Faculty Highlight: Eric Crumpler Teaches the Science Behind Requesting a Recommendation

Thursday, August 26, 2021

By Wendy Jo Moyer

When you think of a chemistry course, the first thing that likely comes to mind is the periodic table and lab experiments. But in Professor of Chemistry Eric Crumpler’s courses, he also includes a topic you wouldn’t expect — how to request a recommendation from a professor.

“In our environment now with the pandemic, it’s harder than ever for students to request a recommendation,” Eric explained. “It’s really difficult when our classes are online and they don’t have direct access to their professors. How do you go about contacting your professor?”

Eric added that it’s equally as difficult for faculty members, as not having a regular face-to-face connection makes it difficult to share strong examples of students’ backgrounds when writing recommendation letters.

To help his students and his fellow colleagues with this process, Eric created a Canvas module that allows students to practice reference letter etiquette. The module requires students to learn practices toward building a resume, personal statement and drafting a cover letter to properly inquire a letter of reference or recommendation.  This involves the Writing Center to review and assist the students in organizing their thoughts and formats. During the process, students use their Atlas accounts (specifically their LifeMap – My Portfolio application) to house all the information for storage and retrieval. They also create interview videos to enhance their portfolio and introduction, for times in which face-to-face interactions cannot occur.

“It’s great because you can access it from anywhere,” he said. “Then you can forward it to a professor to ask for a recommendation.”

The My Portfolio application allows the students to forward information and gives professors some background on the student’s experiences, and the video helps the faculty member put a face to the name. Then, if professors have any questions, they can email the students.

To drive students to make their requests early, Eric covers the module early in the semester and offers extra credit for completion.

Another best practice that Eric has started since transitioning to online teaching is walking through chemistry problems and practice exams via Zoom and answering questions for students. He records each session for those who do not have time to attend the live session. This allows him to support those students who often wait until the last minute to study for exams, as they can listen to the sample problem responses.

“Many students will email questions to me but many will wait until the last minute, not allowing time for a response,” he said. “When you’re cramming online and need answers, the Zoom recordings may include those answers.”

Do you know a faculty member doing great work? Or, perhaps you’d like to share the work you’re doing? Send the colleague’s (or your) name to us at  The_Grove@valenciacollege.edu and include Faculty Highlight Nomination in the subject line of your email. We might just feature your colleague (or you) as an upcoming Faculty Highlight.

1 Comment

  • Susan Gosnell said:

    Congratulations Eric!

    It was so great seeing you on campus again this past week!
    I've missed our chat sessions.

    AMFri, 27 Aug 2021 09:24:53 +0000Fri, 27 Aug 2021 09:24:53 +0000am21,9:24 am

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