Monday, October 30, 2017

Dual credit: UIS offers biochemistry course to SHG students

Sacred Heart-Griffin High School senior Cole Taylor has found out quickly that high school and college-level courses aren’t the same.

Taylor is one of 18 SHG seniors enrolled in a new dual-credit biochemistry course at University of Illinois Springfield.

The class is the first time UIS has offered high school students college credit for a course taught by a university faculty member — associate professor of biochemistry Stephen Johnson.

The high school seniors meet three times a week for two-hour 15-minute sessions, with an extra three-hour lab on Fridays.

Johnson, a parent of seven children, said he came up with the idea after speaking with fellow parents at SHG and teachers at the school about ways to enhance the science program.

The course gives students a jump-start on college because they have an opportunity to earn credit, but, perhaps more important, exposes them to college, he said.

“It gives students who want to be a doctor a chance to see biochemistry before they go into premed. Maybe they decide they’re not interested or, more importantly, decide maybe they want to do more,” Johnson said.

The biochemistry class starts with a review of general chemistry and then goes beyond what is taught at the high school level, Johnson said. The lab work also is more in-depth than what high school students are typically exposed to. For example, students learn how to separate DNA, Johnson added. 

Johnson said he hopes the pilot program will expand for more dual-credit classes across UIS.

In addition, he also hopes to expand it to other high schools.

UIS Chancellor Susan Koch said the dual-credit program has great potential in attracting students to UIS.

“These are really talented kids and students that we would love to have at UIS after they graduate,” she said. “We look forward to talking to Dr. Johnson about how it went and seeing how we can expand it into other areas.”

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on October 29, 2017.

Read the entire article online.