Bigfork High School students enrolled in Hans Bodenhamer’s Geographical Information Systems class will recieve dual credit with Flathead Valley Community College starting next week.
“What they want to do is they want to encourage more students to take advantage of the community college,” Bodenhamer said. “My hope is for this type of thing to spread to other schools in the area.”
It’s part of an FVCC program called Running Start and it’s the second course of its kind taught at BHS. FVCC hires high school teachers to become adjuct faculty members who teach college level curriculum classes at their participating high school. Columbia Falls, Flathead and Arlee high schools are also participating in the program with classes from welding to math. The program also gives in-district, Flathead and Lincoln counties, high school students six college credits for free.
Charlie Appleby has taught College Writing 1 in Bigfork for the last couple of years. BHS students recieve three credits for the writing class at FVCC in addition to credit for the class at the high school.
Bodenhamer’s 11 enrolled students will gain two college credits for the Projects in GIS class, which begins on Jan. 21. It’s a continuation of his fall semester GIS class, but it’s being upgraded to coincide with the existing FVCC syllabus for Projects in GIS.
“It’s FVCC’s course, but Hans Bodenhammer will be teaching it for FVCC at the high school,” FVCC High School Relations Coordinator Beth Romain said. “It was a natural progression.”
Projects in GIS was an existing class curriculum at FVCC that wasn’t being taught and Bodenhamer has taught GIS classes at the high school for the last few years. Now, in addition to coming up with a project proposal, finding the data sets and completing a GIS project, Bigfork’s GIS students will have to complete a final project report and work with the metadata for each layer. Metadata acts like an information packet and instruction manual for how each layer of data on a GIS map came together.
Romain said having dual credit classes like this one is one way for FVCC to reach out to high school students who never felt they would go to college.
“Research shows that high school students who leave high school with college credits earned have a higher success rate of completing their college education,” Romain said. “A lot of what it takes is giving students the opportunity to take college classes.”
High school students have to take the compass placement test in order to enroll in the dual credit classes. The test is given to ensure that students enrolling in college level classes will be successful. It guages levels in reading, writing and math.
FVCC surveying and environmental science professor Tim Eichner helped push for the Bigfork-taught GIS class to become a dual credit class at FVCC. He said he watched some of Bodenhamer’s students give presentations at the Intermountain GIS Conference in Kalispell last spring.
“Just the amount of work that they put into their projects is awesome,” Eichner said. “I’d say it’s comparable to the amount of work that a college student would put in.”