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Maintaining Academic Integrity (Or: How to Cite Sources!)
Wednesday, November 6, 4:00-5:00, COMM+D Presentation Room

Each paper you write seems to require different rules for citing your sources, and research raises lots of questions, including everything from “Do paraphrases need complete in-text citations?” and “How many direct quotes should I use?” to “Do I need to cite EVERYTHING from EVERY source I use?” Attend this session to learn the answers to these questions and more, as well as get helpful strategies for managing sources and working with multiple citation styles.


Visual Design Basics & Poster Presentations
Tuesday, November 19, 5:00-6:00, COMM+D Presentation Room

This workshop will briefly cover the basics of visual design (organization, visual hierarchy, repetition, fonts, color, arrangement), as well as offer a focus on how to use those basics in preparing a poster presentation. It is highly recommended for those who plan (or are required) to complete an oral presentation component for their coursework or research projects, as well as those who desire a working knowledge of design concepts.

August 16th, 2018

Language & Culture Support

We recognize that non-native English-speaking students have varied needs when improving communication skills and adjusting to English. We are proud to offer both tutoring and language & culture support to address these needs!

We highly encourage non-native English-speaking students to make appointments with TAs or mentors through our scheduler for help with individual projects, including personal work, class assignments, application essays for graduate school, and cover letters for job applications. Our mentors and teaching assistants are trained to work with multilingual students and explain typical difficulties with English writing and speaking. We are not language teachers, but are happy to help with oral presentations, grammar, vocabulary, native English idioms, etc. In addition, all students have access to the Comm+D’s online resources (also accessible through our Resources tab).

Comm+D offers a number of opportunities and resources for adapting to American language and culture, including:

  • Tips on Language and Culture: This series of downloadable handouts covers many topics. Some are specifically for language learners (campus resources, how to describe charts & graphs, others); some are for people wanting to welcome the world (how to say Chinese names, tips on intercultural communication); and some are useful for anyone adjusting to Rensselaer (an alphabetical list of 160+ abbreviations and academic terms). See the list of all handouts at
  • Language proficiency testing for international student TAs: Assessment of international graduate teaching assistants’ speaking skills identifies new TAs who need to improve their oral communication skills to be effective both for themselves and the students they will be teaching. International graduate students who are offered a teaching assistantship have an initial language assessment during summer orientation, which determines whether or not their skills need development through coursework (ADMN1010). [More details below.]
  • ADMN1010 “Oral Communication for International TAs”: This zero-credit course is designed to help international teaching assistants develop their skills for communicating with students and colleagues in an academic setting. Teaching assistants have priority; others may join as space allows.

Assessment of International TA Speaking Skills

Assessment of international graduate teaching assistants’ speaking skills identifies new ITAs who need to improve their oral communication skills to be effective both for the TA and the students they will be teaching. Comm+D provides support to help them do so.

International graduate students who are offered a teaching assistantship have an initial language assessment, which results in one of three possible outcomes: sufficient skills, with no further testing needed; skills that need development through courses and self-study before the TA can work with a group of students; or skills that have a mix of strengths and weaknesses, requiring additional assessment in a brief interactive presentation.

For ITAs who are required, or wish, to improve their spoken English, Comm+D offers a course on Oral Communication each semester.

Test of Spoken English
Teaching involves stronger communication challenges, and a higher level of language skill, than just being a student. New international teaching assistants (ITAs) whose first language is not English must have their speaking skills assessed to be sure that the skill is sufficient to promote success for themselves and the students with whom they will work.

  • Any international TA who has taken the TOEFL exam and scored 26 or higher on the speaking section is considered to have sufficient language skill and is exempt from testing.
  • Any other new international TA must take the language assessment test to evaluate his/her oral proficiency.  Note that studying as an undergraduate or graduate student at an American college, and even experience as a teaching assistant at another college or university, is not sufficient for being exempted from testing.  We want to be sure that the TAs meet our expectations for communication ability.

June 4th, 2018

Preparing for an E-Tutoring Conference

What is E-Tutoring?

E-tutoring is an asynchronous conference by which the writer uploads a project during an allotted conference time to be reviewed and returned at the end of the appointment.  Keep in mind to upload only what can be reviewed during the allotted time and to prioritize your concerns clearly to the mentor or teaching assistant.

Scheduling an e-tutoring conference:

  • To make an e-tutoring appointment, go to the schedule and find a mentor available for e-tutoring.
  • Click on an available appointment time, fill in the required fields, and click “SAVE APPOINTMENT.”
  • A second window will open to confirm your appointment.  Be sure to attach your file in this second window.
  • Note that all files need to be Microsoft Office compatible in order to receive feedback.

What to expect after your conference:

  • The mentor will return your file using the online scheduler.  To access this file, you should check your email first, or go to the original scheduled appointment to download the reviewed file.
  • If you have problems downloading your reviewed file, try refreshing the page or try again in five minutes.  If this is not helpful, please contact the Comm+D directly.
  • Your reviewed file will be marked with the Comment Feature on Microsoft Word (or appropriate application).  To view comments, select the Review Tab and choose “All Markup” from the drop-down menu (next to Track Changes button).


February 2nd, 2017

Welcome to the Center for Global Communication+Design!

What We Do

2018 marked the 40th anniversary of the Center for Global Communication+Design (Comm+D). We have a new name (formerly the Center for Communication Practices), and have expanded our areas of teaching, research, and service beyond writing and oral communication to include illustrations, video and animation storyboards, interface/website design, and data visualization. The Center operates year-round in support of The Arch.

The Center for Global Communication+Design at Rensselaer is a FREE resource for all members of the RPI community: students, faculty, and staff. Our experienced undergraduate mentors and graduate teaching assistants will work with you, one-on-one, to discuss:

  • ANY type of communication project—written texts, oral presentations, websites, visual elements (tables, photographs, films….), interface design, video and animation storyboards, data visualization
  • For ANY purpose—class work, research publications, personal projects etc.–from  ANY discipline
  • At ANY stage of the process—from brainstorming and getting started, to polishing your final product!

Our goal is to provide all students with strategies that will help them become better communicators, in the classroom and beyond.

What You Do

  • Schedule a conference for 30 or 60 minutes: To make an appointment, please use our online scheduler by clicking on the “Make an Appointment” button. Walk-ins are also welcome, but openings are limited. REQUIRED: Click on the “LIMIT TO” menu, top center of the schedule page. Choose your project type. If you do not choose a project type, we may have to reschedule your appointment!
  • Bring your work from any discipline or personal projects of any type—essays, posters, lab reports, graduate personal statements, doctoral dissertations, presentation slides and more. Whether the work is nearly completed or still in the planning stage, we will work with you to take the project to the next step.
  • Be prepared for the session. This gives you more time to focus on improving your work and makes the session more valuable for you.
  • Remain responsible for your own work. Mentors and TAs do not “fix” or edit any writing, but we are happy to point out error patterns and offer you strategies to improve your writing yourself!

October 29th, 2012


5If you have any questions about the Comm+D or our services, please look through the FAQs below.  If you don’t find an answer, please stop by to see us, schedule an appointment, or email the Faculty Lead, Barbara Lewis, at


Where is the Comm+D?

What happens in a conference?

Does the Center provide assistance to multilingual students?

How long does a conference last?

Is there a page limit?

Can the Center help me with a speech or oral presentation?

Will my professor be notified that I came to the Center?

How can I become a peer tutor in the Comm+D?


Where is the Comm+D?

The Comm+D is located on the lower level of the Folsom Library. Our space is to the left of the computer bar at the bottom of the stairs, next to the ALAC tutoring area.  Look for the “Welcome to COMM+D” signs! From the elevator: turn right; the Center will be on your right.

What happens in a conference?

In a standard conference, you and the mentor or teaching assistant will discuss the assignment, including any expectations, the intended audience, formatting etc. If you have a written draft, you and the mentor will read through the piece, out loud or silently, depending on your preference. For a design project, you and the mentor will look over the piece together, following a similar process with a focus on visual communication. COMM+D welcomes projects at any stage, and mentors are prepared to work with you on brainstorming, outlines, or sketches as well as more complete drafts. You will work together on issues you feel are most important: readability, clarity, structure, organization, support of ideas, etc. This is the basic process, but remember, each conference is different, just as each writer and assignment is different.

Does the Center provide assistance to multilingual students?

Yes. Our mentors and teaching assistants are trained to work with multilingual students and to help explain typical difficulties with English writing or speaking. They are not language teachers, but are happy to help with oral presentations, grammar, vocabulary, native English idioms, etc.

How long does a conference last?

Conferences are scheduled for 30- or 60-minute appointments.  However, the conference lasts about 25- to 50-minutes, respectively.  This allows the mentors to complete necessary reflective paperwork and prepare for the next conference.  If you plan to split one project over more than one visit, you may want to request the same mentor through our scheduler, so they are familiar with the work.

Is there a page limit?

No, there is no page limit. We help students working on projects ranging from 1-2 page lab reports to lengthy graduate-level dissertations. Conferences are limited in time though, so if the whole assignment cannot be covered in one session, we advise you to schedule a second or third appointment on another day, leaving time in between conferences to do some revising on your own.

Can the Center help me with a speech or oral presentation?

Yes, our mentors and teaching assistants have training in PowerPoint presentations and can offer feedback on delivery as well as content and organization. We have a designated presentation room available in which you can rehearse your presentation, alone or with a consultant. You also can choose to work exclusively on the visual portion of the presentation.  The presentation room can be reserved on the scheduler.  Otherwise, the room is for first come, first served.

Will my professor be notified that I came to the Center?

If a visit to the Comm+D is required for your class or your professor has offered extra credit for attending a conference in the Center, we will be happy to notify your professor. Otherwise, your visit to the Center will be kept confidential. The records we keep are for statistical purposes only.

How can I become a peer tutor in the Comm+D?

Contact Communication Practices Lead Faculty Dr. Barbara Lewis ( for information on how to become a mentor in the Center.

April 15th, 2009

Previous Posts

Visit Us

The Comm+D is located on the lower level of the Folsom Library, next door to the ALAC tutoring space.

Folsom Library--Lower Level
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Troy, NY 12180

Hours of Operation

Summer Hours
Mon.-Thurs.: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Friday: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Please view our scheduling system for the most accurate hours—we are usually around more often than this and also host special events!

Schedule an Appointment

Schedule an Appointment

1. Click on the "LIMIT TO" drop-down menu at the top of the schedule. Choose the kind of appointment you need. GRADUATE STUDENTS, be sure to choose a “GRADUATE” project from the list.

2. Click on the open appointment you want (a WHITE space), which will bring you to a short form.

3. Set the TIME for the appointment: choose 30 minutes or 1 hour. Make 1-hour appointments for Online or E-Tutoring.

4. Tell us about what you’re working on by filling out the form that opens in the scheduler and submit it. You’ll get a reminder email to confirm your appointment.

5. CAN’T FIND AN APPOINTMENT? Below each day's schedule there is a "WAITING LIST" link. Click to enter your name on the WAITING LIST for that day.