Sharon Friesen

Dr. Sharon Friesen, PhD

Pronouns: she/her



Werklund School of Education, Specialization, Leadership

Contact information

Phone number

Office: 403.220.2488


Office: EDT936


Educational Background

Doctor of Philosophy Philosophy, University of Calgary, 2000

M.Ed. Curriculum, University of Calgary, 1991

Bach of Education University of Calgary, 1986

Permanent Professional Teaching Certificate (Alberta) Professional Qualification, 1986


Dr. Sharon Friesen is a Professor at the Werklund School of Education at the University of Calgary. Her research interests include the ways in which K-12 educational structures, curriculum and learning need to be reinvented for a knowledge/learning society. Her research focuses on: (i) the promotion of deep intellectual engagement, (ii) the ability to create and lead 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 for more than 20 years from within the work of the Galileo Educational Network which she co-founded. She has co-authored five books.  Sharon has received numerous awards, for her research and teaching practice. 

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 with 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 honoured to have served the Werklund School of Education as Vice Dean, Associate Dean Graduate Programs in Education, and Associate Dean Professional and Community Engagement.  

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


Areas of Research

Contemporary Learning Environments, Educational Leadership, Educational Reform
  1. PI.  of Optimum Learning for all Students: Implementing Alberta's 2018 Professional Practice Standards. This four-year longitudinal mixed methods study is funded by Alberta Education. This study studies the implementation of Alberta's 2018, professional practice standards asking the key question, "How are the standards being implemented to yield optimal learning outcomes for students? 
  2. CO-PI. Student-on-student violence in Alberta's public and separate schools from the perspective of school teachers.  
  3. CO-PI. Online supervision of doctoral students. This case study focuses on professors’ and doctoral students’ experiences with online supervision relationships in the context of field-focused, doctoral research as part of a blended education doctorate (EdD) program in the Werklund School of Education.
  4. PI. Blended learning program, Keebo, at Connect Charter School.
  5. Collaborator. An exploration of the Systems and Societal Norms that Contribute to the Marginalization of Youth. SSHRC

Many of the studies Dr. Friesen undertakes are longitudinal, employing design-based research methodologies. Topics of longitudinal studies include professional learning, designing and leading contemporary learning environments and organizations, technology-rich participatory learning environments, complex pedagogies, and intellectual engagement. Since 1989, her primary research interest consists of investigating the ways contemporary learning environments might be designed and led to sponsor deep intellectual engagement in students, with a particular focus on teaching and leadership practices. This focus emerged from a close attunement and attentiveness to 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, learning, and leading within the contexts of an educative community; and that asks hard questions about both the traditional and progressive legacies, a legacy that scholar Larry Cuban calls the "grammar of schooling."

Participation in university strategic initiatives


Course number Course title Semester
EDUC 55602 SEC 02 S02 Professional Development and Lifelong Learning Winter 2021
EDER 708 Collaboratory of Practice II Winter 2021
EDER 619.22 Leading Student Learning Summer 2021
EDER 719.14 Advanced Studies in Educational Leadership Summer 2021
EDUC 556.02 Professional Development and Lifelong Learning Winter 2022
EDUC 556.04 Professional Development and Lifelong Learning Winter 2022
EDER 709 Collaboratory of Practice II Winter 2022
EDUC 556.02 Professional Development and Lifelong Learning Winter 2022
EDUC 556.04 Professional Development and Lifelong Learning 2022
EDER 708 L03 Collaboratory II - Research Methodology Winter 2022


  • Leadership in Education Award, 2013
  • Distinguished Lecturer, 2011
  • Distinguished Research Lecture Award, Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary. 2011
  • U Make a Difference Award, 2011
  • Nominated: Student's Union Teaching Excellence Award, 2010
  • Calgary Educational Partnership Foundation Special Settings Award, 2009
  • The Calgary Stampede Western Legacy Award for Innovation, 2009
  • Teaching Excellence Nomination, 2008
  • Teaching Excellence Nomination - Graduate Students, 2008
  • Calgary Stampede Innovation Award, 2007
  • Mathematics Educator Award for activism in improving mathematics education across western Canada., University of British Columbia. 2007
  • Pacific Institute for the Mathematical Sciences Education prize, 2007
  • 2006 AERA Division B Outstanding Book Award for Back to the Basics of Teaching and Learning, 2006
  • AERA Division B Outstanding Book award, 2005
  • Canadian E-Content Award for Education, 2004
  • Conference Board of Canada Partnership National Partnerships Award, 2000
  • Prime Minister's Award for Teaching Excellence, 1999
  • Prime Minister's Award for Teaching Excellence, 1999
  • The Alberta Teachers' Association Research Award, 1999
  • Aoki Award for research work in the area of curriculum that most embraced the work and vision of Dr. Ted Aoki, 1997
  • ASCD - Celebrating Educational Success in Alberta, 1996
  • Awarded, Teacher Explorer Centre in Robotics, 1995
  • National Institute Award - Nortel, 1995
  • Nomination, Alberta Excellence in Teaching Award, 1992
  • ARCH Award Career Achievement University of Calgary Alumni, University of Calgary. 2021
  • Outstanding Graduate Supervision Award, Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary. 2021


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