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OPWL testimonial: Class of 2017 testimonials

This blog post contains testimonials from students of Boise State University’s online Master of Science in Organizational Performance and Workplace Learning (OPWL), class of 2017.


aly summersAly Summers, Class of 2017

I am a graduate of the Boise State Universities Master of Science Organizational Performance and Workplace Learning Program, and it was some of the most impactful and meaningful learning I’ve encountered in my life. I was stuck at my job for the longest time, and didn’t even know that this program existed – or that it was the perfect advancement for my career. When I encountered another graduate of the program, who is a mentor and friend to me, I knew I had to take the big, scary step and go back to school.

The instructors are open, honest, always willing to help, and hold you to high standards. The staff is friendly and responsive, and I always knew what the path was for me to graduate – what I needed to complete, and what course load was right for me.

When I tore my ACL and had to drop a class, the university worked with me to help me make sure I had all the paperwork I needed and helped me through the whole process – they made a situation that should have been stressful and scary very easy.

The coursework is difficult, and requires a lot of time and effort, but it’s well worth it in the end and provided me with a top-notch education. I had the opportunity to network with other students – many of whom I still speak with today – and even worked with several instructors and students to publish a paper in an industry magazine.

As a graduate, the university has a great alumni program, and the instructors are all active in the field and provide you with additional opportunities to continue to grow as a practitioner. You get out what you put in, and the instructors really care, so you should, too. It’s your future, and if you care about it and have an interest in adult learning and instructional design, I would recommend this program.


Chyung, S. Y.+, Gardin, B.*, Summers, A.*, & Aument, K.* (2016, February 1). Role-playing scenarios liberate eLearning from the “page-turner” box: Intoxicated guests. The eLearning Guild’s Learning Solutions Magazine.

Chyung, S. Y.+, Gardin, B.*, Summers, A.*, & Aument, K.* (2016, January 25). Developing scenarios with RED programs: Troubleshooting for computer lab staff. The eLearning Guild’s Learning Solutions Magazine.


dwayne dunnDwayne Dunn, Class of 2017

Manager, Business Process Effectiveness

Selecting the OPWL program from Boise State University was one of the easiest and most rewarding career investment strategies I have made. Performance improvement, needs analysis, and instructional design are daily facets of my current position and my MS in OPWL degree from Boise State University clearly sets me apart from other applicants.

In addition, the people, professors, and connections I have made through my time in the OPWL program are simply the best. The staff and instructors genuinely care about me as a student and working professional. Other schools I researched made me feel more like a number. If you are considering a program, consider the OPWL program through Boise State University.


jennifer shamsyJennifer Shamsy, Class of 2017

Instructional Designer

As a self-taught instructional designer/online educator, I started researching degree programs because I wanted to legitimize what I already knew and fill in the many gaps in my knowledge and skill set. After looking at several programs, I came upon Boise State’s Organizational Performance and Workplace Learning program. Looking through the materials online, I immediately knew I had found a curriculum and small community of faculty and students that were the perfect fit!

The challenging coursework helped me broaden my knowledge and gain competency through application. Throughout the program, there was an emphasis on evidence-based and ethical practice joined with systematic and systemic processes. The program armed me with tools and theoretical knowledge to think and practice in new ways allowing me to not only add value but also do what was right for the client/user. This was in parallel with real-world projects and interaction with clients that supported meaningful application and synthesis as opposed to artificial examples and rote memorization. Challenging coursework was followed by the final portfolio defense culminating activity that called on me to synthesize, reflect, and evaluate all that I had done in the program.

Though this program supports instructional design, it situates it in the much more valuable and holistic practice of performance improvement. I incorporated a graduate certificate into my degree program through carefully selected electives that helped me to further refine my area of emphasis.

Just as important as the curriculum is the faculty. The entire program is centered around student success with faculty members that maintain a very active presence in their courses. They don’t just teach concepts; they actively use those concepts in their courses! Instructors are quick to answer questions or address concerns and provide a wealth of timely feedback needed to better understand and use what I was learning. This engagement and feedback is key to any quality online program. I also took advantage of several opportunities that are available within the program and beyond to engage with faculty such as research and assistantship positions.

Finally, curriculum and instructors are important, but support staff is vital to success! Administrators were knowledgeable and supportive providing information that helped me to better align my decisions with my desired educational/career goals and resources available.

I found the OPWL program to be one of the most challenging but also most rewarding academic experiences of my career. I would without hesitation recommend it to anyone seeking to broaden and/or improve their knowledge and skills in instructional design and human performance improvement.


Graduated with Honors


Instructional Design Project: Cutter Line Handling


jie chenJie Chen, Class of 2017

Instructional Designer

I have six years’ experience in Learning & Development and Human Resource Management in multinational and family-owned companies. Through previous work experience, I developed expertise in training needs analysis, employee training planning and evaluation, instructional design, performance management, and learning management system administration. Gradually I realized instructional programs weren’t the right solutions to many performance problems, so I researched various masters programs related to human performance and workplace learning. OPWL program was the perfect fit for me because it covered both performance and learning outcome focused practice.

My time in the OPWL program was one of the challenging and rewarding experiences in my life. I learned and gradually build up my OPWL repository and networking resources by completing various projects in different courses, including:

  • Needs assessment project for a public research institution, including identifying and assessing performance opportunities and their causes, prioritizing problems and making feasible solutions
  • Online training program evaluation project for a medical center, including exploring various models of both formative and summative evaluations, designing and implementing evaluation plan, and presenting the evaluation report
  • Instructional design project for a high-tech company, including performance/task/learner analysis, designing instructional objectives and assessment, and writing up detailed instructional plan
  • Performance-oriented blended learning solution for a high-tech company
  • Systematic literature review & one graduate course design for the topic of mentoring in the workplace
  • Ethnographic research project for an online graduate class
  • Three mini rapid e-learning development projects with Adobe Captivate and Storyline

I also took advantage of OWPL 595 – Readings and Conference and Graduate Assistance Scholarship to be actively involved in the research and course design projects in a way that helped me reflect, synthesize, and apply the knowledge and skills I gained in the courses.

Finally, I am truly grateful to OPWL professors and staff. They were highly professional, accessible, knowledgeable, and showed great interest in students’ growth. I was motivated and inspired by their passion for education and for the high-quality coaching delivered in and out of the courses.

With the capabilities and networking I have built up in the OPWL program, I am able to effectively collaborate with the clients to design and deliver the value-added solutions (including instructional and non-instructional solutions) in a way that is systematic, systemic and using evidence-based practice. I would highly recommend it to anyone who seeks to broaden and/or improve their knowledge and skills in instructional design and human performance technology.


Mentoring, workplace learning, and performance improvement: Evidence, evaluation, and research methods from a multiple studies literature review. Lisa A. Giacumo, Jie Chen, and Aurora Seguinot-Cruz, Boise State University. Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT) Conference 2017.


julie barkinJulie Barkin, Class of 2017

Assistant Department Manager
Institute of Nuclear Power Operations

After working in the steel industry for 12 years in various roles including sales administration, inventory management, and training, I began working at the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations in 2013. I had desired to go back to school for a number of years and started researching various masters programs related to e-learning and instructional design. I learned about the OPWL program from a colleague and OPWL graduate. She had great things to say about the program, and it looked like the right fit for me. In August 2014, I enrolled.

During my time in the OPWL program, I completed various project-based assignments that allowed me to gain experience in providing solutions to real-world organizational problems. The knowledge I gained also provided me with an expanded view of workplace performance improvement beyond the realm of training.

The opportunity to lead numerous course projects focused on initiatives at my workplace furthered my learning and positively influenced my career. I’m truly grateful for my time in the OPWL program. It has provided me with the increased knowledge, skills and confidence to make me an effective manager and leader.


Graduated with Honors


Chyung, S. Y., Barkin, J. R, & Shamsy, J. (2018). Evidence-based survey design: The use of negatively-worded items in surveys. Performance Improvement Journal, 57(2).

Barkin, J. R, Chyung, S. Y., & Lemke, M. (2017). Following a ten-step procedure to evaluate the Administrative Services Qualification Card program. Performance Improvement Journal, 56(8), 6-15. doi: 10.1002/pfi.21717

Aument, K. & Barkin, J. (2016, August). Case Study: Reducing Scheduling Errors. PerformanceXpress Newsletter, August ’16 issue.