Learning Commons

Writing Assistants

If you're looking for specific information, click below to jump to that portion of the page. We encourage you, however, to read all of the information below.

Writing as an Ongoing Process

Everyone can become a stronger writer. There are many different types of writing based upon variations among academic disciplines, professional fields, or even between assignments within the same course. The key is to think about writing as an ongoing process, involving an initial draft, seeking feedback, refining the writing, and seeking additional feedback.

Work with a Writing Assistant

Since it can be challenging to step out of our "own head" to evaluate our writing, seeking feedback through collaboration can be extremely helpful at any stage of writing, both for undergraduate and graduate students. One of the best resources for this active, collaborative process at USM is the team of Writing Assistants and Graduate Writing Assistants available to any current USM student. Our writing appointments are student directed, which means you tell us what you want to work on, and we will take it from there. 

Our Writing Assistants can help students with any aspect of the writing process, including but not limited to:

  • Creating an outline for the paper
  • Reviewing a first draft
  • Identifying issues with grammar and sentence structure
  • Providing a reader’s perspective on the final draft of the work

Writing Assistants do not serve as editors of students’ papers.  Rather, they assist students in a manner that moves along the writing process, and strengthens the students’ own skills and confidence with writing. Students should arrive at appointments with a description of the original assignment, a first draft if possible, and a willingness to be open to feedback. 

Scheduling a Writing Appointment

Before scheduling an appointment, please make sure to review our policies and expectations. To view the guidelines, please click HERE.

As a USM student, you can use our self-service online calendar to view available appointments and schedule a time with a Writing Assistant or Graduate Writing Assistant You can also use the USM Quick Link in your "MyUSM" portal to access the calendar.

If new to the system, you will need to create an account. MAKE SURE TO DO SO WITH YOUR MAINESTREET EMAIL AND PASSWORD. Watch our Scheduling A Writing Appointment video to familiarize yourself with the process.

Students can choose from appointments on all three USM campuses, and also request that appointments be delivered live online. 

All appointments are 50 minutes in length to allow the Writing Assistant 10 minutes to prepare for the next appointment.

Please feel free to drop by The Learning Commons in Portland or Gorham, or the Writing Center at Lewiston-Auburn College. If there is a Writing Assistant available, he or she will be happy to work with you. It is always best, though, to plan ahead and schedule an appointment in advance.This is especially true toward the end of the semester. If you need assistance, please call The Learning Commons at 207-780-4228.

Meet Online with a Writing Assistant

Zoom is an online meeting platform, much like Skype or Google Hangout. Every USM student now has a Zoom account, which can be accessed via the Launch Pad in the upper left-hand corner in the MyUSM portal.

Writing appointments offered at The Learning Commons can be accessed live online. This means, as a USM student, you can work with your Writing Assistant from anywhere at the time of your appointment. Zoom will allow you and your tutor to: 

  • See each other via your device’s camera (for example, a computer or smartphone webcam)
  • Hear each other via your microphone
  • Share your screen and documents while having your conversation
  • Write on a virtual whiteboard as part of your active practice
  • Save what was written on the whiteboard
  • Have the option to record the entire online session for later review (NOTE: this is the student’s choice)

 

Here is how to work with your Writing Assistant online:

  1. When scheduling the appointment, select “Yes - Schedule Online Appointment” from the drop-down menu instead of the default option of “No - Meet Face-To-Face at the Center”. (NOTE: if this option is not visible, it means that appointment is not available for online tutoring.) 
  2. A few minutes before your appointment, log back into this calendar system, open the appointment window, and click on the link labeled JOIN MY APPOINTMENT to start your online session.
  3. Upon arrival in the meeting, you may need to turn on your microphone and camera. (NOTE: we strongly recommend using both your microphone and camera during the session, as it will provide the best options for making the most of that tutoring appointment.)

To learn more about each of the Zoom functions, such as using the whiteboard, chat feature, or recording the session, please see below.  

Other Writing Resources

  • Need citation help? The team at USM's Lewiston-Auburn Writing Center created this citation help website.
  • The Center for Writing Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne compiled an excellent resource called The Writer's Workshop: Writer Resources. This includes a grammar handbook, information on citation styles, writing tips, and resources for English Language Learners. To access it, click here: Writers Workshop
  • One of the most frequently-used citation reference sites is Purdue OWL from Purdue University. It is updated regularly to reflect any changes in APA or MLA format.
  • Additional ways to make writing a collaborative process include:

    • Reviewing drafts of your work with your faculty during office hours
    • Providing peer review with another student in the course
    • Forming and participating in a "writing group" with peers who are also invested in becoming stronger writers