photo of Kayla Johnson

Kayla Johnson, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor
Department of Educational Policy Studies and Evaluation
145D Taylor Education Building

Dr. Kayla Johnson joined EPE in the Fall of 2020. In her research, she uses visual, student voice, action, and community-engaged methods to explore issues related to learning, development, and social justice in higher and international education. Dr. Johnson’s research has been supported by $180k+ in research grants. Her most recent grant-funded projects explored: 1) the impact of Covid-19 on teaching and learning opportunities for Indigenous youth in the Peruvian Andes, 2) the impact of international community engagement and service learning programs on developing students as global change agents; 3) the influence of access to postsecondary education on the identity development of rural first-generation Indigenous students; and 4) collaboratively developing culturally-grounded e-learning opportunities with rural Indigenous communities.

Dr. Johnson is actively involved in her scholarly communities and serves in leadership roles for the Association for the Study of Higher Education’s Council for International Higher Education and the Comparative and International Education Society’s Higher Education SIG. In 2016, she co-founded Centro Educativo Pallata Ayllu (Pallata Community Education Center), a non-governmental organization that facilitates access to culturally-grounded and community-driven educational opportunities for Indigenous children and adults in the Peruvian Andes. She serves on the editorial boards of the American Journal of Education and the Journal of International Students (where she was awarded the 2021 Distinguished Service Award).

A first-generation college student, Dr. Johnson earned a dual-title PhD in Higher Education and Comparative & International Education from the Pennsylvania State University, an MS in Higher Education from UK, and BAs in English, French, and Secondary Education from Marshall University. Prior to coming to UK, Dr. Johnson was a Visiting Assistant Professor of Higher Education at the University of Cincinnati, a Postdoctoral Scholar at McGill University (Canada), and an Instructor of Higher Education at Penn State. She has also worked with UK Transformative Learning, International Student and Scholar Services, and Education Abroad.

Originally from the Appalachian region, Dr. Johnson is excited to return “home.” She is an avid coffee drinker, a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, a cat lover, a proud Slytherin, and an escape room extraordinaire.

Vita (PDF)

Research: Higher Education, International Education, Qualitative Methodology, Curriculum Design, Diversity in Education, Educational Leadership, Social Justice