University of Calgary

Sharon Friesen

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

Currently Teaching

Not currently teaching any courses.


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 five books.  Sharon has received numerous awards, for her research and teaching practice. 

Research & Scholarly Activity

Dr. Friesen has most recently completed several funded studies including Teacher Growth, Supervision, and Evaluation in Alberta.  She is currently a co-investigator on a SSHRC Research Grant - Changing Cultures of Mathematics Teaching and an Alberta Education funded research grant - Optimum Learning.    Many of the studies she undertakes are longitudinal, employing design-based research methodologies in which ideas from the learning sciences figure 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 and optimal learning occur within contemporary learning environments with intrinsic and autonomous types of extrinsic motivation.  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
  • Optimum Learning


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 Vice Dean, Associate Dean Graduate Programs in Education, and Associate Dean Professional and Community Engagment.  

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



Adams, P., Marmbourquette, C., Brandon, J., Hunter, D., Friesen, S., Koh, K., Parsons, D. & Stelmach, B.  (2018).  A study of teacher growth, supervision, and evaluation in Alberta: Policy and perception.  Journal of Educational Supervision, 1(2), 1-16 DOI:

Davis, B., Towers, J., Chapman, O., Drefs, M., & Friesen, S. (2019).  Exploring the relationship between mathematics teachers’ implicit associations and enacted practices.  Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education, 22(109), (pp. 1-22).

Francis, K. Friesen, S., Brown, B., & Preciado Babb, P. (in press).  Extending the meaning of numbers through elementary teacher professional learning.  International Journal of Science and Mathematics 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.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

Davis, B., Towers, J., Karpe, R., Drefs, M., Chapman, O., & Friesen, S. (2018). Steps toward a more inclusive mathematics pedagogy.  In A. Kajander, J. Holm, and E. Chernoff (Eds). Teaching and learning secondary school mathematics: Canadian perspectives in an international context. (pp. 89-99).  Springer, Cham.


Davis, B., Francis, K. & Friesen, S. (2019).  STEM Education by Design: Opening Horizons of Possibility.  New York, NY: Routledge.

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.
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