Sharon Friesen


President, Galileo Educational Network


University of Calgary


University of Calgary


University of Calgary

Contact information


Main Campus : EDT846

Research and Scholarly Activity

Research areas

  • Technology-enhanced learning environments
  • Educational reform and policy
  • Design based research
  • Educational leadership
  • Mathematics teaching and learning
  • Teacher learning and professional development
  • Academic and intellectual engagement


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 Project:

  • Optimum Learning: A Longitudinal Mixed Methods Research Study into the implementation of Alberta's 2018 Professional Practice Standards.


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. 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 for mor 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 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. 


Selected Publications


  • 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:
  • Chan, C., Lai, K-W., Allaire, S., Bielaczyc, K., Bereiter, C., Friesen, S., Ma, L., Massey, L., McAuley, S., Millwood, R., Philip, D., Reeve, R., Scardamalia, M., Tan, S. (2019).  Knowledge building/knowledge creation in the school, classroom, and beyond.  TWG13 Working Paper, EDUsummIT2019 International Summit on ICT in Education, Laval University, Quebec City, QC, Sept 28 - Oct 2.  Available:
  • 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).
  • 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.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.
  • Friesen, S. & Brown, B. (2019).  What is optimum learning?  In B. Stelmach, P. Adams & J. Brandon (Eds.).  A literature synthesis: Optimum learning for all students.  (pp. 10-27).
  • Friesen, S. & Jacobsen, M. (in press).  The education system of Canada: Foundations of the Canadian education system. In S. Jornitz & M. Parreira do Amaral (Eds.), Global Education Systems: The Education Systems of the Americas.  Springer.
  • Parsons, D., Brandon, J., Friesen, S., & Jacobsen, M.  (2019).   The superintendency: The cost of making a difference—The personal toll.   In M. Mountford & L. Wallace (Eds.).  The Contemporary Superintendent: (R)Evolutionary Leadership in an Era of Reform. (pp. 219-245).  Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.


  • 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


  • Brandon, J., Friesen, S., Saar, C. (2020). Conceptualizng and enacting overall instructional leadership in the Alberta context. In S. Friesen, J. Brandon, & M. Jacobsen (Eds.). Selected Proceedings of the IDEAS Conference: Transforming Pedagogies, pp. 57-76. Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary.
  • Friesen, S., Brandon, J., & Jacobsen, M. (Eds.) (2020). Selected proceedings of the IDEAS Conference 2019: Transforming pedagogies – Learn - Design – Innovate. Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary.
  • Friesen, S., Brandon, J., & Jacobsen, M. (2020). Transforming pedagogies. In S. Friesen, J. Brandon, & M. Jacobsen (Eds.). Selected Proceedings of the IDEAS Conference: Transforming Pedagogies, pp. 1-6. Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary.
  • Preciado Babb, P., Francis, K., Mosher, R., Friesen, S. (2020). Transforming conceptions of number for the learning of students, teachers, and an educational system. In S. Friesen, J. Brandon, & M. Jacobsen (Eds.). Selected Proceedings of the IDEAS Conference: Transforming Pedagogies, pp. 17-22. Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary.
  • Thomas, C., Jorgenson-Adam, S., Brandon, J., Marler, R., Turner, J. & Friesen, S. (2020). Leading collaborative professional learning for school systems. In S. Friesen, J. Brandon, & M. Jacobsen (Eds.). Selected Proceedings of the IDEAS Conference: Transforming Pedagogies, pp. 51-56. Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary.

Research Reports:

  • Brandon, J., Friesen, S., Koh, K., Parsons, D., Adams, P., Mombourquette, C., Stelmach, B., & Hunter, D. (2018).    Building, supporting, and assuring quality professional practice: A research study of teacher growth, supervision and evaluation in Alberta.  Report to Alberta Education. 246 pages.
  • Friesen, S. (2020). The impact of Calgary Board of Education district led professional development and professional learning on student learning, teachers’ practice, and leaders’ practice during the 2018-2019 school year.  A Research Report for Calgary Board of Education.  71 pages.
  • Thomas, C., Turner, J., Brandon, J., & Friesen, S. (2018).  Building leadership capacity through high quality professional learning.  Report prepared for Battle River School Division. (25 pages) Retrieved from

Invited Keynote Address:

  • 2019  Sustaining Innovation Through Research-Practice PartnershipsProvincial meeting of the Alberta Research Network, Alberta Education, Edmonton, Alberta, October 16.
  • 2019  Teacher as Designer. Sturgeon School Division Opening. Sturgeon Composite High School, Sturgeon County, Alberta, October 11.
  • 2019  Beyond Google: In the presence of powerful ideas.  Lay Out—Let Out, Konferencja Pokazac – Przekazac, Warsaw, Poland, August 23-25. 
  • 2019  Teacher as Designer. Developing Educators for Leadership in Schools, Kappa Delta Pi 2019 Internatinal Research Conference, Calgary, AB, July 18-20.
  • 2019  Designers of Learning. IDEAS Conference, Calgary, AB., July 3-5.  

Journal Articles - Peer Reviewed

Scott, DavidSmith, CameronChu, Man-Wai and Friesen, Sharon. "Examining the Efficacy of Inquiry-based Approaches to Education". Alberta Journal of Educational Research 64.1 (2018): 35-54. Print.


Media Work

  • Future of Schooling.  Calgary Herald.  February 19, 2020.
  • 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.


  • 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.