Grace, Julia, Mia, and Simon - 2023
UWC Mission, Vision, and Values

We publish our UWC Mission, Vision, and Values statements in the "About Us" section of this website. All of the content in this Field Manual page is also available for public consumption. We are an open book, and it's good to be familiar with the book.

UWC Consultant Roadmap

The UWC Consultant Roadmap condenses what we value and strive to achieve in the UWC into two pages:

  • UWC Mission, Vision, and Values
  • Consulting Excellence Criteria
    • At a basic level, the section outlines our goals for every session.
    • At a deeper level, the section affirms UWC criteria for the JMU Learning Centers' "Excellence in Tutoring" award. The JMU Learning Centers and the UWC have recognized outstanding LC undergraduate consultants/tutors with "Excellence in Tutoring" awards since 2012.
  • Elements in an Effective UWC Session
    • It's all there, nicely knitted together. The rest of this Field Manual basically spools through the Roadmap's "Elements" section. We can interlace the concerns and approaches, and we can embroider within and around them, but the whole cloth is there.
Who We Help

UWC consultants assist JMU undergraduate and graduate student writers working on all types of academic and non-academic writing: course assignments from all JMU disciplines, grad school personal statements, job and internship cover letters, scholarship applications, digital projects and portfolios, theses and dissertations, articles for publication, creative writing, and other writing projects.

We assist JMU facultyandstaff with their academic and non-academic writing projects, including theses, dissertations, and articles for publication, 

We assist JMU faculty in designing effective assignments and responding to their students' writing.

Addressing Client Expectations and Objectives

The first "Consulting Excellence" bullet point in our UWC Consultant Roadmap asks that we "balance the client’s requests and priorities with attention to global concerns (i.e., purpose, audience, thesis, and organization)."

  • Start this balancing act by honoring the objectives that clients affirm in their session requests and/or during sessions. We should address a writer’s request that we focus on later order concerns—"grammar" or "citations"—even if we notice more global opportunities/concerns.
  • It’s a good idea to mention the possibility of higher order concerns early in the session, especially if it's the writer's first or second UWC visit. The writer might not know that we can help with more than copyediting and correctness.
  • If you then notice higher order concerns during the session, try playing the role of an outside reader (e.g., "Thinking big picture for a moment and coming to this fresh, I can see how readers might need more help seeing how this matches your thesis/following your organization here/understanding your point").
  • After you ask the client about addressing higher order concerns, and if the client passes on this great opportunity, you should focus more specifically on the client's concerns.
  • If it seems appropriate, you can at the end of the session tactfully note that we would love to see the client in the UWC again and that we can also be really helpful earlier in the writing process.
JMU Libraries Resources

JMU Libraries Homepage

  • Quick Search: this search engine at the top of the Libraries' homepage searches through most of the databases JMU Libraries subscribes to or owns. It's a good first option, but our friendly JMU librarians can help writers and researchers get much deeper into JMU's long list of databases,
  • JMU Liaison Librarians: a liaison librarian is assigned to each academic program to ensure that library services and collections meet the needs of the students and faculty. Use this link to help JMU writers schedule an appointment with a liaison librarian.
  • Research Guides: JMU Liaison Librarians also curate discipline-specific research guides that include contact information, citation advice, background sources, and relevant databases.
Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles Reasons to Use the JMU Libraries' Databases and Book Collections
  • Scholarly articles or books
    • Scholarly articles are peer-reviewed by experts in the specific field.
    • Books that are scholarly in nature have been vetted by professional editors and are extensively sourced and footnoted.
    • Not all books are created equal: learn about the credentials of the book’s author(s) and publishers (see the “Evaluating Sources” link below).
  • (as opposed to) Google
    • Google is geared toward sites that sell products; Google makes money through its search engine.
    • Amateur, unverified, or otherwise unscholarly resources often appear near among the top hits in a Google search.
    (and as opposed to) Wikipedia
    • Wikipedia is a user content-created platform.
    • It is a reference source and is meant to be introductory, not analytical, in nature.
    • Wikipedia pages can be modified by anybody with an account, rendering them unstable and potentially unreliable.

Search Tips: tips on identifying different search terms (keywords) to help find relevant sources as well as how to use Boolean operators.

Evaluating Sources: not all sources are created equal, and this link offers help in evaluating whether a source is adequate for the research paper or project a client is working on. You can also point clients to the Evaluating Online Resources page in the UWC's "Writing Guides and Handouts" site.

JMU Libraries Citing Sources home: a one-stop shop for JMU Libraries' APA, Chicago/Turabian, MLA, and discipline-specific citation guides, as well as citation tools (RefWorks, Zotero, and Mendeley). You can also point clients to the UWC's Citing Your Sources/Formatting Your Paper page.

Consulting with Multilingual Writers

Strategies for helping all writers, including multilingual writers

  • Make sure your client understands the terminology in their assignment prompt, grading rubric, instructor feedback, and/or course discussion/lecture notes. Take time to review the document(s) and terminology, and ask the writer to explain in their own words.
  • Make sure your client understands your consulting conversation. Instead of asking yes/no "Does that make sense?" questions, slow down and ask the writer to explain in their own words.
  • Ask open-ended questions: “What are you saying in this paragraph?” and “What is your assignment about?”
  • Look for and ask for examples: “Can you show me where you analyzed the source in this paragraph?”
  • Model examples: If your client is struggling with a specific issue (grammar, sentence structure, punctuation, etc.), model how to do it before asking them to do it on their own. 
  • Ask for help, starting with Multilingual Student Services here in the Learning Centers and the MSS Director, Dr. Kristen Kelley. Kristen is a great resource and is happy to chat with UWC consultants if you have questions about working with multilingual writers. 

How Multilingual Student Services can help writers

  • Advocates for multilingual students 
    • Includes advocating for students for extra time on tests and communicating with professors about how to accommodate students 
  • Helps with language acquisition, second language writing, and academic writing
    • Offers assistance in writing honors and master's theses and doctoral dissertations
    • Aids in students' understanding of classroom and departmental policies
    • Aids in transition to a new cultural environment
    • Specializes in grammatical guidance (if you have multilingual clients who specifically want to work on grammar, consider recommending them to MSS)

Language to use when referring your UWC client to Multilingual Student Services

  • Emphasize that the UWC and MSS are resources the student can use together!
  • “We can keep working with you here at the Writing Center on your writing, and if you want to focus more on language as well you can also utilize Multilingual Student Services. These are complementary resources, so you’re welcome to work in both centers even in the same week!”

If your client has never used Multilingual Student Services before, it's good to show them where to go

  • MSS is located in the Learning Centers near the Communication Center. If you're exiting the UWC, walk to the front desk and then turn left down the hallway. Dr. Kelley’s office is located in the back right corner, and appointments take place in Room 1150.
  • Click into the MSS website.
  • Help your client sign up for an MSS face-to-face or online session (note that UWC clients will have to register for a new, separate WCOnline account to use this resource).
LGBTQIA+ Awareness and Consulting

JMU's Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE) offers useful support, resources, and information.

JMU's Safe Zone is a network of faculty, staff and students who believe that every member of the university community should have an equal opportunity to grow and learn in a safe and open environment.

The JMU Counseling Center offers free, confidential counseling to any student interested in receiving support. The Counseling Center's Resources for LGBTQIQA Students page organizes resources in an internal navigation bar.

Resources for COB 300 Group Sessions

To prepare for group sessions with COB 300 teams, log into the UWC Professional Development Canvas site and click on the "Resources for COB 300 Group Sessions" link available on the front page. The page behind the link offers four useful resources created by UWC Hall of Famer Jack Mairs:

  • An annotated version of the "COB 300: Integrative Business Student Guide" that COB 300 teams work from. 
  • Big-picture guidelines and suggestions about working with COB 300 groups.
  • Advice on helping groups with their Executive Summary and Narrative sections.
  • Advice on helping groups with their Exhibit sections.

Our Consultant Field Manual offers help regarding planning for and managing group sessions, using the UWC big digital displays, and "proof-of-visit" slips for groups.

Common Writing-Intensive Assignments (ENG and SCOM)

The resources belowperhaps now a bit out of date (~2020)outline assignments, common concerns shared by UWC clients and consultants, and strategies and questions that UWC consultants have identified.

Sample prompts are available in the UWC's Canvas site under "Common UWC Assignment Prompts."   

Scholarship and Fellowship Applications

Just as in any other UWC session, you should ask client applying for a scholarship or fellowship for the prompt. The guides and links below are a good first stop if you have time to read ahead. Rudy assists with JMU's scholarship and fellowship efforts and may be able to address specific questions and/or to direct you to additional resources. 

Helping with Résumés 

We should refer writers who ask for help with résumés—particularly résumé strategy and formatting—to the University Career Center on the 3rd floor of the Student Success Center.

This said, clients often come to the UWC with a stack of application materials: résumés, cover letters, personal statements, and other application essays. You can certainly look at clients' résumés as you help them to craft these overlapping texts. And if a client brings in a cover letter and then asks for help in editing a résumé or curriculum vitae (CV) for clarity and concision, you can certainly lend your trained consultant eyes. 

Working with ROTC Writers: Writing in the Army Style

JMU's ROTC writers should be familiar with the concerns outlined in the Writing in the Army Style PowerPoint (this resource may have been updated since 2017). Page 5 in the PowerPoint offers an overview of key writing concerns. The much longer Student Readings file (also from 2017) includes very specific Army Regulations for writing and formatting documents, models for reports and correspondence, and Federal Plain Language Guidelines (an extended style guide that may have been updated since 2017).

Helping Students Experiencing Stress or Distress

"Seeking academic help is often a way that students can safely name their distress.
Peer educators don't always feel equipped to handle students experiencing distress in a session."
 – Kristen Kelley

A degree of stress is normal. Sometimes, though, the intensity of a UWC session can bring academic or non-academic stressors to the fore. In other cases, UWC visitors might choose to disclose or reveal distress through their speech, writing, or behavior. They may express distress in different ways:

  • Freeze: they may shut down during the session (just coming to the UWC may have been a big accomplishment). Despite their best intentions, they may have difficulty focusing or understanding/acting on advice; they may express (or you may sense) paralyzing doubt or indecision about their work or other academic and non-academic concerns; they may express hopelessness and despair.
  • Flee: they may talk rapidly or seem restless, tense, or fidgety (often with nervous or quivering legs). They may not register or respond to the reactions of the people around them (starting with you); they may disconnect or withdraw during the session (physically or emotionally); they may talk about not turning the paper in at all, not going to class, or needing to just get home
  • Fight: they may express deep frustration (perhaps returning to the same concern repeatedly); they may offer responses that seem out of proportion with the topic at hand; they may argue or become angry (perhaps directing the anger at you, because you are handy and won't bite)

The rapport we work to establish in all of our sessions becomes even more important when writers show signs of distress. Favor "connecting" language over "isolating" language:

  • Connecting language
    • "This is hard"
    • "You are not alone in this"
    • "You came in and we can work on this right now, together"
    • "This is intense. Let me grab someone who can better help us.”
  • Isolating language
    • "You should have…"
    • "Have you…?"
    • "Why haven’t you…?"
    • "I can’t imagine waiting this long…"

The "Connecting Language" above offers starting points for strategies for helping writers who disclose or experience distress:

  • Tend and mend
    • Listen: a sympathetic ear and a few inviting, open-ended phrases can unlock doors
    • Validate the emotions that the writer shares: the situation/concept/effort/assignment is challenging, and you know that others have found/are finding it challenging
    • Affirm that it was a good decision to seek help: the writer was right to come to the UWC, and you are ready, willing, and able to assist.
    • Repeat: spend time here, resisting the temptation to offer quick advice, however well-meant, reasonable, and good that advice may be
  • Help the writer to focus on the work at hand
    • Act locally: making tangible headway in one task can make everything else seem more manageable
    • Use open-ended language: enable  the writer to talk and in turn to assert a degree of control over the situation with language that invites responses:
    • "Tell me about your paper/your concerns"
    • "What else could you do here?"
    • "What do you think would happen if you moved this/started here?"
    • "Is there another way to say this or order this?"
    • Be flexible: try switching things up, perhaps volunteering to take notes or to type what the writer says
    • Create a plan: an outline, an ordered series of manageable steps, a strategy, or resources to consult
  • Use your resources/consider the bigger picture
    • Remember your boundaries and your limitations in terms of your role and your time: our job—and our human impulse—is to help, but we shouldn't over-promise or over-function, nor should we feel guilt when we can't make everything better    
    • Clear the air: "This isn't productive. I'll take a minute, you take a minute, and we'll try again in a moment."
    • Involve/reach out to a fellow consultant (ANY fellow consultant, whether already in another session or not): you're not confessing incompetence, you're not giving up, you're not deferring to authority, and you're not ganging up on the writer; instead, you're trying a new tactic: a fresh set of ears, a reset on the situation, a different dynamic
    • Help the writer to identify other campus resources. You're not saying "You need professional help"; rather, you're helping the writer to know about the options: "I know we have offices on campus that can help with any situation." With the writer, you can check out JMU's Campus Resources page (just type "campus resources" into the JMU site's search bar).
    • Ask for input from a UWC faculty member: if you're uncomfortable or concerned (for the writer or for yourself), don't ignore the issue and don't wait until after the session
  • After the session
    • Process what you heard, saw, and did through conversations with your fellow consultants
    • The JMU Counseling Center's Purple Folder offers additional resources for processing and acting on your UWC session
    • Share your session report and your impressions with Rudy
Online Consulting 

Never consulted online before? Need a refresher? Haven't been into WCOnline recently? Start with our UWC Online Consulting guide.

Working with Groups of Writers and Group-Written Papers 

Group sessions in the UWC can be truly formative as group members work to come together as a team, identify needs and opportunities, and establish a conversation. 

This section starts with general policies and guidelines for group sessions and then offers help regarding the UWC big screen digital displays and online group sessions.

Group Policies and Guidelines

We prefer to work with writers on their own writing. In an ideal session, we help with the writing produced by clients who are present during the session.

  • If a client has written only Section A of a paper, we should not work with that client to revise Sections B and C of the paper. 
  • In some group projects, one or two members are assigned to serve as editors for the whole paper. In these cases, we can help the editors to communicate with their team members as they work to revise the paper.
  • Even relatively small groups may have trouble finding a common time for a UWC session. This is fine, and you may work with the group members able to be present on the full project. 

Groups do not always check the box next to "Check if this a group-written paper" in the UWC's session request form, and different group members may sign the group up for their second or third UWC sessions. If you see a group session request in WCOnline and can't trace it back, or if the group gathering in the waiting area might be yours, resolve to ask if they've been in before and for the name of the group member who scheduled the previous meeting. Doing so will help you connect the dots in your session report for other UWC consultants.

Groups often sign up for less time than they need, especially if it's their first visit or if they are trying to wrangle conflicting schedules. This may be the first UWC session for all of the group members, and even UWC returners may never have worked through a group session.

  • Be understanding, establish a reasonable agenda for the session, work during the session to affirm a set of transferable concerns, and note early and late in the session that the group might usefully return for additional visits.

Groups are often concerned that the different sections they have written read as one cohesive document. They may have written their different sections independently. They may not have talked before coming to the UWC, and they may look to you for help in resolving their differences regarding grammar, punctuation, and style. This is all good:

  • Foreground the time constraint, ask for an overview of the prompt and the project, and then ask about the group's specific concerns or specific sections that they want to focus on for this UWC visit. Groups often know what they need to work on.
  • Resist the impulse to start with page 1, paragraph 1. Resist the impulse to ask for time to skim the paper silently. Instead, let the group direct you to their concerns and their conversation, and then facilitate. Ask questions, play the smart new outside reader role, and direct the group members to resources.
  • As the group members read through their drafts during a session, they often note and address content and style inconsistencies between sections. Your outside reader responses—"I’m confused about…"—can help them identify connections between topics and add concepts or key word transitions to bring separately written parts together. You can also help writers to notice discrepancies in terminology or information and inconsistencies like capitalization or abbreviations.
  • You can pull the appropriate manual off our library shelf and you can share the appropriate online resources, available through our Citing Your Sources/Formatting Your Paper page. Instead of line-by-line copyediting, work to build a set of concerns, strategies, and resources that the group can implement on their own.

Multimedia Sessions

Groups often benefit from a multimedia component or an online option, both to help everyone see the same screen at the same time and to include remote participants.

  • If you know you’re working with a group, consider taking a few minutes before the session to get set up on one of the UWC’s big flat screen monitors. Then, at the beginning of the session, take the minute to have one of the gorup members send you their draft or a link to their draft (granting you editing privileges). 
  • If you/the group opts not to use a flat screen display, work during the session to affirm repeatedly which section of the paper you are looking at.

Online Sessions

The WCOnline interface presents challenges for online sessions with larger groups.

  • If a client indicates that one other group member would like to participate in the session, they can text their group member the WCOnline session URL once the session starts.
  • For groups of three or more, you can paste your Zoom or Webex room address into the WCOnline chat for the client to share with the rest of the group. You might then suggest that the group use Zoom or Webex's "Share Screen" function to share their draft, and you might pair this approach with a request for access (with editing privileges) to their Google doc. Check out our Online Consulting page for additional advice.
Using the UWC's Digital Displays

The UWC's big screen digital displays are really useful during group sessions. They can also be useful during hybrid sessions, when some participants are in person and others are face to face, and for socially distanced one-to-one sessions.

  • The UWC has two big screens, and we can also request use of the big private group room to the right as you enter the Learning Centers.
  • This Crestron Air Media Walkthrough document (last updated 9/19/21) offers instructions for sharing your Windows, IPad, and Mac screens on the UWC's big screen digital displays.
  • Note that there are several steps and a learning/trial-and-error process involved in the effort to get your device's screen up on one of our UWC digital displays. Plan to test your device against the instructions above before you decide to use one of the screens on short notice.
Proof of Visit Slips

If you are working in a face-to face session and your client asks for proof that they came in for a UWC session, proof-of-visit slips are available at the front desk in a folder next to the phone. You can ask the office assistant at the desk or another UWC consultant for help.

  • Instead of worrying whether a client "deserves" a slip based on investment or engagement, simply register on the slip how long the session lasted.
  • Groups have a special full-page proof-of-visit form. You can pass it around for them to add their names and then can specify the number of group members present when you complete your part of the form.
  • Use a pen when you fill out the form and then circle/initial the length of the session.

If you are working in an online session, you have a couple of options:

  • In WCOnline, you can type a sentence like this into the chat: “I certify that Jeff Smith participated in a 40-minute UWC consultation on November 14, 2024.” Your client can then take a screenshot (Mac - shift+command+4) or print their screen (PC - PrtScn). You can use the same approach if you're working in Zoom or Webex with a single client or a group of clients.
  • If your client indicates reservations regarding this option (e.g., they have trouble with the technology or want more official proof), you can promise to supply the required proof in an email. If you don't want to write directly to the professor, you can send an email to Rudy attesting to the participants, the date and time of the session, and its duration (e.g. "Jeff Smith and Alice Jones participated with UWC Consultant Jenna Adams in a 30-minute online UWC consultation on September 24, 2023"). Remember to include all participating clients' email addresses and the professor's name and email address in your email to Rudy. Rudy will then write to the professor.

Clients who seem focused principally on securing their face-to-face or online proof-of-visit slip might benefit from knowing a bit more about what we do and what we offer in the UWC:

  • This may be their first UWC visit, and you can share a bit about the UWC and your job description as a UWC consultant. You can even open up the UWC Consultant Roadmap, which features our Mission, Vision, and Values statements along with the priorities that UWC consultants work through and toward in every session.
  • If a client insists on focusing on surface issues like punctuation or formatting, that is their right. However, you can note that you still need to understand the purpose, audience, and context for the piece of writing if you are going to give them effective advice.
  • As in all UWC sessions, you can ask to see the prompt and rubric as a means of assessing and beginning to discuss the paper's content, organization, and other choices. If nothing else, students want to please the professor and get a good grade.
Why and How to Extend a Session

First-time visitors, clients looking to earn extra credit or a required proof-of-visit slip, and groups trying to wrangle tight schedules often sign up for 30-minute sessions when more UWC time would be better.

  • Why (and when) to suggest extending a 30-minute session: If your next 30-minute block is open and if you sense early on in the session that your client(s) might benefit from a bit more time than 25 minutes of actual session time, you can suggest extending the session into the next half hour. Extending the session does not mean that you need to keep talking through an additional 30 minutes; instead, you are just ensuring you have time to finish the conversation.
  • How to extend a 30-minute session: Get into the client's WCOnline session request form to extend the session end-time for an additional 30 minutes.

WCOnline is set to prevent students from scheduling more than 60 minutes of UWC consulting in a row, and you shouldn't use your WCOnline powers to circumvent this policy. The aim with this policy is to avoid cognitive overload for both you and your clients.

Total Sessions Allowed

Total sessions each day: UWC clients may schedule two non-consecutive sessions each day (up to 120 total minutes) through WCOnline. Ideally, clients will use the hour or more between sessions to process the consultation, to apply the learning, or to substantially revise their work. 

  • You might suggest that your client return later in the day for a bunch of good reasons
    • "Getting through all of the paper"
    • Shopping around for a tutor who will do the work
    • Two distinct purposes: two different stages in the writing process, or two different papers
    • A new question about the same paper—perhaps prompted by the first UWC session
    • An exceptionally long paper which requires time to introduce and assess
  • If you know your client is returning the same day
    • Work to establish a to-do list and to identify resources
    • Be quick and specific in filing your session report
    • If you know a client is returning for second session in a single day, read the earlier session report and then ask about the earlier session: what it focused on, how it worked, how the paper has changed in the interim...

Total sessions each week: We do not limit the number of sessions each week, but let Rudy know if a client begins monopolizing you or the UWC. We want to foster learning, rather than dependency.

Walk-in Sessions

Clients may sign up for a session just before or even just after each 30-minute block begins. Remember to refresh your WCOnline screen frequently.


If your scheduled session ends early or if you don't have a scheduled session, be prepared to help clients who walk in to the UWC. If you aren't working with a client, sit near the UWC walk-in table—the table visible from the front desk, just to the right on the main floor—and face the front door so that you can see new arrivers.

Greet new arrivers warmly. If they need writing help, ask whether they have registered with the UWC in WC Online. You should tell walk-in visitors where you are in your shift, where you are in your current session, whether anyone else is waiting, and what their chances are of working with a consultant this hour. If prospects look bleak, suggest that they try to reserve an appointment through the UWC scheduler.

  1. Ask the new arrivers to register in WC Online if they haven't done so already AND to sign up on the paper sign-in sheet next to the walk-in computer before directing them to wait at the walk-in table.
  2. After you finish a session—and write your session report—consult the sign-in sheet and check out the walk-in table.
  3. Each time you begin a walk-in session, write your initials on the paper sign-in sheet next to the client's name to let other consultants know who is next on the list.
  4. Complete a session report for every walk-in session, no matter how long or how short it may have been.

If your hour on the scheduler was open, click on the hour and fill out the appointment request form with the student as you would normally before starting the session. If this is your second session during the hour, you will need to fill out an off-schedule report

Academic Integrity Concerns

Final Papers and Take-home Exams 

UWC policy is that we are not the Honor Police. It is up to clients to determine whether they are able to receive help. It is best for clients to check with their professors before coming, but we will not turn them away unless the prompt explicitly states, "You can't receive any help on this paper." We recommend that consultants ask the following questions at the beginning of these sessions: 

"Is this a final paper/take-home exam for your class?" (or, if the session request form/prompt indicates that this is the case, "I notice that this is a final paper for your class.") "Are you allowed to receive help on this paper? Did your professor say so?" 

"Not sure? Okay. We can still work together, but we will have to stick to basic clarity and organization." 

In sum, the client might not know, but we have covered our responsibility by asking and by affirming. You are not responsible for a client's lapse in judgement. In these sessions, be extra mindful about not supplying ideas or any type of content. Focusing on clarity and organization is always a safe route.  


We are also not the Plagiarism Police. However, we are allies to our clients, so we need to make them aware of writing choices that might get them into trouble. Here are a few situations that might arise.  

Paper writing service/ghost writer 

For the most part, we do not see students who are buying papers or having someone else write the entire paper. But it has happened. You might recognize this issue if a student seems particularly clueless about the content of the paper, has no idea what words in the paper mean (advanced or technical vocabulary), or has strange lapses/elevations in style or vocabulary level. Do not accuse a student; instead, a professional and tactful response might be to simply report what you are noticing: 

Consultant: "I'm noticing that the style and vocabulary changes abruptly right here and here in your paper. I'm wondering why that happens. Can you tell me about your writing process?" 

Client: "Well, um, I got some help on this paper."  

Consultant: "You should be really careful about that. If I'm noticing it, others will as well, and the Honor Code is pretty clear here. I wouldn't want you to lose points or even fail a paper." 

Citation confusion 

Most "plagiarism" is probably unintentional, a problem that results from one or more of the following situations: 

  1. Clients are unsure about how to paraphrase and summarize source material 
  2. Because they read it right before writing and/or used complex academic. articles, the clients didn't fully understand the source material and, therefore, have trouble putting the source material into their own words. 
  3. The clients come from cultures in which citation is not necessary, ideas are not "owned," and/or academic concerns about intellectual property don't quite make sense to them.

We prefer to address these as learning issues, not lawbreaking: 

Consultant: "I'm noticing that the style/language changes in this sentence. Is this language in the source?" 

Client: "Maybe." 

Consultant: "If it is, you'll want to be sure to avoid borrowing language from the source without quoting. In either case, you'll need an in-text citation and a listing in your References/Works Cited section." 

Client: "Oh. I didn't realize we had to be that careful. The article was really tough to understand." 

Consultant: "Well, we can talk about some critical reading strategies and ways to help you digest the material so that you can use your own words."

Requests for Private Tutoring or Editing Services 

If a UWC client asks you to tutor them privately outside the UWC and/or outside your normal UWC hours, you should politely refuse. You can say that doing so is against UWC employee policy (it is!).

The same is perhaps even more true regarding requests that you edit papers. We train clients to edit. We collaborate as they edit. We do not edit independently. Indeed, doing so may constitute one or more violations of the JMU Honor Code (e.g., if the student is being evaluated on his or her grammar and punctuation, and if someone else does the editing, the JMU Honor Code comes into play). You might point this out to the student. 

Clients may also ask if we can refer them to a professional editor. Please direct those requests to the Writing Center Coordinator. While we may know professional editors in the community we can contact, we will do so only if the writer supplies explicit permission from the advising professor or committee.

Non-Clients Studying in the UWC

The booths and table in the Learning Centers' entry hallway are open for use, but the UWC itself is NOT a study space.

Students who do not have a UWC appointment or who are not seeking writing help cannot use the UWC space. Even if we are not busy, please inform students looking to set up camp that the UWC is a private consulting space reserved at all times for UWC clients, consultants, and Learning Centers staff. You can point out the front booths as an alternative. If students argue or wish to complain, please contact a UWC faculty member. If no UWC faculty member is present, look for Learning Centers Senior Associate Director Audrey Robinson (her office is just around the corner of the hallway to the SMLC) or for Learning Centers Executive Director Laura Miller (her office is all of the way down the hallway to the right in the UWC). If there's no one to enlist, do not press the contest; instead, send an email to Rudy (

Clients who show up early to finish drafting before a scheduled session are welcome. Clients who complete a session with you and would like to remain in the UWC to revise are welcome to do so. Indeed, if you're still on shift when they finally pack up, it's nice to check in with them.

As a benefit of employment, UWC consultants are welcome to use the UWC space for quiet study whenever it is open.

Illness Policy

Do not be a hero, and do not wait to see if you will feel better in an hour. In other words, work to get better instead of feeling miserable while sharing the same space/air with your UWC colleagues and clients.

If you know you are sick, send an email as soon as possible to Rudy (

If your shift is imminent, send the email and call the UWC, instead of sharing the news in person. Rudy's phone number is 540-568-2986, and the Learning Centers' phone number is 540-568-1759.

The UWC does not need proof of your illness. We hired you, we know and trust you, and we are confident you won't offer a false report of illness. 

Please delay your return until you have been fever-free for at least 24 hours and you are not frequently coughing, sneezing, or otherwise contagious. Again, do not be a hero.

Missing a Shift, and How to Plan Ahead

You may miss up to four consulting hours during the semester for personal leave. You don't need to provide a reason, and the UWC will not ask you for a reason, but you do need to let Rudy know at least two weeks ahead of time.

You do not have to use personal leave for official religious obligations, class-related obligations (like required attendance at an event), or job interviews, but you should still let Rudy know at least two weeks ahead of time.

Shifts missed due to illness do NOT count against your 4-hour personal leave allowance (scroll up for our UWC Illness Policy).

You may NOT miss professional development meetings for personal reasons. Please do not request to miss those hours.

Please don't feel that you must take a shift off.


If an emergency means you will not be able to make your consulting shift on short notice, work to address the situation

  • Your first step is to call the UWC: Rudy's number is 540-568-2986; The Learning Centers front desk number is 540-568-1759.
  • If no one answers the phone—it's a Sunday, or there's no one staffing the front desk—send an urgent email to Rudy (barretrl for help.

If these first options do not resolve the concern and if your shift begins soon, there are increasingly desperate options

  • If no one has reserved your time, click on the time in WCOnline and scroll down to the "Administrative Options" at the bottom of the session request form. Use the placeholder option there to block out the session (you're basically scheduling a session with yourself).
  • If someone has reserved your time and another consultant is available, click on the time in WCOnline and scroll down to click on "Edit Appointment." Scroll down in the new window to the "Administrative Options" box and click on "Move Appt." Move the appointment to the open consultant, and then email the consultant (you can find his/her/their email address in one of our past all-staff emails).
  • If someone has reserved your time and no other consultant is available, you need make things right: click on the client's name at the top of the session request form to get their name and email address and immediately email the client to apologize and to suggest alternatives. You should also email the other consultants on shift. Having worked through these steps, you should scroll down to the bottom of the session request form to cancel the session.
Inclement Weather Policy

If JMU is closed or delayed, the University Writing Center is also closed or delayed. This guidance applies to most online sessions (e.g., if you are slated to be physically present in the UWC for your session, whether it is face-to-face or online).

If JMU is not closed but bad weather is creating unsafe conditions for you to get to campus, use your best judgement. Try calling Rudy (540-568-2986) and the Learning Centers front desk (540-568-1759).and then email Rudy ( as early as possible, and we can block out your hours.

If you are working a UWC shift, bad weather is upon us, and you feel that you need to leave before the end of your shift to get home safely, you may do so (even if JMU has been slow to officially close). Just talk to or email Rudy so that we can block off the schedule and/or inform clients.

Filing Off-Schedule Reports

You may need to file an off-schedule report for a number of good reasons

  • You've finished your session, accept a walk-in client, and don't have an open half-hour slot to enter them into.
  • You volunteer—with Rudy's preapproval—for sessions outside your normally scheduled hours.
  • You pick up a shift in an emergency and want to keep the books straight.

No matter how rushed things seem in the moment, remember that the client still needs to register for an account with WCOnline.

If you know that you will need to file an off-schedule report, it is a good idea to make notes for yourself at the beginning of the session regarding the student's particulars—the student's name spelled correctly and the email address they used when registering for their WCOnline account, as well as the course, professor, and due date—as this information won't show up elsewhere.

To file an off-schedule report, click on the little paper icon under your name in the upper left corner of the WCOnline main screen, scroll down the client's name, enter the appropriate day and time range, and then scroll down to your name as the tutor of record. Fill out the form as you would normally.

UWC Session Observations and Observation Forms

The UWC Session Observation Form is available through our "UWC Professional Development" Canvas homepage and through the Discussion Board link in the navigation bar.

Check out the UWC Session Observation Form and the instructions available in Canvas well before you actually observe your session.

You should observe all of the familiar UWC session observation guidelines: email, text, or talk with the consultant ahead of time to ask if you can observe the session (only one observer per session), check out the client's session request form ahead of time, arrive ten minutes early, make sure the consultant affirms with the client that observing the session is okay, sit at a distance and perhaps at an angle, and then be quiet as a mouse. After the session ends, thank the client and leave time to debrief with the consultant in one of our two quiet rooms.

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