University of Calgary

Sharon Friesen

  • Professor
  • President, Galileo Educational Network - Galileo Educational Network (GEN)


Dr. Sharon Friesen is a Professor at the Werklund School of Education at the University of Calgary.  She is also the President of the Galileo Educational Network.  Her research interests include the ways in which K-12 educational structures, curriculum and learning need to be reinvented for a knowledge/learning society.   She draws upon the learning sciences to study: (i) the promotion of deep intellectual engagement, (ii) the ability to create learning environments that require sustained work with ideas (iii) the pervasiveness of networked digital technologies that open up new ways of knowing, leading, teaching, working and living in the world.  Her experience as a teacher includes kindergarten, elementary, junior high and high school. From the outset she has systematically created, studied and published first from within her own classrooms (K – Graduate students) and more recently from within the work of the Galileo Educational Network which she co-founded and from where she, along with a team of consultants, support teachers, and school and district leaders. She has co-authored four books.  Sharon has received numerous awards, for her research and teaching practice. 

Research & Scholarly Activity

Dr. Friesen has most recently completed several funded studies for Alberta Education: Highly Adapative Learning Systems: Research in Seven Redesigned High Schools in Alberta.  She is currently a co-investigator on a SSHRC Research Grant - Changing Cultures of Mathematics Teaching.    Many of the studies she undertakes are longitudinal, employing design-based research methodologies in which ideas from the learning sciences figured prominently. Building upon previous studies, these longitudinal studies examine leading contemporary learning environments, designing new learning systems, deep learning, technology-rich participatory learning environments, complex pedagogies and intellectual engagement in learning. Since 1989, her primary research interest consists of investigating the ways in which intellectual engagement emerges within contemporary learning environments.  This focus emerged from a close attunement and attentiveness ot the lived experience of teachers and students; an attunement that understands intellectual growth as more than an interior, private, individual matter of unfolding development; that situates teaching and learning within the contexts of an educative community; and that asks hard questions about both the traditional and progressive legacies that are translated into practice within classrooms.

Current Projects:

  • Changing Cultures of Mathematics Teaching
  • Teacher Growth Supervision and Evaluation Policy Study


University of Calgary

University of Calgary

University of Calgary

Professional & Community Affiliations

Service and leadership are a significant part of Dr. Friesen's academic life.  While service and leadership are part of the obligations all academics must provide to sustain a research culture within a research university, the lines between research and scholarship, teaching and learning and service and leadership tend to blur in a digitally networked world.

In 1999, Dr. Friesen co-‐founded Galileo Educational Network ( in the Werklund School of Education at the University of Calgary.  This provincial, national and international network was built from the understanding that changes in education needed to be systemic and sustained, and that all educational stakeholders needed to be involved in growing the changes that were required for contemporary learning environments.

Dr. Friesen is honored to have served as Associate Dean, Professional and Community Engagment.  Through this work, she had the opportunity to work alongside a colleague and nine senior school leaders to create Partner Research Schools, a dynamic collaboration among schools, communities, and universities leading innovation through research-­active inquiry and practice. This led to a signed a memorandum of agreement with nine school authorities and the Werklund School of Education formalizing its commitment to ensure that Alberta schools and school authorities have opportunities to develop research initiatives in partnership with the University of Calgary, other school authorities and the greater community.  

Dr. Sharon Friesen continues to offers her expertise to a variety of government and non-government organizations across Canada and internationally. 



Davis, B., Towers, J., Chapman, O., Takeuchi, M., Drefs, M., & Friesen, S. (in press). Using the metaphor of second-language learning to inform school mathematics reform. Manuscript accepted for the Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education.

Francis, K., Jacobsen, M., & Friesen, S. (2014). The use of graphics to communicate findings of longitudinal data in design-based research. Journal of Information Technology Education: Research, 13, 233-255. Retrieved from 

Jacobsen, M., Friesen, S., & Brown, B. (2017). Teachers’ Professional Learning Focused on Designs for Early Learners and Technology.  In D. Polly, T. Petty, & A. Good (Eds). Handbook of Research on Innovative Practices in Teacher Preparation and Graduate-Level Teacher Education Programs pp. 417-438). Hershey, PA: IGI Global.  


Preciado Babb, A, Saar, C., Brandon, J., & Friesen, S. (2015).  Engaging high school students in an engineering thermodynamics project.  International Journal of Engineering Pedagogy, 5(1), 12-19.

Preciado Babb, A., Saar, C., Marcotte, C., Brandon, J., & Friesen, S. (2013).  Using mobile technology for fostering intellectual engagement.  International Journal of Interactive Mobile Technologies, 7(3), 46-53.

Preciado Babb, A.P., Takeuchi, M.A., Alonso-Yáñez, G., Francis, K., Gereluk, D., & Friesen, S. (2016). Pioneering STEM education for pre-service teachers. International Journal of Engineering Pedagogy, 6(4), 4-11 doi: 10.3991/ijep.v6i4.5965


Brandon, J., Friesen, S., Gereluk, D. & Nickel, J. (2016).  Cultivating essential teaching capacities through research informed and adaptive teacher education.  In L. Thomas and M Hirschkorn (Eds), What Should Canada’s Teachers Know? Teacher Capacities: Knowledge, Beliefs and Skills

Friesen, S. (2015).  Assessment for learning in a math classroom.  In S. Scott, D. Scott & C. Webber, (Eds), Leadership of assessment, inclusion, and learning.  New York, NY: Springer.

Lock, J.V. & Friesen, S. (2015).  Twenty-first-century learning and student diversity.  In J. W. Andrews & J. L. Lupart (Eds.) Diversity education: Understanding and addressing student diversity.  Toronto, ON: Nelson.


Friesen, S., Saar, C., Park, A.,  Marcotte, C., Hampshire, T., Martin, B., Brown, B., & Martin, J. (2015).  Focus on Inquiry.  Calgary, AB.: Galileo Educational Network.  Focus on Inquiry


  • Awarded, Leadership Award, Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary.
  • Awarded, Distinguished Lecture, Faculty of Education, University of Calgary. I Hold In My Hand A Bird: Intellectual Engagement.
  • Awarded, Special Settings Category, Calgary Educational Partnerships Foundation Special Settings Award by the Calgary Educational Partnerships Foundation.
  • Awarded, Pacific Institute of Mathematical Sciences (PIMS) Mathematics Educator Award for activism in improving mathematics education across western Canada.
  • Awarded, AERA Division B Outstanding Book award for Back to the basics of teaching and learning: Thinking the world together. This award recognizes scholars whose books have made a vital contribution to Curriculum Studies.
  • Awarded, Prime Minister's Award for Teaching Excellence.

Media Work

  • Inquiry-based Learning and PISA.  An interview for Alberta Primetime Broadcast, July 2015.
  • Inquiry-based Learning.  EdTechLens Newsletter, April 2015.
  • Curriculum Redesign in Alberta.  Alberta Views Magazine, September 2014.
Photograph of Sharon Friesen
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