Sample Scholarship Letter of Recommendation
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I am happy to write a letter of recommendation for Mary Smith in
support of her application to the Department of Maternal and Child
Health MPH program. Ms. Smith took the classroom version of Principles
of Epidemiology for Public Health (EPID 160) this past fall. Based on
her performance in the course, I feel she would be a good candidate for
the MPH program.
Grading in EPID 160 is based on a combination of “objective” and
“subjective” evaluations. The objective components are two open-book,
take-home examinations (35% of the overall grade) and a paper (25%),
each based on an article. Each teaching assistant grades several exam
questions across the entire class (this year we combined the 101
classroom and 64 Internet students). Thus, exam scores provide a good
basis for comparison. The papers are also graded anonymously, but in
spite of attempts to standardize the grading there are undoubtedly
differences across graders.
The more subjective components are TA (20% of the overall grade) and
peer (20%) evaluations of participation in small group discussions about
case studies based mostly on articles. Although I try to adjust the
results for differences in grading styles across TAs and across small
groups, these scores are less comparable across the class as a whole.
Ms. Smith's overall grade of 85 fell right in the center of the
distribution. Her score of 79 on each exam was just below the median on
the first exam (quartiles were 75, 80, and 85) and just above the median
on the second exam (quartiles 70, 78, 88; the median for students in the
classroom edition was 80). Her grade on the paper was somewhat
disappointing (78, just below the first quartile for the class as a
whole and for all papers graded by the same grader).
On the more subjective evaluation components, Ms.
Smith's ratings were very good. Scores on these evaluations tend to run
high, but Ms. Smith was one of 14 students supervised by Amy Green to
receive the maximum score. The average of the peer ratings that Ms.
Smith received from the other students in her small group fell right at
the median of her group. Amy Green, an advanced Epidemiology doctoral
student who met with and observed 33 students in the weekly labs, writes
of Ms. Smith:
“Mary was one of the most dedicated of my students. She always
came prepared to lab, asked good questions, and frequently
volunteered to present her work. Many epidemiologic concepts are not
straightforward, and it was evident that Mary put a great deal of
effort and time into learning the material. She was one of the
hardest working students and would often email me with questions.
Her lab group benefited immensely from her inquisitive style. She
also made a concerted effort to synthesize information outside of
class. On a number of occasions she brought additional material to
the attention of the instructor and students, and shared relevant
and interesting ways to incorporate epidemiologic thinking into
public health. She would make an intelligent, energetic and
hard-working addition to any public health program”
Ms. Smith's performance on the EPID 160 exams demonstrates that she
is competitive with graduate students in public health degree programs
in her ability to learn epidemiology, and her successful lab
participation demonstrates that she works well with her peers and
contributes at least her share. Although her score on the article
critique was lower than those for most of the class, the grading for
these is less precise than for the examinations.
Please feel free to call (966-7436) or write (firstname.lastname@example.org) if I can
Victor J. Schoenbach, PhD