Online Writing Center

Our Goals

The Online Writing Center has four goals:
1. To help all learners at all skill levels develop their writing skills and grow as writers,
2. To foster independence by teaching learners how to revise, edit, and proofread their own work more accurately and efficiently,
3. To increase learners’ confidence in their writing abilities,
4. To support affiliate faculty in the assigning and assessing of writing. These goals really guide the strategies we use to provide support to learners, as well as the type(s) of help we offer.

Learner Support

The Online Writing Center has three types of support for learners:
1. 45-Minute Virtual Consultations via Blackboard Collaborate,
2. Quick Consults via Email,
3. Writing resources including handouts & tutorials.

Accessing the Online Writing Center

All learners and affiliate faculty members can access the Online Writing Center by self-enrolling. This brief video tutorial explains the self-enrollment process.

The Role of the Consultant

We believe that the consultant’s job is to help the learner become a better writer, which means helping the learner develop and understand his/her own writing process more clearly. Consultants collaborate with learners to help them improve their writing, and the focus of a consultation will be to improve writing skills.

Since our consultants are also faculty members, it is even more important to clarify how the role of consultant differs from that of instructor. Instructors evaluate work and provide grades, consultants do not. Rather, consultants assess a learner’s writing in non-evaluative terms. Consultants will not discuss grades or possible grades with learners. Grades are the specific domain of the instructor.

How Consultants Help Learners

Virtual Consultations: Consultants will work on any kind of writing including applications for employment and graduate school, personal writing, and public writing not assigned for class. Because our goal is to help learners develop writing skills and grow as writers, our faculty consultants do not edit, proofread, or revise learners’ work. Instead, our faculty consultants will discuss, provide feedback, tips, strategies, and resources about the following issues:

  • Logical and critical thinking
  • Writing clearly and effectively
  • Brainstorming and researching topics
  • Constructing thesis statements
  • Drafting outlines
  • Using APA manuscript style and documentation
  • Avoiding plagiarism
  • Revising and editing drafts
  • Addressing grammar and sentence-level issues

In a typical consultation, consultants will recommend session goals (the writer makes the final decision), ask questions about the assignment that encourage the writer to understand what is being asked in terms of purpose and audience and to help the learner decide the appropriate mode of expression, and help develop an action plan to help learners improve as writers.

Quick Consults: Quick Consults are the second type of consulting service the Online Writing Center offers. Quick Consults are emails in which learners ask specific writing questions (questions that can be answered in 5 minutes or less). Quick Consults will follow the same strategies mentioned above. Consultants will not edit, proofread, or revise during quick consults; rather, they will explain concepts and provide tips, strategies, and resources to help learners understand how their writing can be improved.