Philip Vassallo, Ed.D.

Writing Management, Design, Instruction, and Assessment

Case Studies



Client A major agency of the City of New York


Situation The Vice-president of Customer Service requested a writing training program for her 168 correspondents. She said, "I have two aims: speed and quality. Right now my staff manages 6 cases a day, including researching and writing. If you get that average up to 7 a day, we will have a return on investment in no time. Also, most of them have trouble writing in Standard English, which means their managers spend as much time editing letters as they do managing cases. We need a significant reduction in errors of grammar and style."


Approach Philip Vassallo, Ed.D. designed Customer Service Writing:

  • The 5-week course met weekly for 3.5 hours each session. Group A would meet in the morning and Group B would meet in the afternoon.
  • Enrollment was limited to 6 participants per group to ensure instantaneous and comprehensive feedback for each participant.
  • The curriculum included review activities on purposeful messages, organizaed paragraphs, clear and concise sentences, and grammar, diction, and punctuation.
  • During the first four sessions, participants drafted responses to a unique customer letter based on a work-related situation for in-class review.
  • Between sessions, participants would email the second draft to the instructor for a detailed review.
  • The fifth session inluded a comprehensive review of the course material and individual conferences to discuss with particpants their individualized writing assessment, which summarized learned skills and areas of continued improvement. The Vice-president received a copy of all assessments.
  • The program ran for 28 groups to include all correspondents.


Result Mission accomplished. The Vice-president commented that she saw a marked increase in output from the Correspondence Unit and a noticeable improvement in the writing quality of most of her staff. In addition, she targeted some of her correspondents for promotion based on their performance in the course.


Client A global asset management firm


Situation The Director of Talent Management requested an intensive training program in spoken and written communication for an Information Technology team of eight highly educated, deeply skilled professionals who were nonnative speakers of English. Their positions required them to brief senior managers on system-wide failures and inconsistencies in data management, but their limited training in English and relative inexperience in high-level reporting created critical communication challenges for the organization. Since their positions were vital to the firm, they would not be able to leave regularly for training.


Approach Philip Vassallo, Ed.D. designed Business Communication for Managers:

  • The course ran 12 three-hour sessions once a week after hours, from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
  • The course materials were customized to address the needs of the ESL adult learner.
  • The 11 written assignments included a product or article review, policy announcement, analytical report, standard operating procedure, meeting minutes, root-cause analysis, internal proposal, executive summary, management briefing, and requests and response in tone-sensitive situations.
  • Individual, confidential consultation between the participant and instructor occurred three times during the course.
  • The instructor was available to participants by email or phone for the duration of the program.


Result Management reported a marked improvement in the quality of the participants' written and spoken presentations. Several began briefing more regularly. Participants continued developing their communication skills by follow-up activities prescribed by the instructor. 

Client An internationally renowned research laboratory focusing on cancer, neurobiology, genomic, and bioinformatics

Situation The director of development requested an ongoing writing program aimed at helping postdoctoral researchers enhance the quality of their grant proposals.

Approach Philip Vassallo, Ed.D. designed Effective Writing:
  • Philip reviewed numerous grant proposals from the lab to funding sources to determine the greatest weaknesses of the narrative and abstract sections.
  • He debriefed with management concerning the writing deficiencies and proposed content to address them.
  • He designed course notebook highlighting the value of enhancing the significance of the researchers' work. Included were exercises on creating greater impact in abstracts and crystallizing complex ideas through clear sentences. 
  • He delivered an interactive writing workshop during an annual symposium at the lab which included three hours of training and half-hour individual conferences with participants using live writing samples.

Result Participants rated the program highly, some attending a second time as a refresher, and many reported benefiting from the workshop by learning how to effect greater impact in their grant proposals. Management relied on Philip's consultation during three subsequent annual workshops.
Client  A nationally known, A+ rated insurance firm with revenues of $2 billion and 2,000 employees

Situation The Vice-president of Learning and Development wanted an alternative to instructor-led, in-class writing training programs for the company's online learning portal. 

Approach Philip Vassallo, Ed.D. designed and delivered a one-hour webinar that summarized the key points from three purchased asynchronous courses and merged best practices from his live courses, which had been available to employees for more than a decade.  

Result The course received good tstaff evaluations, launched globally, and remains a viable training alternative.


Client A major construction firm employing 1,000 architects, engineers, inspectors, and administrative staff

Situation The head of Training and Staff Development sought to professionalize a diverse group of office and field professionals throughout New York City by standardizing written communication. 

Approach Philip Vassallo, Ed.D. interviewed six department heads to determine training needs and incorporated eight templates of technical documents into the training material to establish standards. More than 500 staff attended the two-day training sessions.
Result Management expressed satisfaction with the program, noting a marked improvement in staff writing. The fim purchased 500 copies of The Art of E-mail Writing by Philip Vassallo.   


Client A major urban public library with more than 3,000 staff

Situation The director of Learning and Development requested training for librarians and branch managers to contribute blog posts regularly for the organizational website. 

Approach Philip Vassallo, Ed.D. designed live and asynschronous versions of Blogging 2.0, a course offering tips for writing engaging, focused blog posts. More than 100 participants attended the live courses.

Result Blogging is now a regular part of the library's culture, with contributions coming from across the system.

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