susan johnson
Chair, Department of Education, Associate Professor
Hirt 300

Professor Susan D. Johnson is the chair of the Department of Education at Mercyhurst University.  She specializes in the treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorders and emotional and behavioral disorders of children and youth. Her scholarly interests include instructional design and development of pedagogical best practices for students with severe disabilities, in addition to, investigating innovative methods for preparing pre-service teachers.

Professor Johnson’s primary teaching areas are in low incidences disabilities, Autism Spectrum Disorders and behavior theories and practices.  Previous to teaching at Mercyhurst, Professor Johnson spent 15 years working as a public school and private agency speech/language therapist and special education teacher.  She has been at Mercyhurst since 2010.


Gannon University, Ph.D. Organizational Learning and Leadership (ABD, May 2016)

St. Bonaventure University, M.S. Ed., Special Education

Thesis:  “Facilitating and Increasing Turn-taking Skills in Children with Autism Using Neurotypical Peers as Models for Communication”

State University of New York at Fredonia, B.S. Ed., Speech Pathology and Audiology



ESPE 101: Psychology of Diverse Learners
ESPE 203: Behavior Theories and Practices
ESPE 305: Low Incidence Disabilities: Effective Instructional Practices
ESPE 306: Low Incidence Disabilities: Clinical Experience


EDSP 540:  Introduction to Autism


VSA Intersections: Arts and Special Education Conference

Department of VSA and Accessibility at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

August 1-2, 2016

Pittsburgh, PA

Presentation title:  Gaining Access through Arts Integration: Literacy Instructions for Students with Severe Disabilities

Co-presenters:  Katherine Brittner, Kaleigh Ruggerio, Elizabeth Stuehr, Kelsey Wilson, Jacob Washabaugh

Athens Institute for Education and Research                                                      

18th Annual International Conference on Education

May 16-19, 2016

Athens, Greece

Presentation title:  Developing Pre-Service Teachers’ Capacity for Collaborative Leadership: Peer-to-Peer Coaching in Clinical Experiences

Council for Exceptional Children-Teacher Education Division National Conference                

November 4-7, 2015

Tempe, Arizona

Presentation title: Preparing "Digital Natives" to use Digital Gamification to Increase Opportunities to Respond

Association for Behavior Analysis International 41st Annual Convention            

May 22–26, 2015

San Antonio, Texas

Poster title:  A Parametric Evaluation of Backup Reinforcer Class Size

Council for Exceptional Children 2015 Convention and Expo                           

April 9-12, 2015

San Diego, California

Presentation title:  Gaining Access through Arts Integration: Literacy Instruction for Students with Severe Disabilities

13th Annual Hawaii International Conference on Education                                                       

January 3-6, 2015

Honolulu, Hawaii

Presentation title:  Transforming the Field of Special Education Through the Redesign of the Pre-Service Teacher Early Clinical Experience