Kathy E. Johnson, Ph.D.

Executive Vice Chancellor, Chief Academic Officer, Professor

University Hall 5002
(317) 274-4500


My area of specialty is Cognitive Developmental Psychology. My research interests include lexical and conceptual development in infancy, development of symbolic understanding and intense interests and expertise in children. I also am very interested in student development and predictors of success and persistence among undergraduates. I no longer have a laboratory in the Psychology Department and am not able to supervise students at this time.

Research Areas

  • Developmental/Cognitive


  • 1992 Ph.D. Psychology - Cognition and Development, Emory University
  • 1989 M.S. Developmental Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  • 1987 B.S. Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

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Publications & Professional Activity

Johnson, K. E., Alexander, J. M., Spencer, S., Leibham, M. E., & Neitzel, C. (2004). Factors associated with the early emergence of intense interests within conceptual domains. Cognitive Development, 19, 325-343.

Johnson, K. E., Younger, B. A., & Furrer, S. D. (2005). Infants’ symbolic comprehension of actions modeled with toy replicas. Developmental Science

Leibham, M. E., Alexander, J.M., Johnson, K. E., Neitzel, C., & Reis-Henrie, F. (2005). Parenting behaviors associated with early intense interests in domains related to science. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 26, 397-414.

Johnson, K. E., Younger, B. A., & Cuellar, R. (2005). Toddlers' understanding of iconic models: Cross-task analysis of selection and preferential looking responses. Infancy, 8, 189-200.

Alexander, J. M., Johnson, K. E., Albano, J., Freygang, T., & Scott, B. (2006). Relations between intelligence and the development of metaconceptual knowledge. Metacognition and Learning, 1, 51-67.

Younger, B. A., & Johnson, K. E. (2006). Infants’ developing appreciation of similarities between model objects and their real world referents. Child Development, 77, 1680-1697.

Unverzagt, F. W., Kasten, L., Johnson, K. E., Rebok, G. W., Marsiske, M., Koepke, K. M., Elias, J. W., Morris, J. N., Willis, S. L., Ball, K., Rexroth, D. F., Smith, D. M., Wolinsky, F. D., Stoddard, A., & Tennstedt, S. L. (2007). Effect of memory impairment on training outcomes in ACTIVE. Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, 13(6). 953-960.

Alexander, J. M., Johnson, K. E., & Leibham, M. E. (2008). The development of conceptual interests in young children. Cognitive Development, 23, 324-334.

Neitzel, C., Alexander, J. M., & Johnson, K. E. (2008). Children’s early interest based activities in the home and subsequent information contributions and pursuits in kindergarten. Journal of Educational Psychology, 100, 782-797.

Woodrome, S. E., & Johnson, K. E. (2009). The role of visual discrimination in the learning-to-read process. Reading and Writing, 22,117-131.

Tucker-Drob, E. M., Johnson, K. E., & Jones, R. N. (2009). The Cognitive Reserve Hypothesis: A longitudinal examination of age-associated declines in reasoning and processing speed. Developmental Psychology, 45, 431-446.

Alexander, J. M., Johnson, K. E., & Kelley, K. (2012). Longitudinal Analysis of the Relations between Opportunities to Learn about Science and the Development of Interests Related to Science. Science Education, 96, 763-786.

Evenbeck, S., & Johnson, K. E.  (2012). Students must not become victims of the Completion Agenda. Liberal Education, 98 (1). 26-33.

Johnson, K. E. (2013). Learning Communities and the Completion Agenda. Learning Communities Research and Practice, 1(3), Article 3. Available at: http://washingtoncenter.evergreen.edu/lcrpjournal/vol1/iss3/3

Leibham, M. E., Alexander, J. M., & Johnson, K. E. (2013). Science interests in preschool boys and girls: Relations to later self-concept and science achievement. Science Education, 97(4), 574-593.

Katzenstein, J. M., LeJeune, B. C., & Johnson, K. E. (2016). The role of parenting and family factors in the developmental catch-up for children adopted internationally. Adoption Quarterly, 19(3), pp. 224-236.


  • Association of American Colleges and Universities
  • Society for Research in Child Development


  • 2007 Faculty Fellow, Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, IUPUI
  • 2007 Indiana University Leadership Development Program Fellow
  • 2002, 2006 Trustees Teaching Award, IUPUI
  • 2003 Outstanding Female Faculty Leader Award, IUPUI
  • 2002 Indiana University FACET Award (Faculty Colloquium on Excellence in Teaching)