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Carla C. Johnson

Professor of Science Education and Executive Director of the Artificial Intelligence Academy

Poe Hall 326D


Dr. Johnson is a Professor of Science Education, Executive Director of the Artificial Intelligence Academy, and Faculty Research Fellow at NCSU. She has been awarded and managed over 75 million in external funding for research and programming across her career – all focused on making STEM for all students a reality. Dr. Johnson has served as an expert advisor to the Office of Science and Technology Policy and has led research and evaluation projects for NASA and the Department of Defense. Dr. Johnson has led several large-scale STEM initiatives such as the STEM Road Map Curriculum Project and the Handbook of Research on STEM Education (2020) in which the second edition is in progress. Dr. Johnson currently serves as the elected Chair of the American Educational Research Association’s (AERA) Special Interest Group (SIG) for Science Teaching and Learning. She is on the editorial board of the journal Trends in Higher Education and served as the Editor of the School Science and Mathematics research journal for a decade 2011-21.

Dr. Johnson’s recent research (2023) includes a systematic review of online teaching and learning in K-12 during the pandemic which was published in the top educational research journal published by AERA – Review of Educational Research.

A second recent study which Johnson led is of urban high schools in the Indiana GEAR UP program. Findings indicated participation supported students to be better prepared for post-secondary study (2023).

Dr. Johnson has worked with thousands of teachers across the U.S. through professional development and training programs. She has also worked with over 50 schools leading their STEM School strategic planning process. Dr. Johnson has received many national awards for her research. Across her career she has published over 50 peer reviewed research articles, 33 books, and 9 book chapters, as well as dozens of evaluation reports for associated federal and state-level STEM evaluation projects. She has developed an industry partner network for the AI Academy comprised of over 100 organizations which are engaged in growing access for historically excluded and underserved individuals to high school instruction, adult workforce development, and college/career paths in artificial intelligence/IT.

Before joining NC State, Dr. Johnson was Purdue’s College of Education’s associate dean for research, engagement and global affairs and the college’s lead for strategic partnerships. She also served as  Provost’s Fellow for P-16 STEM and Executive Director of the Indiana GEAR UP program. In these various roles, she has worked collaboratively with others to develop and implement a strategy for coordinating campus-wide P12 STEM initiatives and has provided leadership for developing and implementing all cross-campus and external partnership efforts within and outside of Indiana. Before joining Purdue, Johnson held research, academic and leadership positions with the University of Cincinnati, the University of Toledo, Utah State University, Northern Kentucky University and Vanderbilt University.


Date: 03/01/20 - 2/29/24
Amount: $5,999,799.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of Labor (DOL)

The NC Apprenticeships for Innovation: A.I. Program application will be submitted to the Department of Labor’s Apprenticeships: Closing the Skills Gap funding opportunity due September 24, 2019. The goal of the NCAI four-year program is to support 5,000 current NC residents, DoD STEM program participants, and DoD veterans to participate in a multiple year paid apprenticeship program while completing a college coursework and certification to work A.I. The participant group will include current employees in the IT field who are underemployed or are seeking an opportunity to move into a different career (incumbent), underrepresented, and military populations within the state of NC as a primary and specific recruiting topic and across the US as well. The NCAI program will have multiple pathways and prepare participants for AI careers which are in high demand in NC as well as nationwide. Our program will include two levels of training and associated certifications: A.I. Level 1 (artificial intelligence and data mining focus), and Level 2 (machine learning and analytics). Each course is structured across ten weeks, with the entire program being completed in less than one calendar year.

Date: 04/16/19 - 12/31/21
Amount: $1,585,606.00
Funding Agencies: US Army

North Carolina State University (NCSU) and PI Dr. Carla C. Johnson, Associate Dean of the College of Education and Executive Director of the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation, are pleased to have the opportunity to submit a proposal to continue the important work of evaluating the AEOP Consortium. Since 2015, Dr. Johnson has led this work at Purdue University (PU) and in this proposal we have detailed how we plan to transition the work to NCSU and add in new scope-of-work requests to our work plan to better meet the needs of the AEOP Consortium. In our work, we will continue to assess participant progress toward key outcomes aligned with Army objectives, ensure AEOP provides transparency in reporting impact of investments through measuring results, collecting data, and identifying best practice.

Date: 07/15/19 - 7/14/23
Amount: $1,180,936.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of Labor (DOL)

Dr. Johnson will serve as Co-PI for the P-CAP project. Dr. Johnson will lead the research and evaluation of P-CAP progress toward expected outcomes and outputs, providing guidance on continuous improvement of the program. Dr. Johnson will provide oversight and vision for the P-CAP Evaluation team, including directing and supervising the evaluation support provided by Metriks Amerique. Metriks will support the data collection, analysis, and report writing needs of the partners for the program. Dr. Johnson will collaborate with Dr. Umberger and other program leadership to draft the necessary components for annual reporting related to the evaluation of P-CAP.

Date: 01/01/20 - 6/30/23
Amount: $934,215.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of Education (DED)

This project will develop two PLOM’s based on existing IES Practice Guides. The two PLOM’s will include Teaching Academic Content and Literacy to Elementary and Middle School Students and Teaching Mathematics to Young Children. The purpose of the proposed PLOM is to share evidenced-based principles and instructional materials for teachers to support the growing number of English Learners (ELs) in elementary and middle school in the US. ELs have been defined as “students whose families speak a language other than English and, based on language proficiency assessments, are limited English proficient” (Saunders & Marcelletti, 2013, p. 139). The plan for this new project is to take lessons learned from our previous work with MOOCs while utilizing the most recent research literature in online learning to transition our format for e-learning into the next phase for the FI, which will include integrating synchronous components along with asynchronous delivery and examining delivery into individual modules of content for each course that can be self-paced rather than on a set schedule for entry and completion. To offset the cost of this additional added personalized support in addition to the online course format, participants and/or their school districts will pay a small fee for access to content coach - a new addition in our format for online learning. Each PLOM will have a 60-day (two-month) entry window where new users may sign up and begin work on the first module. Users can move forward at their own pace through the content. The second and third modules will be designed for users to start at any time across the course. However, all content for the PLOM will need to be completed within 90 days following the latest entry date - giving users between 90 to 150 days to finish the course. Each module will have a live coach that will interact with the course two times each week through scheduled lectures/discussions of the content. To accommodate various schedules and time zones, these two sessions each week will be provided with one set in U.S. accessible times and the second at other times for users outside of the country. All sessions will also be recorded if a user is not available during a given week/session. The PLOM will also include virtual office hours and discussion forums to provide additional opportunities for individualized support and discourse. We will include the micro-credentialing within the design of the courses for this project - aligned with the individual modules for each course. This more interactive and personalized learning approach to delivery of online learning opportunities will be called the FI PLOM.

Date: 08/19/20 - 8/17/21
Amount: $456,000.00
Funding Agencies: Institute of Education Sciences

North Carolina State University (NCSU) will develop a series of ten digital learning objects to be offered with the title of Best Practice in K-12 Online Teaching - the first course in a potential partnership to produce rapid and responsive online content development and deployment. Our process will include an extensive review of literature with the intent of developing an evidence-based conceptual framework that will serve as a tool for reviewing existing IES and ED content with the purpose of identifying resources that are aligned with research-based best practice. Additionally, the series of ten digital learning objects will be developed using the conceptual framework to organize content, which may include some of the IES and ED resources. Finally, a Quick Start Guide for K-12 Online Teaching will be produced and included as a resource in digital learning objects.

Date: 05/01/19 - 8/28/23
Amount: $395,174.00
Funding Agencies: US Dept. of Education (DED)

The goal of the Indiana GEAR UP (IN GEAR UP) project is to significantly increase the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education through targeted partnerships with rural and urban school corporations and growing statewide capacity to support student successful progress across grades 7-13 in Indiana. The objectives of IN GEAR UP are to: 1. increase academic performance and preparation; 2. increase high school graduation and postsecondary education enrollment rates; 3. increase students’ and families’ knowledge of postsecondary options, preparation, and financing, and 4. grow statewide capacity to support college and career readiness and postsecondary access and success. The IN GEAR UP project will leverage existing infrastructure and will focus on the development of academic interventions and supports, coupled with further establishing statewide support systems through new partners to ensure Indiana youth are prepared academically and also have the guidance to ensure college fit and success. Project Services will include: career readiness and academic interventions, advising, postsecondary planning, early credit, access to challenging curriculum, capacity building (local and state), college visits, summer bridge programs, scholarships, financial aid information and literacy, mentoring, parent involvement, test preparation, tutoring, social media as a vehicle for connecting Indiana youth and for awareness, and a higher education support system.

View all grants 
  • Academy of Outstanding Faculty in Extension and Engagement, 2023 NC State University
  • Alumni Association Extension and Outreach Award, 2023 NC State University
  • Outstanding Engagement Award 2023 NC State University, College of Education
  • George Mallinson Distinguished Service Award, 2021 School Science and Mathematics Association
  • Excellence in Research Award, 2017 Purdue University
  • Outstanding Faculty Engagement Fellow Award (Full Professor Level), 2017 Purdue University
  • Excellence in Research Award, 2016 Purdue University
  • Christian J. Foster Award for transformational contributions to K-12 education, 2015 Purdue University
  • Implications of Research for Educational Practice Award, 2014 Association for Science Teacher Education
  • Outstanding Science Teacher Educator Level I Award, 2013, Association for Science Teacher Education
  • Golden Apple Award for Outstanding Teaching and Student/Faculty Relationships, 2013 University of Cincinnati
  • Golden Apple Award for Outstanding Teaching and Student/Faculty Relationships, 2012 University of Cincinnati
  • Golden Apple Award for Outstanding Teaching and Student/Faculty Relationships, 2011 University of Cincinnati
  • Excellence in Integrating Science and Mathematics Award, 2012 School Science and Mathematics Association
  • Outstanding Early Career Scholar Award, 2006, School Science and Mathematics Association
  • Upward Bound Award of Distinction, 2002 Teaching Excellence Award, University of Cincinnati
  • Franklin B. Walter Award, 2001 Teaching Excellence Award, Ohio Department of Education