Category Archives: 4. Classroom Exercises

Improving Interpersonal Skills: E-Mail Assignment

The isolation of the pandemic took its toll on college students’ interpersonal skills, and employers are finding they must help new-hires gain these workplace essentials. A recent Wall Street Journal article noted that recent graduates, who primarily communicate via social media, need to improve not just oral communication skills but also to effectively use e-mail. This assignment is geared to tackle both challenges.


Your Task. For this exercise, first read this post from and choose three of the areas listed in the article that you’d like to improve. Then, in an e-mail to your instructor, describe how you plan to work on attaining these skills.

Sample Student E-mail

Dear Prof. XYZ:

After reading the post about interpersonal skills, I have decided I need to improve in the following three areas:

    1. Teamwork. In the past, I have not been the best team player. I prefer to do things on my own so I can control the final product. However, after reading about the importance of collaboration, I better understand the need to work well in groups. This semester, I plan to improve my teamwork skills by not pushing my own agenda and respecting others’ input.
    2. Flexibility. I’ve realized that I tend to be inflexible; I’ve always wanted to do things my own way. I now realize being able to change course is important in business, and that I’ll have to change my mindset to be a more valuable, productive employee.
    3. Patience. Wow, this one really hit home. I’m extremely impatient, especially when I know I can get something done faster than those around me. To become more patient, I have signed up for yoga, which I’m told is good for people like me who just want to get things done as quickly as possible.

Now that I’m close to entering the business world, I can see how some of my personality traits could work against me. I’m glad to be aware of these liabilities before I seek a job.


Student Name

Early Semester Assignment to Build Student Engagement

Instructors: Students will feel more empowered and engaged if they know about resources and opportunities on their campus. The task below prompts students to research activities that could be vital to their success as academics and citizens.  

In this assignment you will discover ways to enrich your college experience by researching academic and social activities your campus and community provide. For example, if you are having trouble with a course, look into your professor’s office hours, academic counseling, or peer tutoring. Perhaps you are eager to meet new people. To do so, learn about student clubs and recreational activities your campus offers. Many students find volunteer work satisfying as a good way to break into specific fields. Look into service clubs in your area (Kiwanis, Rotary, Big Brothers/Sisters, animal shelters) or other volunteer possibilities that mesh with your values.

Then, as directed by your instructor, create an e-mail, short memo, or table in which you name five activities that interest you. State why you think they will enhance your success, and explain when and where you can attend or participate. Be sure to include specific details tied to your campus/community and how your choices reflect your personal goals.




Date:               September 27, 2023

To:                   Prof. XWZ

From:              Student Name

Subject:          Resources for Success

In response to your request to research five activities our campus provides that will help me attain my academic and social goals, I have determined that the options below represent the best opportunities considering my desire to enter business after I graduate.

  1. Campus Chapter of the American Marketing Association. This student-run group offers networking possibilities, resources, and opportunities for direct experience in the marketing field, which I hope to enter. I’ve signed up to receive notices of upcoming events, which are held on campus.
  2. Community Affairs Board (CAB). This volunteer group offers many activities that benefit the surrounding community. As an animal lover, I am interested in volunteering at one of the animal shelters CAB links with and have signed up for the group’s e-mail newsletters detailing specific animal-related opportunities close to campus.
  3. Public and Mental Health Commission. I was surprised to learn that our school offers free peer counseling to help student better navigate college life. I have already made an appointment because I’m having some issues I’d like to discuss privately.
  4. Adventure Programs. This group takes an overnight trip once per semester. I’ve never been camping and think it would be fun to learn about it. In addition, this activity offers a way to see some of the state that I’ve never been able to visit.
  5. Campus Learning Assistance Services (CLAS). Our campus offers free tutoring. I definitely need some help in my calculus class. I can drop in or schedule an appointment.

Thank you, Prof. XYZ, for requiring us to research our own campus. I had no idea I could have missed out on so many opportunities.



Grade Justification Assignment

Instructors: Having students evaluate their own performance is an excellent way for them to think about what they have learned throughout the course while also demonstrating their grasp of business communication. We include a sample you can share with your students.

Now that you have spent a semester learning about business communication, write your instructor an e-mail in which you justify the grade you think you should receive. Include specifics about graded and non-graded assignments, participation, attendance, and any special efforts you have put forth during the course.

Dear Prof. _____,

In response to your request, I am writing to justify the grade I believe I have earned in this class: A-.

Throughout the term, I have consistently received a B+ and A- on all written assignments, and an A on an oral presentation for a team project. While the actual points I have earned add up to 89 percent, I feel that my consistent participation in class and outstanding attendance record should bump me up to a 90 percent, or an A-.

Moreover, while working on the group project, I took on the role of team leader, which entailed keeping four other team members on track. Perhaps the most demanding aspect of this role was working one-on-one with a nonnative speaker whose writing skills were not up to par. In addition, I designed all the slides to accompany our oral presentation on that group project.

Finally, I do not consider myself to be a strong writer, but I have worked my hardest to learn from my mistakes. As you may recall, I have been a frequent visitor to your office hours, which has helped me improve to the point where I now feel confident in my ability to enter the workplace. In fact, I have been offered a permanent job after interning at an insurance company this semester.

I hope you agree that I have truly earned an A- in this class, and I thank you for teaching me such valuable skills. Have a great summer!


Stu Dent