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About Scholars @ Work

Scholars @ Work is an initiative from the Faculty Center for Innovation designed to showcase the incredible and innovative research and scholarship from Park faculty members around the world. In addition to faculty profiles, Scholars @ Work hosts an annual fall reception and a roundtable panel discussion every semester giving faculty across disciplines an opportunity to collaboratively discuss a topic of timely importance to the University. For more information on Scholars @ Work, visit our web page!

Dr. Andrew Johnson

Professor of Psychology

Parkville Campus, Academic Plaza, Office 267
(816) 584-6722

Scholarship Highlights from Andrew

Andrew's impressive career has included published scholarship on a wide variety of topics. Browse selected highlights from his research, and view his CV below.

Johnson, A. T. (2022). Using pixel counts to measure accuracy and confidence in representations of mental maps. Athens Journal of Sciences, 9, 1-15.

Mental imagery and cognitive maps are difficult to study because these are so subjective and not easily observable. This exploratory study uses pixel counts to measure accuracy and confidence related to mental imagery. In this study, 35 fifth grade students received an outline map of the continental United States on a standard-sized sheet of paper and were asked to write state abbreviations as large as possible, being 100% confident that the abbreviations would be within the boundary of the respective states. The response sheets were scanned. Adobe Photoshop was used to calculate pixel counts of the area of the abbreviations within and outside of the respective state boundaries. The ratio of In and Out pixel counts provided a measurement of Accuracy, while a ratio of In and Total State pixel counts provided a measurement of Confidence. More abbreviations were attempted for US states that had one or more sides present on the US outline map. The girls showed greater accuracy and higher confidence across all conditions. Similarly, there was a linear relationship between the number of reference sides and the confidence outcomes. The results provide proof of concept that pixel count measurements provide value to measuring mental imagery and spatial cognition.

Read the full article for free.

Johnson, A. (2020). Distress in the US - Parts 1 & 2. Social Explorer.

This two-part teaching module visualizes and examines mental health-related issues in the United States.

View Part 1 here.

View Part 2 here.

About Andrew

Dr. Andrew Johnson is Professor of Psychology at Park University and serves as the Director of the PEARL research laboratory. He is located at the Parkville, Missouri campus.

Andrew received his bachelor's degree in Psychology and a bachelor’s degree in Spanish at Missouri Western State University. He earned his M.S. in Experimental Psychology and Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology with emphasis in Cognition at Kansas State University. Andrew earned a Certificate of Effective College Instruction (ACUE) and a Certificate in Creativity and Innovation (SHRM).

Andrew has taught at Park University since 1997 and is based in the Psychology department. His research interests are in social cognition, creativity measurement, perceptions of superheroes and villains, figurative language processing, cognitive maps, the scholarship of teaching, and science/ pseudoscience. He is active in the Association for Psychological Science, American Psychological Association Division 2 - the Society for the Teaching of Psychology, Midwestern Psychological Association, and the Missouri Academy of Science, where he is currently serving as Section Chair for the Social/ Behavioral Sciences.

When not engaging in scholarship or teaching, Andrew enjoys anything outdoors or creative, spending time with his family, and service projects.

Wise words from Andrew

"Park University’s emphasis on teaching excellence has allowed me to explore and study a wide variety of topics and to take risks. I enjoy creating new knowledge and partnering with students in that discovery. I enjoy sharing the outcomes of those inquires with students and others. My hope is to convey that there are so many great topics and stories to learn about and share."

Schields, H., Whitfield, D. & Johnson, A. T. (2021). Crowdsourced versus criterion-based creativity measurements of drawings. Journal of Psychological Inquiry, 25 (2), 14-22.

This study presents a comparison of rankings for 45 drawings (three sets of 15 pictures) based upon creativity scores from an Amazon MTurk sample and a separate criterion-based analysis (adapting three measures from the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking - Figural Forms A and B). The results reveal positive correlations of MTurk versus Torrance scores for two of three picture sets and no differences in the rank orders. These results suggest that a criterion-based analysis is a viable and reliable strategy for determination of creativity in drawings.

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Scholar Spotlight

Johnson, A. T., & Jaehn, A. (2017). I almost missed the marathon: Self-determination, Injury, and sport termination. [Case Study] Buffalo, NY: National Center Case Study Teaching in Science, University at Buffalo, State University of New York.

This case study is about a German man named Fritz Jähn. In his late 30s Fritz was inspired by a German Porsche ad: "By 40 years of age, a man has to have built a house, have fathered a son, have run a marathon, and driven a Porsche." Fritz was only missing the marathon, but with dedicated training he met this goal by the age of 40. He then progressed to triathlon events, followed by five Ironman competitions. His competitive endeavors were terminated after an unsuccessful hallux valgus surgery in his 40s. This case study presents the details of these events along with information related to his personality dispositions, motivation, his response to sport injury, and sport termination. Designed for a sport psychology class, Fritz's story may be brought into any course that addresses concepts of identity, personality, motivation, lifespan development, and transition from profession.

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Kerkman, D., & Johnson, A. (2014). Challenging multiple-choice questions to engage critical thinking. InSight: A Journal of Scholarly Teaching, 9, 92-97.

This article examines a technique for engaging critical thinking on multiple-choice exams. University students were encouraged to "challenge" the validity of any exam question they believed to be unfair (e.g., more than one equally correct answer, ambiguous wording, etc.). The number of valid challenges a student wrote was a better predictor of exam scores than the number of invalid challenges or GPA. The technique also allows instructors to gain insight into the sources of students' errors that may be useful in improving instruction.

Read the full article from Park library.

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