Curriculum Development of a Nutrition Course

On Friday my new project was to develop a new nutrition course to be offered at WVU.  Emily and brainstormed ideas and decided to create an online class called “HNF 251 – Discernment of Nutrition Claims In the Media”.  Emily had taken a similar course at the University of Nebraska, and we thought it would be a very popular course because there is no class like it offered at WVU.  The overall description of  the course is the application of educated judgment to accept or reject the claims made by individuals who present themselves as “experts” in health and nutrition, exercise methods, nutritional supplements, and fact verses fiction in lifetime weight management.

The exciting part about developing this new course is that there is potential for it to be turned into an actual live class to be offered next spring or summer.  I do not have much experience with curriculum development, so this was a bit challenging at first.  The more I worked on developing the class, however, the more I really enjoyed the idea of maybe teaching a college class one day.  The groundwork for developing any course curriculum is to begin with the syllabus and the course objectives. The course objectives are the heart of what the student will learn and be able to do at the conclusion of taking this class.  To develop the 10 different course objectives, I began by thinking to myself “What key ideas and skills do I want the student to learn in this class?”.

Course Objectives – Upon completion of the course, students will be able to:

  1. Use scientific research to evaluate nutritional claims.
  2. Evaluate and recognize expert and peer-reviewed sources verses unreliable or questionable sources of health and nutrition resources in the media.
  3. Navigate and be familiar with using a variety of media outlets.
  4. Gain knowledge about current and contemporary nutrition hot topics, issues, and controversies.
  5. Discuss conflicting viewpoints about controversial issues in nutrition and foods.
  6. Have a better understanding of information literacy and how they can apply it in their professional career.
  7. Demonstrate exemplary writing and communication skills.
  8. Demonstrate their health knowledge and individual interests by regularly posting and updating in an online nutritional blog.
  9. Explain and defend a valid nutritional viewpoint with evidence-based support.
  10. Independently use the WVU Health Sciences Center and Evansdale Library to access reliable sources of nutrition information.

The different assignments that would be required for the course would be weekly online quizzes, maintenance of an online nutrition blog, a literature review paper on a controversial nutrition topic, and various homework assignments.  Hopefully as Emily and I continue to work on the curriculum of this course, it becomes more refined and developed so it could potentially be a successful course at WVU.


PAWsome lesson plans :)

Today I continued to work on and refine the SDA binder.  I included a calendar of events for the year, instructions for volunteer opportunities, and ideas for different social events.  The most fun part of my day  (revealing my inner nutrition-nerd) was surfing the Health EdCo company website.  Health EdCo is a company that distributes unique and innovative health education materials and products such as 5 lb fat models, food serving size models, nutrition and physical activity posters and games, BMI calculators, etc.  I had to create a “wish list” for the specific educational tools to order from this company that could be incorporated into a community dietitian’s lesson plans.

Another assignment I had today was learning about the grant writing process. Because I am extremely interested in teaching in higher education, I know that learning how to apply for grants is extremely important.  The specific grant I was working on was through Build-a-Bear Workshop (which I love!). The grant sponsors “PAWsome” causes that benefit children’s health and wellness programs.  Emily, my roommate and fellow dietetic intern, and myself were in charge of brainstorming ideas for programs and lessons that could be benefited at The Shack Neighborhood House.  The Shack is a wonderful resource that provides many fun opportunities for children and families of low-income around the Morgantown area.

The idea we brainstormed is based on the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Kids Eat Right website and campaign.  The main take home message of the Kids Eat Right campaign is to “Shop Smart, Cook Healthy, Eat Right”.  To incorporate this message into creating a program for the Shack (to hopefully be funded by the Build-A-Bear grant), we created a three-part nutrition literacy program.  The “Shop Smart” component would consist of a tour of a local grocery tour, where participants would learn where to find healthy food in the grocery store and how to read food labels.  The “Cook Healthy” part would be a healthy cooking demonstration where the participants can learn skills to create a healthy meal for their family.  And the final “Eat Right” portion would be a larger community dinner that would promote social interactions, conscious eating, and eating meals as a family.

“How-to” binder for the Student Dietetic Association

As an undergrad, most students who want to get involved on campus join a club or organization relating to their major or field.  This is a good way to meet people in your classes, network with your peers, volunteer in the community, and raise awareness for your organization on campus.  As a nutrition major at Penn State, I was a member of the Student Nutrition Association (SNA) for a few years and the Secretary my senior year.  Now that I am in my dietetic internship at WVU, I haven’t really put much thought into my time in SNA. However, today I have been putting some thought into my experience with SNA and I am realizing more and more how important it truly was to my development in the start of my career.

The reason I am posting about collegiate clubs and orgs is because of a major project I have been working on today and probably throughout the week.  My assignment is to develop a “how-to” binder for WVU’s undergrad Student Dietetic Association (SDA).  The binder is to include job descriptions for the different board positions, a calendar of SDA events for the academic year, develop in-depth lesson plans for implementing volunteer and fundraising events, include a list of guest speakers (such as dietitians and professors) to speak at meetings, and develop monthly bulletin board posters.  The overall goal of this project is for any dietetic association in any part of the country can take our binder, be able to have a successful organization, and adopt the many lesson plans in their local community and campus. It is very difficult to lead a group of students on a college campus, but hopefully this binder will allow other student dietetic associations to have a successful year.

SNA was very involved with Penn State’s Dance Marathon, also known as THON. THON is now a year-long effort that raises funds and awareness for the fight against pediatric cancer. This is a picture of myself and fellow SNA members fighting the cold and canning for donations.
To learn more about THON or make a donation, visit

SNA raised $1,719.01 in 7 hours for pediatric cancer!

WVU Dietetic Interns Volunteering!

WVU Dietetic Interns Volunteering!

WVU Dietetic Interns Volunteering at the Rosenbaum Family House at Ruby Hospital in Morgantown, WV. We made a delicious and nutritious dinner for the families staying at the hospital. The menu included chili, baked potatoes, broccoli, and angel food cake.

Pictured (left to right): Alicia Debusca, Emily Todhunter, Roanna Martin, Mary Rodavich (myself), and Leah Gecheo