Refresh and revise your syllabus for Spring semester!

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The wrap up of fall semester and plans for spring semester often begins with an update of your course syllabus.   A few years ago I attended a workshop in which we examined and revised our syllabi with some best practices in mind.   Beyond changing dates and logistics, read your syllabi with a student lens.   The syllabi serves a contract between instructor and student, not only expectations for students performance and engagement, but what students can expect to learn and the pathway to achieve the overall learning goals for the course.   

As most syllabi are now posted rather than printed, consider where you can include links to course and supplementary resources.   The past semesters I have recorded a video with screen share of the syllabus that I posted along with the document itself to highlight and review content pertinent to student success - and what they can expect from me.   This works well for online and face-to-face courses and supplements the briefer overview when orienting your class to the course.   It is also useful for students who may join the course after the first meeting or two.   I urge students to view as it helps provide a vision for the course and minimizes surprises ("I didn't know I was expected to do that...")

My department provided a syllabi template with content related to accommodations, honor code, and other policies and processes.   I incorporated policies for late work, expectations on attendance, and the like.   I'd be happy to share a copy of my syllabi (not that mine is the model) as designed for face-to-face classes and when taught online - just email me at   

Here's a link to Vanderbilt's Center for Teaching helpful and informative guide to syllabus design 

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About the Author
Jamie Pope, a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Assistant Professor of Practice in Medicine, Health and Society at Vanderbilt University, has worked in the areas of obesity research, health promotion, heart disease prevention, and since 2000 teaching introductory nutrition. Beyond the classroom, she adapted portions of her nutrition courses to produce a Massive Open Online Course attracting more than 175,000 participants from around the world. This experience earned Jamie an Innovation in Teaching award from the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing. She is the co-author of the textbook entitled Nutrition for a Changing World. Now in its second edition, the text is in use in over 140 universities across the U.S. and the recipient of a 2020 Textbook Excellence Award. Most recently she developed and produced an audio course for (Nutrition 101: Understanding the Science and Practice of Eating Well) that is also featured on platforms like Apple Books and Audible. Jamie holds a Master’s of Science degree in Nutrition and post graduate work in Health Psychology. She is a Fellow of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She has authored or contributed to numerous scientific and popular press publications. Jamie also held several corporate positions, serving as nutrition consultant and media representative.