Joanna Pinto-Coelho, PhD

Pedagogy & Practice

Each semester is an opportunity to create something new, or to re-evaluate a class I taught before in order to reflect student feedback, to incorporate current events, or to assign newer texts or different media.


Pedagogical Goals

I tailor the structure of class time, the content of lectures, and the type and frequency of assignments to the short-term and long-term pedagogical goals I have for students.

Examples of course goals include:

  • learning how to develop effective research questions;

  • improving media, data, digital, and cultural literacies;

  • understanding the concept of intersectionality;

  • learning how to engage in respectful, informed, and productive dialogue;

  • understanding the concept of social construction;

  • learning how to read and evaluate a table, chart, or map;

  • understanding the concept of institutionalized oppression;

  • developing academic writing and citation skills; and

  • completing IRB paperwork for a research project.




Pedagogical Practices

In order to maximize student engagement, I utilize a variety of pedagogical practices in my undergraduate and graduate classes in pursuit of blended learning:

  • assigning primary texts by diverse scholars and from an array of disciplines, methodologies, and theoretical traditions in order to expose students to breadth and depth of thought;

  • assigning other kinds of “texts” for analysis (e.g., news articles, clips from news shows, pieces of legislation, and documentaries) in order to bring "the sociological imagination" and the history of policy and economic context to bear on the real world and current events;

  • a flipped classroom, including voice memos in place of in-class lectures;

  • jigsaw discussions;

  • fishbowl discussions;

  • a paperless class (i.e., in which I post all syllabi and reading material online; assignments are turned in online, I return grades and feedback online, students book office hours appointments with me online, and I facilitate writing workshops online); and

  • a semester-long digital group project (financed by a Digital Seed Grant for Blended Learning) in place of a final paper.




Teaching Writing

Teaching writing — proper grammar, punctuation, citation, and academic style — is central to my pedagogy. Writing is a crucial life skill that professors often assume students have mastered once they reach college, certainly once they reach graduate school. College students’ writing skills vary widely, however, as do graduate students’.

I ask undergraduate students to engage with what we read and discuss in brief written “class journals” each week. I encourage them to draw connections to what they study in other courses, what they read in the news, and what is going on in their lives. The regularity, brevity, informality, and confidentiality of class journals have added benefits: (1) they allow otherwise quiet students to demonstrate what more socially confident students demonstrate easily in class discussion, and (2) they act as a weekly check-in on students’ reading and general well-being. Missing, late, or substandard class journals may be early flags that something is wrong and allow early intervention.

In order to train effective social scientists at the undergraduate and graduate level, I teach writing-heavy research design and statistical analysis courses. Students work on one research project over the course of the semester, adding new levels of statistical analyses to their paper with each successive assignment. This means students revise their papers, and therefore improve their writing, as they progress through the semester. Students track my copywriting marks and other comments in a stylesheet I designed to help them prioritize during the revision process and thereby improve the clarity of their analysis.

With graduate students, I ensure course deliverables can be used towards a program requirement or a publishable paper. I also spend a significant amount of time throughout the course demystifying and deconstructing the academic writing, revision, submission, and publication processes, and helping them establish their own daily practice.


STUDENT FEEDBACK ON how i teach writing


Diversity & Inclusion

I am keenly aware of the multiplicity of issues facing students today — including those related to mental and physical health and ability, to structural disadvantage, and to family and financial need— and I strive to be an accommodating professor, a listening ear, and an advocate throughout the challenges students face as people.


In the classroom

I am committed to making my classroom as safe as I can for marginalized students. No learning or change happens when either privileged or marginalized parties are in comfort, and students of any subordinated status already experience dislocation and discrimination on the campuses of selective and predominantly white institutions of higher education, not to mention in the world at large. It is a central aspect of my pedagogy to bring students of hegemonic identities into the collective discomfort so they can contextualize their own experiences and histories, their communities, as well as listen to the experiences of others’ and their communities’.  

In order to make sure all students can bring their best selves to class and get the help that they require, I provide introductory and advanced classes alike with the same discussion rules and institutional resources at the beginning of the semester.




Affinity Leadership

As an undergraduate, I served as president of Mujeres*, the College's affinity group for Latinx students, and I focused my agenda on increasing the presence of Latinx Studies in the curriculum. I served on the steering committee that successfully revived the Latin American, Iberian, and Latino Studies (LAILS) concentration and hired a postdoc in the History Department who focused on Latinx labor history. I also worked as a Multicultural Recruitment Intern for the Admissions Office, translating select parts of the admissions site into Spanish and helping admissions officers target public schools in predominantly Latinx areas for recruitment activity.

As an alumna, I founded the College's first Latinx alumni affinity group in 2014, and I continue to lead it today. I also serve on the Alumnae* Association's Executive Board. As a faculty member at Bryn Mawr, I served for a year as director of The Enid Cook '31 Center (the ECC), Bryn Mawr's new dormitory space for the leadership of Black and Latinx affinity groups, as well as social and event space for those groups. The ECC's previous iteration was Perry House. I have also served on search committees, led diversity discussions and debates during difficult times, and interviewed prospective students with the Admissions Office.


The Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF) Program

I was also one of the co-coordinators of the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program (MMUF) at Bryn Mawr College. The MMUF Program is an international non-profit organization dedicated to diversifying the professoriate by identifying and mentoring promising scholars of color (traditionally, five rising juniors every year at each participating institution) through a two-year research project, the doctoral program application process, the dissertation writing process, and the academic job hunt with financial, social, and cultural capital. I was very fortunate to have been a recipient of this fellowship when I was an undergraduate at Bryn Mawr, and the program helped prepare me for and supported me through graduate school. It has been a privilege to pay that support forward by working with dozens of brilliant young scholars at Bryn Mawr as they begin their professorial journeys. In my role as a co-coordinator, I help demystify academia and graduate school in general and the life of a grad student and a professor more specifically. I helped fellows of all fields choose mentors and negotiate their working relationships through topic changes, sabbaticals, and personal crises. Together we troubleshot methodological issues, found money to pay for research expenses, and revised drafts of personal statements. I also worked to ensure the fellows spent quality time bonding with and supporting each other, developed positive self-care habits, and did something fun during exam time.