This blog post contains testimonials from students of Boise State University’s online Master of Science in Organizational Performance and Workplace Learning (OPWL), classes of 2019-2022.
Mykal Duffy, Class of 2019
Training Institute Manager
Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence
I can say with 100% certainty that I would not be in the position that I am today, had it not been for Boise State’s OPWL program and all the wonderful staff associated with it. Mine wasn’t the most traditional of routes, but with the support and guidance from people like Dr. Marker and Jo Ann Fenner, I was able to complete my degree and begin my new career trajectory.
After briefly working as a contract Learning Design Specialist, I was able to obtain a full-time eLearning Specialist position with the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Demonstrating the skills and knowledge that I picked up through the program allowed me to bring new ideas and a vision to their Training Institute, and just 11 months later I was promoted to the Manager position. Again, I think it was largely due to the ideas and foundations provided to me by the OPWL program that made me such an outstanding candidate in their eyes, and I am eternally grateful that I made my decision to be a Bronco!
Josh Shires, Class of 2019
Technical Learning and Training Specialist
After working as a technical classroom trainer responsible for developing my own materials, I felt I was lacking foundational knowledge to ensure my courses were helping participants improve their performance on the job. After talking to Boise State about their OPWL Master’s degree, I knew I had found the course I was after.
With practical application of evidence-based performance improvement theory, and the flexibility to study online, Boise State’s OPWL program has given me the tools I need to perform as an Instructional Designer and Performance Improvement specialist.
Being based in Copenhagen for the entirety of the program has not hampered my ability to lead project-based work in multiple disciplines, from Needs Assessment through to Instructional Design and Evaluation. The program has given me the opportunity to work cross-culturally with people from a wide range of professional backgrounds, in a nurturing and rewarding environment, made possible by the excellent professors and advisors at Boise State.
Andrea Kelley, Class of 2020
When I started investigating graduate schools, several people at my workplace recommended the Organizational Performance and Workplace Learning program at Boise state. Besides the online convenience, what stood out for me in those recommendations was the way they described the rigor of the program, and how much of what they’d learned they were using on the job.
And now that I am a proud OPWL graduate myself, I find myself saying the same to those I recommend the program to. I have several job aids and tools I developed or adapted during my time in the OPWL program that I use almost daily in my role, helping me merge evidence-based practices seamlessly into my everyday work reality. I’m living the OPWL dream!
But the best part of the OPWL program for me is the faculty and staff. I took almost seven years to get this degree while balancing a busy corporate role and motherhood. In that seven years there were two family deaths, a seriously ill child and coronavirus.
There were times where I came close to giving up. But the genuine empathy and personal care I received from the OPWL faculty and staff was what kept me going, and I did it! It is rare, a graduate program with both a rigorous, immediately applicable curriculum and heart, but the Boise State University OPWL department pulls it off. If you are undecided, I hope this helps.
Now…I’m off to try to make the workplace world a little better, one data-based decision at a time.
Chris Lewis, Class of 2021
Instructional Systems Designer
I earned an M.S. in OPWL and a graduate certificate in Workplace Performance Improvement (WPI). The program is renowned, respected, and rigorous, and provided me with a wealth of knowledge and skills that bring value to my workplace. Working with real-world clients added authenticity to my class projects and a safe environment to implement what I read about throughout my courses. I now have an extensive toolbox of models, frameworks, and evidence-based practices that bring value to my clients and that I can apply across PI efforts that require both training and non-training solutions. I have a deeper and more diverse understanding of change management, instructional design, adult learning theory, analysis, and evaluation that I never thought possible.
The staff is the most caring and supportive I could have been blessed with and their support made it possible to complete the program while living with major depressive disorder and narcolepsy. It’s exciting to be able to tell others about the program and show them books and scholarly articles that my professors have published as authorities in their fields.
You will not regret your time here and you will become part of a wonderful family!
Shannon Hanley, Class of 2021
Rutherford County Schools (TN)
The Department of Organizational Performance and Workplace Learning at Boise State will change the way you see the world and how you solve problems. I graduated from the program equipped with many evidence-based tools and a solid understanding of the leading research behind performance improvement. More importantly, while enrolled in the program, I had the opportunity to work with my classmates and fellow professionals on real-world projects that made a difference to our clients. With OPWL, I literally got to talk with peers from around the world, and the professors were invested in our progress, providing feedback and direction along the way.
Whether networking with your colleagues, creating a professional portfolio, or working on your own career development, OPWL leads the way with stellar library resources, engaging instructors, and a caring environment. With OPWL, you’ll earn more than just a degree, it will become your academic home.
Nicole Imler, Class of 2021
Boise State’s OPWL program completely changed the trajectory of my career. I often compare Instructional design to a home improvement project. Everyone is focused on choosing appliances, decorations or paint colors, but the success of the project lies in the framing and structure. This program gave me the guidance and resources to build my structure – one helps me design efficient training programs that have high impacts on business objectives. I am the lead designer of training programs that help thousands of people learn their new job role. It’s a huge responsibility that I am prepared for thanks to this program.
Every day when I start my workday, I reference something I learned in this program. Every single day, I am able to do my work with confidence, professionalism and joy. Every single day, I am grateful for the professors and staff of the OPWL program for helping me build a career I’m proud of.
2021 OPWL Academic Excellence
(4.0 GPA throughout their study)
2021 OPWL Honors graduate
(earned a cumulative GPA of a 4.0 and her portfolio website was designated “Outstanding” by the reviewers, which acknowledges the fluency and eloquence in their knowledge and practice)
Jill Warwick, Class of 2022
By the time I enrolled in the OPWL program, I had worked for four years as an Evaluator in the education field. I chose this program because of its close ties to my current work in order to further my knowledge, but also because there would be other topics and perspectives throughout the curriculum. This program challenged me personally, as I balanced schoolwork, professional work, the COVID-19 pandemic, and personal life, but also opened my eyes to new organizational approaches and theories as well as a world of research I did not know existed. I was surprised by how much I could contribute to discussion board conversations with my own experience, when I had become accustomed to being the youngest person in most rooms. Support was provided at every level, from admissions to in the classroom.
Class projects provided me and my fellow classmates the chance to practice what was being covered in class in real-time and experience those situations for ourselves with professors ready to provide guidance and things to consider at any time. I know my learning will only continue as I progress further into my career. However, the time within the OPWL program provided me with foundational information and the confidence that I can take charge of my own learning.
OPWL Honors Graduate