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Check our COVID-19 Guide for updates on Library services and resources.

Study Help and Tutoring

Connect with free tutoring resources at Red Deer College.

Appointments

For Winter 2021, writing tutoring is offered online, in-person at RDC Library, or by email.

1. Online tutoring via Microsoft Teams (videoconference)

Click "Schedule Appointment" and then select "Online" from the drop-down menu.

You will receive a link to join the online Teams meeting at the pre-arranged time.

Don’t have Microsoft Teams? That’s OK! You can use Teams in your web browser or via the Teams app (you'll be prompted to download it when you click on the meeting link). Also, all RDC students have access to Microsoft Teams by signing into Microsoft Office 365 with your RDC Loop login credentials.

If the appointment times don't work with your schedule, alternative arrangements can be made by emailing jennifer.stange@rdc.ab.ca.

2. In-person tutoring

Click "Schedule Appointment" and then select "RDC Library (in person)" from the drop-down menu.

In-person appointments will be in the tutoring area on the main floor, east side of the Library.

Please bring your writing in electronic format; paper essays will not be allowed. Face coverings (masks) are mandatory.

If the appointment times don't work with your schedule, alternative arrangements can be made by emailing jennifer.stange@rdc.ab.ca.

 

3. Email tutoring

We also offer writing help via email. Email the Academic Writing Tutor at jennifer.stange@rdc.ab.ca, and include:

  • your full name, RDC student number, and program of study
  • assignment details from your course outline, including due date
  • an attachment of your essay or rough draft
  • your top 2-3 writing concerns or questions
  • how you heard about the Writing Skills Centre

You will receive an email response within one business day, letting you know what the expected turn-around time will be (which will vary depending on current demand and tutor availability). On the promised date, we’ll email your essay back to you, along with our comments and suggestions.


Writing Skills Centre Policies: 

  • Students can access our services a maximum of once per day and twice per week.
  • Please cancel any appointments or email submissions you no longer need by using the cancellation link in your appointment confirmation email, or by emailing jennifer.stange@rdc.ab.ca 
  • Failure to attend an appointment without notice will be recorded as a "no show." After two no shows, it will be at the discretion of the Academic Writing Tutor whether to allow further appointments for the remainder of the semester.
  • View the rest of the Writing Skills Centre Policies

Writing Skills Centre Vision

To create a thriving, vibrant RDC writing community where students, staff, and instructors gather to discuss all aspects of academic writing.

Writing Skills Centre Mission

Using scaffolded instructional techniques and student-centred learning approaches, we strive to help RDC writers discover the knowledge and develop the skills they need to become confident, competent and independent writers.


All RDC students are welcome in the Writing Skills Centre; it doesn't matter what program you're in or what your marks are. The Writing Skills Centre can help you with:

  • Research and planning
  • Essay organization and structure
  • Developing a strong thesis statement
  • Grammar and punctuation
  • Any other issues related to writing

In order to become independent learners, students must be prepared to acquire many types of skills throughout their post-secondary education. At the Writing Skills Centre, we help you develop the writing skills you need in both academic and professional settings. While we cannot proofread your paper for you, we can teach you how to proofread and edit your own work, skills that will stay with you for life.

Tutors are not permitted to discuss take home exams, resumes, or questions related to course content.

During your appointment, you can:

  • Share your preliminary ideas and notes for an assignment so you can talk them through with the tutor. Talking them through can help you clarify and focus your ideas.
  • Share a draft of your paper, no matter how rough it is. The tutor can comment on which sections are clearly explained and which might need more explanation and support.
  • Share your paper in its final stages. Ask the tutor to comment on particular parts—e.g., paragraphs, sentences, word choices—that you’re unsure about.
  • Share your nearly finished paper. The tutor can give you some techniques for editing and proofreading. Please remember that the tutor cannot proofread your paper for you.

What to bring to your appointment:

  • Your writing in electronic format
  • Pertinent assignment details

Students are allowed to book one appointment per day and up to two per week.

Please cancel any appointments or email submissions you no longer need by using the cancellation link in your appointment confirmation email, or by emailing jennifer.stange@rdc.ab.ca.

Failure to attend an appointment without notice will be recorded as a "no show." After two no shows, it will be at the discretion of the Academic Writing Tutor whether to allow further appointments for the remainder of the semester.

Arrive on time for your appointment. Students who are more than 15 minutes late may find their session has been given to another student. 

The tutor will offer you guidance so you can work more effectively, but cannot go beyond that. If the tutor does more than that, or if the assignment you hand in contains the tutor’s work rather than your own, you may be accused of academic dishonesty or plagiarism, which can result in severe consequences for your educational opportunities. Find out more about academic integrity at RDC.

Tutors and students are expected to interact with one another in a polite and respectful manner. Rude, disrespectful or inappropriate behavior will not be tolerated. 
 

Looking for help with your references?

Writing Tutors are happy to help with APA, MLA, and Chicago style citations. However, Library staff are your main source for citation help! To connect with them virtually: start a live chat session, text, or phone.

Writing Resources and Links

Knowing how to begin can be overwhelming. These links break it down:

Assignment Calculator
Enter today's date and the date your assignment is due, and this website designs an assignment schedule for you! Complete with writing links and advice. From Royal Roads University.​

Understanding Assignments
​A step-by-step guide from Royal Roads University to help you interpret and understand your assignments.

Brainstorming Techniques
You've researched your topic -- now what? The University of Kansas Writing Center details some different ways to help you find and organize themes from your research.

Creating an Essay Outline
It's tempting to skip the outline, but don't! Making a good outline will keep you on track as you write. George Mason University shows you how.

Thesis Statements
Concise handout from the U of A Centre for Writers with step-by-step advice on how to write and evaluate your thesis statements.

Thesis Statements: Myths and Facts
Still confused about thesis statements? The Writing Centre at Thompson Rivers University addresses some common issues.

Essay Structure: The Basics
Great advice from U of C Writing Support Services on a basic essay format and formulas for your body paragraphs. One of our most-used handouts.

Introduction
Learn how to make a good first impression. EAP Foundation explains how to write a strong introduction.

Conclusion
Do you struggle to wrap up your essay? Don't overcomplicate it! Walden University offers some simple tips.

Transition Words
Transition words help your reader see how your thoughts and ideas are connected. Are you using them when and where you should? The University of Ottawa Academic Writing Help Centre breaks it down in one of our most recommended handouts.

Writing Anxiety and Writer's Block
Is anxiety about writing keeping you from starting? UNC at Chapel Hill offers advice on anxiety and writer's block to get you writing.

How to integrate research and sources into your writing:

Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Summarizing: What's the Difference?
Purdue OWL defines these essential skills that students need to master.

Quoting
Simon Fraser University on when to quote and how to do it properly.

Paraphrasing
Purdue OWL with a step-by-step guide to paraphrasing, complete with examples.

Summarizing
Strategies for crafting good summaries, complete with a case study and examples. From Simon Fraser University.

Reporting Verbs
Reporting verbs are used to blend your sources seamlessly with your own writing to avoid "quote bombs." This link from EAP Foundation explains how to use them and includes a great chart for reference. You'll want to bookmark this one!

Writing is only half the battle! Learn how to revise, edit, and proofread what you've written:

Revising Essays & Research Papers
Checklist with guided questions and suggestions for improving your draft. From U of C Writing Support Services.

Editing
Clear and concise list from the University of Ottawa Academic Writing Help Centre. Helpful checklist format with a great section on citations.

Reverse Outlines
What's a reverse outline? Only one of the best ways to check your paper's organization! This highly-recommended technique is explained by the Writing Center at University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Writing Concisely
Clear, concise writing communicates your message the best. Great tips from the U of A Centre for Writers on finding and eliminating unnecessary words in your writing.

Proofreading
The final step. Learn how to proofread and find the errors you may be missing. From the Writing Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Hemingway Editor
This free, online editing app will check your writing for readability, clarity, and conciseness. Paste part or all of your essay here to get suggestions for improvement.

Paper Formatting Guidelines:

What should your title page look like? Do you need to bold your title? Where do the page numbers go? How do you format your References/Works Cited/Bibliography page? Answers to all these questions and more in the citation-specific formatting guidelines below:

APA 7th Edition Essay Formatting Guidelines

Chicago 17th Edition Essay Formatting Guidelines

MLA 8th Edition Essay Formatting Guidelines

The nuts and bolts of your writing:

 

Grammar


Sentence-Level:

Basic Sentence Structure
All the elements of a sentence, explained. Contains links to additional videos, tutorials, and webinars on sentences and grammar for those who want to learn more. From Walden University.

Sentence Fragments
Explanation from Grammarly on how to identify and fix sentence fragments (AKA incomplete sentences).

Run-On Sentences
Bethune College at York University with tips on how to fix run-on sentences.

Word-Level:

Wordiness
Need to get that word count down? Bethune College at York University explains how to eliminate wordiness in your writing.

Filler Words
Great article from Grammarly on "31 Words and Phrases You No Longer Need."

Subject-Verb Agreement
Help on getting your subjects and verbs to agree, from Bethune College at York University.

Spelling Tips
Move beyond the spell checker! Great tips from the University of Toronto.

Unbiased Language:

Singular "They"
Statement and guidelines from APA on using "they" as a singular noun for more inclusive language.

Indigenous Peoples Terminology Guidelines
Guidelines on inclusive language when writing about Indigenous Peoples and issues in Canada. From Indigenous Corporate Training Inc.

 

Punctuation


Commas
Oh, the comma! SUNY Empire State College explains this most misused and misunderstood punctuation mark.

Semi-Colons, Colons, and Dashes
Do you know when to use which one? The Writing Center at UNC at Chapel Hill explains it.

Hyphens
According to SUNY Empire State College, "hyphens are like trailer hitches." Find out why and which words need them!

Quotation Marks and Apostrophes
Are you quoting sources in your essay? This link from Purdue OWL is essential reading to get the punctuation right.

 

Parts of Speech

 

Parts of Speech: The Rules
The University of Ottawa explains the eight parts of speech -- verbs, nouns, pronouns, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, and interjections -- and how to put them together. Take the quiz at the end to test your knowledge.

Writing sites we love!

Purdue Online Writing Lab General Writing Resources
Perhaps the most-recommended writing and citing website around, for good reason.

Trent University Academic Skills Centre
How to write in college and university, step-by-step.

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Writing Center
Excellent resource with lots of links, including many videos for visual learners.

Grammarly Blog
You don't have to subscribe to Grammarly to benefit from their knowledge. This searchable blog contains lots of good information on the nuts and bolts of grammar and writing.

Lunch and Learn workshops

Join RDC Academic Support and Disability Resources staff online every Tuesday in February and March (except for Reading Week), as they present information and strategies to help students with the top academic concerns. Click on the link to learn about the content that will be covered and to register:

Each session will consist of a presentation on the topic of the week, followed by a choice of breakout sessions that explore specific strategies or tools. Each week's main presentation will be recorded so you can re-watch at a later date. The sessions will be offered through Blackboard Collaborate; the link will be emailed to you when you register.

Registration is required. All sessions are free to RDC students, and you can attend as many as you wish.

Can't attend at the specific time? Register anyway, and we'll send you the recording and handout after the session.

Online Learning Strategies

Recent events have forced students to adjust in unanticipated ways. Classes have moved online and many students are taking social distancing or self-isolating measures. It’s important to take care of yourself and be flexible with yourself and others. Routines have changed. With the transition of moving coursework to an online platform, you will need to find ways to create structure for yourself in order to succeed as an online learner. You will also need to recognize that you, your classmates, and your instructors will have to be patient and work together during this time. 

If your classes don't require you to be online at a specific time, you may not feel the need to structure your life around your coursework. Try to develop new strategies and adjust your strengths to complete your assignments and prepare for tests and exams. 

Develop Habits to Manage your Workload

Treat an online course like a “real” course by devoting consistent chunks of time to the class. Online courses are attractive to students because they offer flexibility in learning. However, this flexibility can sometimes cause students to delay working through the course material, thinking they’ll find time later in the week. Online coursework requires you to make the time for it. 

  • Review the syllabus for each of your courses. Using a calendar or term planner, create mini-deadlines for completing your assignments to avoid last minute rushes.
  • Using a weekly schedule, plan consistent blocks of time during the week that you can devote to coursework. Stick to this schedule. Don’t fall into the temptation to procrastinate. It is important to establish a consistent routine.
  • Make daily “to do” lists to assign priorities to each of your tasks. 

Avoid Procrastination

If you find yourself procrastinating, sometimes it just means you are unmotivated, but it could also mean you are overwhelmed. For small tasks, it's important to think long-term. Do your small tasks contribute to your long-term goal? Work on smaller tasks for at least five minutes. Often, this will help you find the momentum you need to complete a task. If your task is a regular weekly task, plan to do it at the same time each week. For bigger tasks, break them down into small, manageable chunks. Don't expect perfection, and make sure you ask for help. 

Set Up a Productive Workspace

When creating your study environment, ask yourself:

  • Do you have enough space to spread out your textbooks and notes?
  • Do you have enough light?
  • Is your chair comfortable?
  • Have you removed distractions (e.g. cell phone, TV, etc.)?
  • Is it too noisy, or too quiet?
  • Is your space cluttered or not tidy enough?

Prepare for Class

When accessing online classes, prepare your mind the same way you would for face-to-face classes. Think about what space is right for you and take time to organize it. 

  • Prepare your study space by having necessary materials (pens, papers, textbooks, etc.) easily accessible.
  • Set up an appropriate study space that is separate from your "home space" (if possible).
  • Make sure to have a charger handy and situate yourself close to a power outlet. Sit at a desk, table, or counter instead of on your couch or bed (if possible).  
  • Use a mouse and separate screen, if available.  
  • Dress the same way you would for an in-person class. This often gives you a sense of purpose and helps you differentiate between home and class.

Develop a Routine

Align your routine with that of your family members and fellow housemates, to allow you to study effectively with minimal interruptions. By sharing your schedule, this will inform others when you are in class or studying. 

If you can't ensure a quiet space while you are attending (synchronous) online classes, remember to mute your microphone so you don't disturb others. You can always switch your microphone on when you need to speak. 

Having a structured space will help you to stay focused during your online class time.

Students are doing more reading online through digital devices than they ever have before. It's important to develop online reading strategies to ensure that you are engaging deeply with the digital text in the same way you would when reading information printed on paper.

Those who prefer to read print material often have a more interactive, linear experience because they can flip pages, remember where information was located on a page, highlight, and write in margins. Digital reading, however, is non-linear because it takes place on a flat screen. Digital reading often takes more self-control and focus to navigate through hyperlinked information. 

The key to getting yourself to read deeply in any reading format is to ensure you focus, engage, recall, and reflect.

Focus

Focus and organize main ideas. Often instructors will list learning objectives to help you focus on key ideas that are being taught.  Think about:

  • Why am I being asked to read this?
  • What am I supposed to get out of this?
  • How will I remember what I just read?

Engage

Engage with the text in meaningful ways. In a digital world, it is important to disrupt the pattern of skipping around and getting lost in the big wide world of the Internet. Break down complex text for yourself and develop a system for taking notes, whether using pen and paper or your device. You may be able to use a "notes" feature on your device so you can take notes and highlight while you read the text. 

Recall

Recall information in a way that enables you to understand the material, respond to it, and remember it. Check your recall as you go along; one way to do this is by reading aloud. You may find that other methods, like writing brief summary notes, also help with recall. Synthesizing and summarizing the material in your own words ensures that you understand the material and have given it deep thought.  

Reflect

Reflect on what you've learned. When you've finished reading, review the material you highlighted or jotted down. Reflect on key words you identified and any questions you have. Reflect on how you might need this information or knowledge in the future. Will you be tested on it? Will you have to complete an assignment or write an essay?

The important point of reading, whether it is through digital or print, is to ensure you have a deep understanding and ability to remember the material. This document describes effective reading strategy to help you make the most of your reading.

When writing online exams, it is important to review and understand the format of the exam. Make sure you understand the format of the exam, type of exam, specifications, required software, and the time allotted. Some exams may be timed. Exams may be scheduled at a particular time or open for a range of time, from a few hours to a few days. If you are unsure, ask your instructor. 

Technology Considerations

When preparing for and writing an online exam be sure to:

  • Check your device, Internet connection, and browser
  • Master the process to access and login to the exam
  • Learn how to navigate through the exam
  • Know what you need to do after you have finished answering the questions (e.g. save your answers, submit your exam, etc.)

If your exam is only open for a few hours, you should prepare as you would for an in-person exam. Create some practice exams by using old assignments or tests; practice writing them under time constraints to practice your recall of information.  

If your exam is "open book," be sure to spend time prior to the exam to organize your notes and resources so you can easily find information when needed. This will prevent you from wasting time.

If your exam is open for a few days, treat it like a final project or essay. Before the exam is released, do some research and preparation. Be sure to budget time before you start your exam to do an outline. Before you submit the exam, budget time to proofread and edit your work.

For further support with exam preparation, check out additional resources here.

What is Plagiarism (And How to Avoid It)

Plagiarism occurs when you take another person’s words or ideas and claim them as your own.

The most common forms of plagiarism are:

  • copying or paraphrasing another author’s work without proper acknowledgement
  • using the ideas or lines of reasoning of another author’s work without proper acknowledgement
  • submitting work that someone else has written or substantially edited
  • submitting the same work for multiple courses without approval

List from RDC Student Misconduct: Academic and Non-Academic policy

Plagiarism has severe consequences, including failure, suspension, and expulsion. In college courses, you are expected to document your sources properly and consistently.

The best way to avoid plagiarism is to cite your sources. Commonly used citation styles include APA, MLA, and Chicago.

To learn more, see the RDC Library’s Academic Integrity guide.

Resources for Faculty

Refer a Student

If you feel a student would benefit from the help of the Writing Tutor, direct them to book an appointment 

Request an In-Class Presentation

The Academic Writing Tutor offers in-class presentations or workshops to promote academic writing skills. I'll work with you to develop a presentation on any writing topic.

Two weeks notice is generally required, and availability is dependent on my schedule.

Contact Me

Academic Writing Tutor: Jen Stange
jennifer.stange@rdc.ab.ca
Office: 1006Q (in the Library)