller, A, Wass, S & Smith, TJ 2018, 'Blending human and artificial intelligence to support Autistic children’s social communication skills', ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction, vol. 25, no. 6, 35.

Guldberg, K, Parsons, S, Porayska-Pomsta, K & Keay-Bright, W 2017, 'Challenging the knowledge transfer orthodoxy: knowledge co-construction in technology enhanced learning for children with autism', British Educational Research Journal, vol. 43, no. 2, pp. 394-413.

Mengoni, S, Irvine, K, Thakur, D, Barton, G, Dautenhahn, K, Guldberg, K, Robins, B, Wellsted, D & Sharma, S 2017, 'Feasibility study of a randomised controlled trial to investigate the effectiveness of using a humanoid robot to improve the social skills of children with autism spectrum disorder (Kaspar RCT): a study protocol', BMJ open, vol. 7, no. 6, pp. 1-10.

Ashbee, E & Guldberg, K 2017, 'Using a 'collaborative contextual enquiry' methodology for understanding inclusion for autistic pupils in Palestine', Educational Review, pp. 1-19.

Guldberg, K 2016, 'Evidence-based practice in autism educational research: can we bridge the research and practice gap?', Oxford Review of Education, vol. 43, no. 2, pp. 149-161.

Guldberg, K, Parsons, S, Porayska-Pomsta, K & Lee, R 2015, 'Digital Stories as a method for evidence-based practice and knowledge co-creation in technology-enhanced learning for children with autism', International Journal of Research and Method in Education , vol. 38, no. 3, pp. 247-271.

Guldberg, K, Molteni, P & Logan, N 2013, 'Autism and multidisciplinary teamwork through the SCERTS model', British Journal of Special Education, vol. 40, no. 3, pp. 03-149.

Guldberg, K, Mackness, J, Makriyannis, E & Tait, C 2013, 'Knowledge management and value creation in a third sector organisation', Knowledge and Process Management, vol. 20, no. 3, pp. 113-122.

Porayska-Pomsta, K, Frauenberger, C, Rajendran, T, Smith, T, Pain, H, Menzies, R, Foster, M & Guldberg, K 2012, 'Developing technology for autism needs an interdisciplinary approach', Journal of Personal and Ubiquitous Computing.


Guldberg, K 2017, Enhancing the impact of research and knowledge co-production in Higher Education through communities of practice. in Communities of practice: Facilitating social learning in Higher Education. Springer.

Conference contribution

Porayska-Pomsta, K, Anderson, K, Bernardini, S, Guldberg, K, Smith, T, Kossyvaki, L, Hodgins, S & Lowe, I 2013, Building an intelligent authorable serious game for autistic children and their carers. in D Reidsma, H Katayose & A Nijholt (eds), Advances in Computer Entertainment: 10th International Conference, ACE 2013 Boekelo, he Netherlands, November 2013 Proceedings. Lecture Notes in Computer Science (LNCS), vol. 8253, Springer, pp. 456-475.


Guldberg, K, Ashbee, E, Kossyvaki, L, Bradley, R & Basulayyim, A 2017, 'Meeting the needs of pupils with autism in Qatar: moving forward', 8th World Innovation Summit for Education, Doha, Qatar, 14/11/17 - 16/11/17 pp. 1-82.

View all publications in research portal


Karen’s research is in the areas of Technology Enhanced Learning for children with autism; the training needs of practitioners in the field of autism and on notions of 'good autism practice'.