Krista Francis

Associate Professor


University of Calgary


Athabasca Univesity

BSC - Geology

University of Alberta

Contact information


Office: 403.220.7338

Web presence



Main Campus : EDT808

Research and Scholarly Activity

Research areas

  • Collaborative design of rich mathematical tasks
  • Learning sciences
  • Mathematical problem solving
  • Mathematics education
  • Mathematics teaching and learning
  • Qualitative research using video
  • STEM pedagogy
  • Technology-enhanced learning environments


Dr. Francis’ research focuses on the emergent praxis of teaching and learning mathematics, drawing on embodiment discourses of enactivsm, spatial reasoning, and conceptual metaphor theory. 

Current Projects:

  • The intersection of math, spatial reasoning, and robotics programming: an emergent, multi-faceted study on how children learn through STEM education (SSHRC Insight Development Grant)
  • Discourses on learning in education (
  • Metaphors of learning in different languages (


Dr. Krista Francis, PhD (Calgary) is an Associate Professor in Educational Studies in the Learning Sciences. Dr Francis' research focusses on the conscious and critical application of theory in the teaching and learning of mathematics and STEM. Her research takes her into classrooms to engage with children in mathematics (and robotics) learning. More recently, her research is provoked by questioning what it means to learn and how how learning happens. Dr. Francis teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses at Werklund. She supervises graduate students in the Learning Sciences as well as serves on graduate supervisory committees. Dr. Francis also collaborates with teachers in designing professional learning of mathematics and technology. 

Professional & Community Affiliations

Dr. Francis’ interest in teacher professional learning of mathematics has lead her to collaborate with University of Calgary Partner Research Schools, including the Calgary Science School and Westmount Charter.  She is a member of National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), Canadian Mathematics Educators Study Group (CMESG). Canadian Society for the Study of Education (CSSE), ASCD (formerly Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development), AECT – Association for Educational Communications and Technology and American Educational Research Association (AERA).


Refereed Journal Articles 

  • Nicol, C., Nolan, K., Glanfield, F., & Francis, K., (2020). Introduction to the Special Issue on Re-Imagining the M in STEM: Mathematics actions for innovative, resilient and culturally rich communities. Canadian Journal of Science, Mathematics and Technology Education, 20(2). 
  •  Nicol, C., Gerofsky, S., Nolan, K., Francis, K. & Fritzlan, A. (2020). Teacher professional learning with/in Place. Canadian Journal of Science, Mathematics and Technology Education 20(2).
  • Francis, K. (2019). Play and mathematics. Journal of the Canadian Association for Curriculum Studies 17(1), 75-89.
  • Francis, K., & Davis, B. (2018). Coding robots as a source of instantiations for arithmetic. Digital Experiences of Mathematics 4(2-3), 71-86. https:/10.1007/s40751-018-0042-7 
  • Francis, K., Bruce, C. Davis, B., Drefs, M., Hallowell, D., Hawes, Z., McGarvey, L., Moss, J., Mulligan, J., Okamoto, Y., Sinclair, N., Whiteley, W., & Woolcott., G., (2017). Multidisciplinary perspectives on a video case of children designing and coding for robotics. Canadian Journal of Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education, 17(3), 165-178. 
  • Francis, K. & *Poscente, M. (2016). Building number sense with LegoTM robots. Teaching Children Mathematics 23(5). 
  • Bruce, C. D., Davis, B., Sinclair, N., Hallowell, D., Drefs, M., Francis, K., *Hawes, Z., McGarvey, L., Moss, J., Mulligan, J., Okamoto, Y., Whiteley, W., & Woolcott, G. (2017). Understanding gaps in research networks: using “spatial reasoning” as a window into the importance of networked educational research. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 95(2), 143-161.  
  • Preciado Babb, A.P., Takeuchi, M, Gereluk, D., Alonso Yáñez G., Francis, K., Friesen, S. (2016). Pioneering STEM education for pre-service teachers. International Journal of Engineering Pedagogy 6(4), 4-11. 
  • Shanahan, M. C., Burke, C. A., & Francis, K. (2016). Using a boundary object perspective to reconsider the meaning of STEM in a Canadian context. Canadian Journal of Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education 16(2). Available: 
  • Francis, K., Khan, S., & Davis, B. (2016). Enactivism, spatial reasoning and coding. Digital Experiences in Mathematics Education 2(1). Available:
  • 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. 13, 233-255. Retrieved from  
  • Khan, S., Francis, K., & Davis, B. (2014). Accumulation of experience in a vast number of cases: enactivism as a fit framework for the study of spatial reasoning in mathematics education. ZDM: The International Journal on Mathematics Education 47(2), 269-279. doi:10.1007/s11858-014-0623-x. 

Books and edited Special issue Journals 

  • Nicol, C., Francis, K., Glanfield, F. & Nowlan, K. (2020). Re-imagining the M in STEM: Mathematical Actions for Innovative, Resilient, and Culturally Rich Communities. Special Issue of Canadian Journal of Science, Mathematics and Technology Education 20(2). 
  • Davis, B., Francis, K., & Friesen, S. (2019). STEM education by design: Opening horizons of possibility. New York: Routledge.
  • Solares Rojas, A., Preciado Babb, P., & Francis, K. (Eds.). (2014). What, How and Why: An international conversation on mathematics teacher learning. Mexico City, Mexico: Universidad Pedagogica Nacional. 

Book Chapters

  • Francis, K. & Khan, S. (accepted). Syntonic Appropriation for Growth in Mathematical Understanding: An Argument for Curated Robotics Experiences. In Danesi M., Dragana, M., & Costa, S. (Eds.) Math (Education) in the Information Age. Springer.

Refereed Conference Proceedings

  • Francis, K., *Rothschuh, S., , *Poscente, D., & Davis, B. (accepted/in press) Leveraging growth in mathematical understanding and spatial reasoning with programming robots. In the Proceedings of the 42nd Annual Meeting of the North American Chapter of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education (PME-NA 42). PME.
  • Francis, K., *Rothschuh, S. & Davis, B. (accepted/in press) Video analysis of children’s number development when programming a robot. Proceedings of the 42nd Annual Meeting of the North American Chapter of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education (PME-NA 42). PME.
  • Thom, J., Nicol, C., Fritzlan, A., Francis, K., Glanfield, F., & Ghostkeeper, E. (COVID – postponed/accepted). Re-Storying the M in STEM: How Mathematics Education Might/Can Shape STEM in STEM Education. In the Proceedings of the 2020 STEM in Education Conference. Vancouver, B.C. 
  • Francis, K, Friesen, S., Takeuchi, M, Preciado Babb, A.P., & Brown, B. (COVID – postponed/2021, July). Elementary teacher professional learning to explore and extend meaning of number. In the proceedings of the 2020 International Congress on Mathematical Education. Shanghai, China [Alberta Education Grant]. 
  • Francis, K., Caron, F. & Khan, S. (2019). Report of working group: Robotics in mathematics education. In Holmes, J. Mathieru-Soucy, S., Oesterle, S. (Eds.) Proceedings of the 2018 annual meeting of the Canadian Mathematics Education Study Group. Squamish: CMESG. 
  • Francis, K. & Davis, B. (2018). Robots as mathematical objects- and actions-to-think-with. H-G Weigand, Clark-Wilson A., Donevska-Todorova, A., Faggiano, E., Grønbæk, & Trgavlova J (Eds.), Proceedings of the 5th ERME topic conference: Mathematics education in a digital age. Copenhagen, Denmark: European Research in Mathematics Education. [SSHRC IDG] 
  • Francis, K., Alonzo Yáñez, G., Chapman, O., Cherkowski, G., Dodsworth, D., Friesen, S., Gereluk, D., Knowlton Cockett, P., Preciado Babb, A. P., Shanahan, M.C., Takeuchi, M., Thomas, C., & Turner, J. (2018). Forming and transforming STEM teacher education: A follow up to pioneering STEM education. In the Proceedings of the 2018 IEEE global engineering education conference (EDUCON). Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain: IEEE. 
  • Francis, K. & Davis, B. (2017). Number, arithmetic, multiplicative thinking, and coding. Proceedings of the 10th Congress of European Research in Mathematics Education. Dublin, Ireland: European Research in Mathematics Education. 
  • Francis, K. & Davis, B., (2016). Learning Arithmetic by Programming Robots. In Wood, M. B., Turner, E. E., Civil, M., & Eli, J. A. (Eds.). Proceedings of the 38th annual meeting of the North American Chapter of the International Group for the Pyschology of Mathematics Education. Tucson, AZ: The University of Arizona. 
  • Preciado Babb, A.P.,Takeuchi, M, Gereluk, D., Alonso Yáñez, G., Francis, K., Friesen, S. (2016). Pioneering STEM Education: A Course for Pre-Service Teachers. In Proceedings of 2016 IEEE Global Engineering Education Conference (EDUCON) (pp 324-331). New York: Curran Associates. Available: