Business Communication Center


Business Communication Center

The purpose of the Jindal School of Management (JSOM), Business Communication Center is to help students improve their writing and speaking skills in order to become more effective communicators. The ability to communicate clearly through writing and speaking is a key differentiator in the business world. Being smart and having great ideas is important, but the ability to communicate those ideas clearly will drive your success.

Make an appointment in the JSOM Business Communication Center and let experienced tutors help you strengthen your abilities to make smart choices when you write and deliver oral presentations. Read our Business Communication Center FAQs for more information.

Business Communication Center Locations

JSOM Addition 12.106 (New Addition, 2nd Floor)
Jindal School of Management SM 43
The University of Texas at Dallas
800 W. Campbell Road
Richardson, TX 75080-3021
(972) 883-5385
Email

Thanks for seeking information about the JSOM Business Communication Center. Communication abilities, including writing and speaking, are rated as one of the most desired qualities in today’s job market. In your professional life, you will spend a great deal of time trying to explain, direct, and persuade other people through your writing and speaking skills. Your ability to do this clearly and effectively will have a direct bearing on your success in the business world.

The JSOM Business Communication Center is here to assist you as you work to develop your writing and speaking communication skills. In your writing, whether you need help organizing your thoughts, tightening your sentences, improving document design, or proofreading, our tutors will give you the feedback necessary to help you improve the clarity and impact of your written work. To enhance your speaking skills, our tutors will help you to strengthen your PowerPoint presentations, Toastmaster speeches, and other oral presentations. You can even practice your speech and get tips on how to make the delivery more effective. In addition, cameras are available for you to check out for class assignments.

Appointments are not required but are strongly recommended so that you get the time you need. I encourage you to take the first step toward developing your skills as a business communicator and explore what the JSOM Business Communication Center has to offer.

McClain Watson, PhD

Director, Business Communication Center

Session Times

  • Sessions are 30 minutes long.
  • Students may book one, 30-minute session per day under the following guidelines:
    • Students who visit more than three times per week may be asked to visit with the coordinator and/or the director to assess student needs and best use of the BCC. Failure to comply may result in restrictions.
    • Students who visit more than three times per week may be asked to comply with a Writing/Speaking Improvement Plan to help the student improve and to ensure the BCC is meeting student needs. Failure to agree to and comply with the plan may result in restrictions.
    • Students booking second sessions for the same document/task must bring the following, and failure to comply may result in restrictions:
      • Comet Card
      • Printed, double-spaced copy of document to review
      • Original draft of student document with notes
      • Revised draft in which student has applied issues identified in first session
      • All tutor notes and Areas to Improve Feedback form

Items to Bring to a Session

  • Students are required to bring the following to every session:
    • Comet Card
    • A printed, double-spaced copy of the document to review,
    • The professor’s written assignment description, and
    • A writing implement.

Work the BCC Does Not Help With

  • Editing
    Tutors do not edit student documents. Instead, tutors help students identify issues in their work and find solutions. The goal is to help students learn to be better writers and speakers, not to fix student work to help students get better grades.
  • Proofreading
    Tutors will not proofread to edit, but they will provide proofreading tips based on the writing issues identified during a session.
  • Someone else’s work
    Tutors do not provide assistance to students with work that is not their own. The only exception to this rule is for format and citations in a group project.
  • Take-home exams
    Tutors assist students with take-home exams only with prior permission from the professor.
  • Competitions
    Tutors assist students with competition materials only with prior sponsor/advisor permission.
  • Job-search documents specifically designed to assess candidate’s writing skills.(The Southwest Airlines essay required for internship application is an example of this type of document.)
  • Job-search documents when the student has not attended a BCC workshop and POD. Only tutors may book appointments for job-search documents.

Group Projects

Because the BCC’s mission is to assist students in improving their communication skills, each group member is encouraged to attend the session addressing that member’s contribution to the project. However, the BCC recognizes that full attendance, while productive, is not always practical. Therefore, one group member may represent the entire group to gain feedback for the entire project in the following areas:

  • Format
  • Citations and References
  • Group Feedback
    Tutors may review a small portion of each of the writer’s work to identify one major issue that the student may relay to each team member. Tutors will not attempt to “hurry” through the entire document in order to edit. (Note that the tutor will determine if the student’s skill level warrants group feedback.)

Multiple Appointments Policy

Tutors may give permission for two appointments in one day but may limit or prohibit them during high demand weeks. This means that the student must have seen the tutor once so the tutor can justify and authorize the second appointment.

  • Tutor permission is required.
  • Students must enter the name of the tutor who gave permission and a detailed reason for the second appointment in the additional information box when booking the second appointment.
  • Tutors may give permission for:
    • Theses or Dissertations
    • Group Projects
      Permission for two appointments for a single writer’s portion is not given. Permission for up to two second appointments in one day may be given once to:
      • Format entire document.
      • Discuss citations and references for entire document.
      • Provide group feedback.
        Tutors will not read the entire document in order to edit. Instead, they will read a small portion of each writer’s portion and give feedback on one or two of the major issues with that portion so the student can relay that information to team members. Multiple appointment permission for consolidation is only given to writers whose skill levels warrant relaying feedback.
  • Unverified second appointments booked for the same day will be canceled without notification and No Show restrictions may be applied.

Late Policy

Appointment times begin when students arrive with their Comet Cards and a printed, double-spaced copy of the document to review.

  • Students over five minutes late forfeit their appointment to non-scheduled, waiting students.
  • Students 10 minutes late are considered No Shows.

Cancellations

Students making cancellations with less than 12 hours’ notice will be considered No Shows and will incur restrictions. Appointments may be canceled by clicking on the “Manage your appointment” icon in your email appointment confirmation or reminder or by phoning the BCC at (972) 883-5385.

Improperly Booked Appointments

Improperly booked appointments will incur No Show restrictions. For example, job search documents, such as resumes and cover letters, cannot be booked in the class assignment category, even if that document is for a class. Only tutors may book job search document appointments. Improperly booked appointments for limited review documents may count as one of the total number of allowable reviews.

No Show Policy

Students who do not show for an appointment, who are 10 minutes late, or who cancel with less than 12 hours’ notice are considered No Shows.

The restrictions for No Shows are:

First No Show

  • Student’s existing appointments are cancelled.
  • Student is restricted from booking further appointments for the rest of the week.
  • Student receives an email describing the actions taken and future restrictions for repeated incidents.

Second No Show

  • Student’s existing appointments are cancelled.
  • Student is restricted from booking further appointments for two weeks.
  • Student receives an email describing the actions taken and future restrictions for repeated incidents.

Third No Show

  • Student’s existing appointments are canceled.
  • Student is restricted from booking further appointments for three weeks.
  • Student receives and email describing the actions taken.

Fourth No Show

  • Student’s existing appointments are canceled.
  • Student is restricted from booking further appointments for the rest of the semester.
  • Student receives and email describing the actions taken.

No Shows for appointments made for limited review documents count as one of the reviews.

Limited Review Documents

Because the BCC’s main focus is class documents, and because the BCC’s goal is to help students develop writing skills, not to edit work, only limited reviews are available for the following documents:

  • Three Reviews Per Semester/One Follow Up Each Subsequent Semester
    • Resumes
    • Cover Letters
  • Two Maximum Reviews
    • LinkedIn Page
    • Elevator Speech
    • Possible Interview Questions
    • Other Job Search Documents
    • Personal Statement
    • Statement of Purpose (SOP)
    • Other Application Documents

Improperly booked appointments for limited review documents count as one of total number of allowable reviews. To attend a workshop, follow the directions on the Job Search Documents:
Resumes, Etc. Appointments


The BCC reserves the right to add, delete, or modify policies at any time during a semester. Website updates are submitted for revision once per semester, and the website may not include the mliost recent revisions.

Click on the question to view the answer.

Information for Students

Expand All
  • Do I need to make an appointment?

    Walk-ins are welcomed, but only at times when other students have not booked appointments or have canceled. You can book an appointment by clicking Book Now

  • Should I make an appointment EARLY in the assignment schedule?

    Yes. The BCC gets VERY busy right before writing assignments are due. Making an appointment early will ensure that you get help when you need it.

  • Will the tutor edit my grammar and punctuation?

    No. Tutors do not “fix” or edit student papers so they are ready for class submission. Instead, tutors will help you to identify patterns of errors in your work so that you learn to identify and correct errors yourself.

  • What happens when I meet with a tutor?

    Tutors will help you in any way you need help. If you want help with your writing, they will help you invent a paper topic, organize your document, or smooth out your sentences, or improve your grammar. If you want help with your presentation, they will help you improve the script, strengthen your PowerPoint slides, or invent helpful note cards. You can even practice your speech. It all depends on what YOU need.

  • Will the tutor write the paper for me?

    NO

  • Will the tutor correct all my mistakes?

    No. Tutors do not edit student work. To help students become more skillful and independent writers, tutors help students identify issues (normally two or three per appointment) that need attention.

  • Will the tutor help me get a better grade on my assignment?

    Not necessarily. The tutors will help you to strengthen your documents and practice your presentations skills, but instructors assign the scores. If you have any questions about how your work will be evaluated in an assignment, meet with your instructors and ask them. THEN you should make an appointment with the Center and communicate that information to the tutor. Your chances of success are much higher if you clearly communicate the assignment instructions and expectations to the tutor.

  • How often can I visit the Center?

    You may visit the Center every day, but only once a day for one, thirty-minute appointment unless you have prior tutor authorization.

Information for Faculty

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  • Are the services for undergraduate or graduate students?

    Any JSOM student can use the Business Communication Center, but our focus is the Undergraduate Program. Although tutors are not content experts, they are skilled writers with training in tutoring, so they are able to help graduate students with communication issues that do not require advanced subject knowledge. Foreign language learners often work with our tutors on general issues such as grammar, word choice, sentence structure, punctuation, and effective PowerPoint slides and presentation techniques.

  • Who are the staff?

    The Business Communication Center is typically staffed by graduate students in Arts and Humanities. Tutors must demonstrate writing proficiency and pass an exam to assess their tutoring skills prior to employment. You can be confident that your students will receive qualified help.

  • How can I encourage students to use the BCC?

    • Include our link in your syllabus or assignments and encourage students to get the Feedback Form. The URL is http://bcc.utdallas.edu/
    • As part of your writing assignments, explain to students that their best work will rarely be their first draft. Remind them that getting the perspective of a second reader will help them write better papers.
    • Tell students about online writing tips and reference materials on the Business Communication Center’s web site. These are useful as students draft papers and, later, check final revisions.
    • Tell students you have noticed that taking the time to use the Business Communication Center’s services leads to higher quality papers. They can visit the BCC every day for a half-hour session.
    • Tell students that we can help them strengthen their PowerPoint presentations and give them valuable tips to help them be more at ease during an oral presentation.
  • Why do the papers of some students who visit the Center still have errors?

    Tutors do not edit papers because the primary goal of the Business Communication Center is to help students improve their writing. Ideally, a conversation about a draft begins with larger issues of structure, clarity, and effective argument, with the tutor and student taking time to work through revisions. Then the conversation moves on to finer points, with the tutor highlighting patterns of error or offering revision guidelines, still coaching the student in improving the writing. Frequently, creating a polished paper requires a second appointment after the student has worked more on the paper. Final papers may have errors for several reasons:

    • The draft has too many issues to work through in the course of one tutoring session.
    • A student applies revision guidelines, reworks the paper after the session, but does not spend enough time on final editing.
    • A student comes in one or two hours before the paper is due, so there is time to work on only selected issues.
    • The tutor and student may work through part of the paper, and then the student will take the paper home to finish. The student who is still learning may make a few errors.
    • Some foreign language learners have clarity issues in their papers and may have difficulty verbalizing the meaning of a passage or even a sentence to the tutor.
  • Can the Business Communication Center help students avoid plagiarism?

    Yes, in these ways:

    • Many students, even graduate students, do not understand how to use and document sources correctly. Tutors can introduce this skill and provide illustrations and resources.
    • When students copy and paste passages, tutors will often recognize the problem simply from changes in writing style. This creates an opportunity to work with students on paraphrasing and citing sources correctly.
    • Expectations about documenting sources vary across cultures, and the tutors are prepared to explain to students what they need to do to adapt to U.S. academic conventions.
    • Ask the BCC to present its 1.5-hour guest lecture in APA citations and paraphrasing. The presentation includes a group activity so your students can practice.
  • Sometimes student writing is discouraging. How can I get better papers?

    • Get help from a peer tutor in pushing students beyond Google to do research. To supplement Ms. Henry’’s introduction to library research tools, ask a student who has already taken your class to come in and give a quick talk from the student perspective about how useful the library tools can be.
    • Take another look at how your assignments are designed. Often students struggle with assignments because they do not understand the expectations or simply do not know the standard forms of writing in a new context. Be sure the assignment specifies the audience (possibly a hypothetical audience), the role of the writer, the purpose for writing, and the kind of document to write. If you do not provide a model, consider referring students to the Center or its website for models of formats, for example, a memo. We can work with you to provide an appropriate model that you can use as a handout or include in your syllabus. For more information on effective assignment design, see the following sites:
    • Make the criteria for success part of the assignment. List the characteristics you will look for when grading and, if appropriate, describe in specific detail different levels of achievement that correspond to different grades. Being explicit about grading criteria helps students understand what success looks like, which the students are still learning. The following websites give examples of different kinds of grading rubrics that make it easier to communicate criteria for success: www.writing.umn.edu and www.tcnj.edu/~writing/faculty/rubrics.html
    • Build a draft and revision step into assignments. To keep feedback and grading time manageable, try one of these options:
      • Give credit for a complete draft, but do not give students feedback on it. Instead, suggest they take the draft to the BCC, or include peer feedback as part of the assignment. Explain to students that you are requiring the draft to help them do their best work.
      • Give students comments on the draft so they can apply your suggestions as they revise. Grade, but give minimal comments on the final paper. Your comments at that point make much less difference in student learning.
    • Create multi-step assignments. Instead of giving students assignments on unrelated topics, create a series of assignments in which the writing and thinking on one prepares students to take on the next assignment. Usually the final paper will be a larger project that pulls together the thinking skills and content areas of the previous papers.
  • What kinds of assignments can students bring to the BCC?

    JSOM Students are welcome to bring any piece of writing or oral presentation including class assignments, application essays, cover letters, resumes, PowerPoint presentations, or even Toastmasters’ speeches. Group projects are also welcome. Tutors will approve hour-long appointments to discuss group project drafts, and as many of the team members as possible are encouraged to participate. Frequently, the tutor facilitates discussions about not only how to revise problem areas in the draft that may be written by different students, but also how to organize and format the entire paper. For this reason, it is important to have all or almost all group members attend the session.

  • Should I require tutor signatures on student documents as proof of visiting the BCC?

    As a regular service, tutors provide a signed Feedback Form. This form offers suggestions for some areas that require further attention and serves as a verification that the student received assistance in the Center.

  • Should I send my whole class to the BCC?

    Requiring an entire class to attend the BCC can sometimes backfire. The BCC’s mission is to assist students in improving their communication skills, not to edit student papers. Students who are threatened with the possibility of a lower grade if they do not visit the BCC have unrealistic expectations when visiting the BCC. Such students are anxious to have their papers “fixed” and often are not focused on learning, making them unreceptive to tutor coaching. In addition, when instructors require an entire class to go to the BCC, more motivated students who are working to improve their skills are unable to obtain appointments.

    Helping students to understand that tutors will not edit their papers and encouraging students to visit the BCC early and regularly is a better way to ensure that class assignments will achieve higher levels of proficiency. If your entire class needs assistance, consider scheduling a guest lecture for a particular assignment or skill. Contact Elizabeth Bruce at 972-883-5385 or Elizabeth.bruce@utdallas.edu to schedule one of the following or to discuss a new topic for your class!

    • Resumes
    • Cover Letters
    • LinkedIn
    • APA Format
    • APA Citations and References
    • Plagiarism
  • How can I ensure that tutors will instruct my students according to specific parameters I have set for the assignment?

    Although tutors ask students for the written homework assignments, students do not always bring these to the Center. As a rule, tutors will instruct students to cite, reference, and format papers using the APA Style Guide. If you prefer a different style guide or if you have specific areas of focus for the tutors, please contact the coordinator with your instructions at Elizabeth Bruce or 972-883-5385

The Center has three cameras available for student use for oral presentation assignments. Please observe the following guidelines:

  • To check out cameras, phone the Center at 972-883-5385 to ensure that the equipment is available and that the Center Coordinator will be available to assist with the checkout.
  • Bring the completed General Sites

    Business Writing Blogs

    Job-Related Writing

    The best way to get personalized help on your cover letter, resume, or other job-related writing is to make use of the UT Dallas Career Center and JSOM Career Management Center. Please visit their webpages for more information.

    Business Writing Resources

    • Why Cite? Working with sources can inspire your own ideas and enrich them, and your citation of these sources is the visible trace of that debt.

    • How to Critically Evaluate Sources In the research process you will encounter many types of resources including books, articles and websites. But not everything you find on your topic will be suitable. How do you make sense of what is out there and evaluate its authority and appropriateness for your research?

    • What is Plagiarism?

      Academic versus Popular Journals – When you select articles from an online search you need to make a distinction between scholarly and popular material.

    • Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Summarizing This handout is intended to help you become more comfortable with the uses of and distinctions among quotations, paraphrases, and summaries. This handout compares and contrasts the three terms, gives some pointers, and includes a short excerpt that you can use to practice these skills.

    View “Your Writing, Not Someone Else’s,” produced by the Business Writing Center at the University of Washington

Online sources can assist you in preparing more effective speeches. While these resources provide general advice, your professors’ instructions should be your first source of direction for your presentations. If you have questions concerning the appropriateness of any of the following links, ASK YOUR INSTRUCTOR.

Avoiding Common Presentation Mistakes

Conquering Nervousness and Bad Habits

Reading Speeches

Using Slides, Handouts, and Statistics Effectively

Dressing Professionally

Meeting Strangers at Networking Events