Mayo's Clinics

Jun 25, 2017, 20:45

Mayo’s Clinic: White Papers as Writing Assignments

fredmayoAssigning students to write a white paper can help them focus on an audience, develop an appropriate voice, learn to make a solid case with evidence and conduct careful research.

By Dr. Fred Mayo, CHE, CHT

Last month, we discussed the value of old-fashioned writing assignments, such as notes, journals and reflective papers instead of blogs. This month, we will review the value of using white papers as thoughtful and effective assignments for students.

History of White Papers
White papers have historically been used for a range of purposes, most commonly to persuade decision makers to adopt a policy or consider a new program or a set of strategies. In many situations, they were background papers to provide an in-depth analysis of a situation, event or potential development so that key executives had the information to make better decisions. Sometimes, they were just background documents; often, they contained recommendations for decisions and information about implementation steps. They were typically written for a specific audience and crafted to make a persuasive case backed by strong evidence.

Mayo’s Clinic: Using Notes and Journals instead of Blogs

fredmayoJohn Dewey taught us that we do not learn from experience, but from reflectingon our experience. While recently this column has focused on the strategic uses of social media in teaching, this month it revisits the traditional tried and true.

By Dr. Fred Mayo, CHE, CHT

Over the past several months, we have been talking about social media, ways to use it in teaching, and advice for our students. This month, we will return to a focus on teaching practices and discuss ways of using notes, journals and reflective papers instead of blogs, the contemporary form of diaries and journals.

For the past year or so, I have required students to participate in a blog on customer service as part of their assignments in the course, Customer Relationship Management. When I asked them recently if they thought the assignment was valuable to them and worth continuing, they indicated that other assignments were more important and useful. They also said they monitor so many professional blogs that this one does not add much to their education. They suggested having students take notes or keep a journal of incidents of customer service, instead. Therefore, I will try that assignment this spring and add the requirement to reflect on what they observed.

Mayo’s Clinic: Facebook

fredmayoLike it or not, for a growing number of our students, Facebook is the preferred means of communicating—with everyone. To help them use their Facebook sites effectively, we need to remind them of at least three important guidelines: audience, permanence and development.

By Dr. Fred Mayo, CHE, CHT


In December, we talked about e-mail and the e-mail pledge that represents a focus on communicating clearly and with respect using e-mail. This month, we will talk about Facebook.

Facebook as E-mail
A number of students and others use Facebook as a means of communication to others. Instead of just friending people, building a profile, posting pictures and jointly playing games and other activities, Facebook has become, for them, the preferred way of sending messages, following up on conversations and chatting. In fact, a number of my colleagues reported getting thank-you notes during this holiday season through Facebook and not via regular e-mail.

Mayo’s Clinic: The E-mail Pledge—a Communication Suggestion

fredmayoWe need to remind our students that communication is an art that recognizes the dignity and importance of the receiver. In fact, have them consider taking the E-Mail Pledge.

By Dr. Fred Mayo, CHE, CHT


Last month, we talked about social-media etiquette for students and listed the five recommendations of accuracy, brevity, consistency, directness and expansion. This month, during the holiday season, we will review some common e-mail practices and suggest some guidelines for students to adopt because they are important in personal, and especially in professional, circles.

First Principle for E-mail Etiquette
There are a few commonly accepted principles for using e-mail that most professionals practice; students who Twitter, Facebook and instant message may not be aware of them. The first principle involves recognizing and honoring the audience of e-mail messages. Sometimes that audience is clear in the “to” box, but students should be warned that e-mail messages are often forwarded to other people and, therefore, need to be written carefully with a sense that others might read them and they might be kept and used for a range of different purposes in the future.

Mayo’s Clinic: Social-Media Etiquette for Our Students

fredmayoGood practices of social-media conversation honor five key principles just as they do within teams and in kitchens.

By Dr. Fred Mayo, CHE, CHT


Last month, we talked about using social media in our classrooms; this month, we will start a conversation on social-media etiquette for students, something that many of us are concerned about, but not sure how to tackle.

Although some of us have talked to our students about being careful what they post on Facebook because it can make a difference to employers and potential internship and externship sites, some of our students have not heeded that advice. It might help to share with them the 2009 study conducted by Harris Interactive for, which found that 45% of employers used Google and other social networks to check on the backgrounds of potential hires. And that number is increasing. While we should keep delivering that message, there are many other aspects to social-media etiquette and to communicating clearly and carefully. Given the importance of learning how to use social media thoughtfully, here are a few pointers to share with students.