Carnegie Mellon University

Silvia Pessoa

Silvia Pessoa

Associate Teaching Professor, Liberal & Social Sciences

5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213


I joined the faculty at Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar in 2006 where I have taught courses in academic writing and argumentation, sociolinguistics, bilingualism, and immigration. I am interested in research that has clear pedagogical implications and a direct impact on society.  My areas of research interest lie between literacy and immigration studies. Two main questions guide my research agenda:

1. What are the factors that contribute to literacy development and educational achievement among linguistically and culturally diverse students?    

2. What opportunities and challenges does immigration pose for individuals and receiving and sending societies?

In the area of literacy development, I aim to enhance teaching and learning at CMU-Q by understanding both students’ challenges and achievements with academic reading and writing and their professors’ expectations for writing across the curriculum and in the disciplines. The goal of this analysis is to generate pedagogical tools for improving the quality of teaching and students’ literacy development. 

My research on immigration in the U.S. and Qatar tackles important questions about the challenges and complexities of immigration from both an educational and social perspective. I use the tools of systemic functional linguistics, discourse analysis, and ethnographic methods in my inquiry about these topics. 

My most recent work was supported by three major grants from the Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF) under their National Priorities Research Program (NPRP) and has appeared in The International Review of Applied Linguistics, Linguistics and Education, The Journal of Second Language Writing, and Journal of Arabian Studies. I am an active member of TESOL where I serve as the Chair of the Second Language Writing Interest Section.