Michelle Drefs

Dr. Michelle Drefs, PhD, R Psych

Pronouns: she/her


Associate Professor

Werklund School of Education, Specialization, School and Applied Child Psychology

Contact information

Phone number

Office: 403.220.3675


Office: EDT534

I'm looking for...

Research partners

Our team is looking for research partners and students interested in studying intergenerational practices.


Educational Background

Doctor of Philosophy Human Development and Learning, University of Calgary,

M.Sc. School Psychology, University of Calgary,

B.A. / B.Ed. Early Childhood Education Specialization, University of Lethbridge,


Dr. Michelle Drefs earned her PhD in Human Development and Learning and MSc in School Psychology from the University of Calgary. She also holds a specialization in Early Childhood Education from the University of Lethbridge. Michelle has 8 years of field experience as a school psychologist, serving as an Educational Consultant with Golden Hills School Division from 1999 to 2006. From 2006 to 2012, Dr. Drefs served the as the Academic Coordinator for the online MEd in School and Applied Child Psychology program and was instrumental in its initial development; and, she also served as the Director of Training for the School and Applied Child Psychology program from 2014-2020. 

In addition to her background in school psychology, Michelle is an experienced educator with 6 years teaching experience at the kindergarten and elementary levels—with the majority of her teaching career working primarily with First Nation students. Dr. Drefs is a Registered Psychologist in Alberta.

Professional & Community Affiliations

Dr. Drefs is a member of the Standards Review Committee with the Canadian Psychological Association.


Areas of Research

Theoretical Orientations:
  • developmental
  • biopsychosocial
  • Early childhood education
  • Intergenerational studies
  • Bereavement
  • Interprofessional practice
  • Early mathematics development
  • Spatial cognition

Dr. Drefs' research focuses on early childhood populations.  Her research interests include: a) improving outcomes for early childhood and elderly populations through intergenerational programming, b) thanatology (i.e, the study of death, dying, and bereavement) with young children, and c) improving interdisciplinary practices. Her current research projects involve collaborations with professionals in the fields of education, social work, and medicine.

Prior to 2020, Dr. Drefs' primarily focused on early mathematics development, its assessment, and the role of spatial cognition.

Participation in university strategic initiatives


Course number Course title Semester
EDPS 663 School Psychology Practicum II Winter 2021



Examining the Scope of Intergenerational Programs involving Kindergarten Students (Alberta Advisory Committee for Educational Studies)

Evaluating and improving COVID-19 management practices in the kindergarten classroom (Alberta Education, Research Partnership Program)

Conformity in Diagnostic Decision-Making (SSHRC)


  • 2018 University of Calgary GREAT Supervisor Award,


  • Tapwewin: Speaking to Truth about Assessment and Indigenous Children. Schroeder, M., Bird, S., Drefs, M. A., & Zwiers, M. L . In M. A. Suzie Bisson, C. Sinclair, & I. Djuraskovic (Eds.), Ethics in action: Personal reflections from Canadian psychologists.. (2021)
  • Twelve tips for using simulation to teach about conformity behaviors in medical education. Ghazwan, A., Beran, T., Drefs, M. A., & Oddone Paolucci, E. . Medical Education . (2021)
  • Cognitive and personality correlates of academic achievement. Drefs, M. A., & Wilcox, G. . In B. J. Carducci (Editor-in-Chief) & A. Di Fabio, D. H. Saklofske, & C. Stough (Eds.), The Wiley encyclopedia of personality and individual differences, Vol. 3. John Wiley & Sons. (2020)
  • The central position of education in knowledge mobilization: Insights from network analyses of spatial reasoning research across disciplines.. Woolcott, G., Chamberlain, D., Hawes, Z., Drefs, M., Bruce, C. D., Davis, B., Francis, K., Hallowell, D., McGarvey, L., Moss, J., Mulligan, J., Okamoto, Y., Sinclair, N., & Whiteley, W.. Scientometrics. 2323-2347. (2020)
  • Comparing Math LD Diagnostic Rates Obtained using LDAC and DSM-5 Criteria: Implications for the Field. Schroeder, M., Drefs, M. A., & Zwiers, M. . Canadian Journal of School Psychology. (2020)
  • Exploring the relationship between mathematics teachers’ implicit associations and their enacted practices. David, B., Towers, J., Chapman, O., Drefs, M., & Friesen, S. . SpringerLink. (2019)
  • Steps toward a more inclusive mathematics pedagogy. Davis, B., Towers, J., Karpe, R., Drefs, M., Chapman, O., & Friesen, S. . In A. Kajander, J. Holm, E. Chernoff (Eds.), Teaching and learning secondary school mathematics. advances in mathematics education. Springer, Cham. . 89-99. (2018)
  • Multidisciplinary perspectives on a video case of children designing andcoding for robotics. 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)
  • The Messiness of LD Identification: Contributions of Diagnostic Criteria and Clinical Judgement. Schroeder, M., Drefs, M. A., Cormier, D. . Canadian Psychology, 58. 218- 227. (2017)
  • Understanding gaps in research networks: Using “spatial reasoning” as a window into the importance of networked educational research. Bruce, C. D., Davis, B., Sinclair, N., McGarvey, L., Hallowell, D., Drefs, M., Francis, K., Hawes, Z., Moss, J., Mulligan, J., Okamoto, Y, Whiteley, W., & Woolcott, G. . Educational Studies in Mathematics, 95. 1-19. (2016)
  • Canadian Innovation: A brief history of Canada’s first online school psychology graduate program. Drefs, M. A., Schroeder, M., Hiebert, B., Panayotidis, E. L., Kerr, J., & Winters, K.. Canadian Journal of School Psychology, 30(4). 288-303. (2015)
  • Legal and professional considerations on teaching psychology online in Alberta. Schroeder, M., Drefs, M. A., Cairns, S., & Donley, K.. Education & Law, 24(2). 79-94. (2015)
  • Conformity of responses among graduate student in an online environment. Beran, T. N., Drefs, M., Kaba, A., Al Baz, N., & Al Harbi, N . Internet and Higher Education, 25. 63-69. (2015)
  • Cognitive and academic profiles associated with math disabilities subtypes. Kubas, H. A., Schmid, A. D., Drefs, M. A., Poole, J. M., Holland, S., & Fiorello, C. . Learning Disabilities: A Multidisciplinary Journal, 20(1). 31-44. (2014)
  • Tracing the history of spatial cognition in mathematics. Davis, B., Drefs, M. A., & Francis, K. . In B. Davis & Spatial Reasoning Group (Eds.), Spatial reasoning in the early years: Assertions, speculations, and principles. New York: Routledge. 47-62. (2015)
  • Spatial reasoning in the early years: Assertions, speculations, and principles. Davis, B. & Spatial Reasoning Group. New York: Routledge. (2015)
  • Foundations, principles, and student diversity. Andrews, J., Drefs, M., Lupart, J., & Loreman, T. . In J. Andrews & J. Lupart (Eds.), Diversity education: Understanding and addressing student diversity in Canadian schools. Nelson.. 24-73. (2015)