For Undergraduates-Global Communication Center - Carnegie Mellon University

For Undergraduate Students

Grammar Group

For the Fall semester, the GCC will be offering weekly grammar groups on Tuesdays from 11-12.  Each week, we will cover a different type of sentence or paragraph and practice by creating original sentence or paragraphs modeled on that type.  There will be approximately 30 minutes of homework for participants to complete prior to each session. For more information please visit the Grammar Group page.

When we receive your project at the GCC, our first priority is to make sure you are meeting your instructor's assignment criteria.  A perfectly written paper that does not meet the assignment guidelines or your instructor's expectations will not receive a satisfactory grade. If your instructor gave you an assignment prompt, be sure to upload it when you make your appointment.  We also like to see any model essays your professor may have given you as examples of a well-written paper. We will base our recommendations on the this essay and show you how to use it to guide your own writing.

However, a model essay, assignment prompt, or even a draft is not necessary to visit the GCC. 

Make an appointment to see a tutor now!

Below are some ways you might use our services.

Ways you can use the GCC

  • Brainstorm.  You can come in just to talk through your ideas and work with a tutor to create an outline, thesis, or some other text to help you get started.
  • Receive feedback on a draft.  Upload a draft you have created and ask your tutor to give you feedback.  We prioritize making sure your draft meets the assignment criteria, makes sense to an outside reader, is coherent and well-organized, and has sufficient depth and complexity.
  • Develop a presentation.  If you are getting ready to give an oral presentation, you may want some help creating effective PowerPoint or Prezi slides.  Our tutors will talk to you about research showing what makes an effective presentation and work with you to develop slides.
  • Rehearse an oral presentation.  You can use our tutors as an audience who can give you feedback on your oral presentation skills.  We have a private conference room we can use to allow you to run through your presentation.  We can even videotape your presentation and review it with you.
  • Design figures, graphs, and tables.  If you are working on a technical project, how you present your data is central to explaining your research and argument.  Our tutors will review some of the principles of effective data visualization with you and help you present your data so your main findings and conclusions are clear to readers.
  • Work through writer's block.  If you are experiencing writer's block, our tutors can help you select a topic and develop a plan for action.  We may ask you about your writing process and make suggestions about ways to structure your writing time.
  • Make sense of difficult readings or research.  If you are struggling with difficult readings or having trouble figuring out how to put together research you have collected, our tutors can review some reading and note-taking strategies that can help you make sense of difficult concepts or manage a large amount of information.
  • Attend one of our workshops.  See our list of upcoming workshops for more information.

Wondering about what else we might support?  Just ask: gcc-cmu@andrew.cmu.edu.

Our Philosophy on Grammar 

A paper can be grammatically correct and still very difficult for readers to understand.  Likewise, a paper can be logical, clear and concise even though it contains a few grammatical errors.  In our experience, most readers will forgive a few grammatical errors if they can understand what the writer is trying to say.  Errors become most noticeable when a writer’s thoughts or arguments are unclear.

Our philosophy in the GCC is to first focus on making your arguments and ideas clear before we focus on errors. We believe this focus on clarity will improve your writing (and your grade!)  more than just eliminating grammatical errors. We also believe that strategies for clear writing can be taught more easily than English grammar rules, which can only be learned through repetition over long periods of time.

We can be a resource for helping you improve your grammar, but we think that helping you clarify your ideas and arguments should take priority. However, if you would prefer to focus on correctness rather than on ideas, you can tell your tutor when you make your appointment.

Workshops

The GCC offers several workshops throughout the Fall and Spring semesters. These works are open and free to all CMU students across all disciplines. For more information on our workshops, including upcoming workshops please visit the Workshops page.