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 2016.
Ross Eggett, Class of 2016
Human Resource Business Partner
Many years after completing my undergraduate degree and working as a professional, I knew that I wanted to pursue a graduate degree. I worked with a colleague who had recently completed the OPWL program, he recommended that I look into it. I am fortunate to work for a company that values advanced education and supported my efforts to pursue the OPWL program. When I started the program, I knew that I wanted to learn more about how to drive performance in a large organization. What I couldn’t have anticipated is the thorough education that the OPWL program provides that completely prepares practitioners to take a scientific and methodical approach to performance improvement.
Through the coursework, hands-on practical application, and classroom dialogue I learned how to systematically identify the root causes of performance gaps and opportunities. Once root causes are identified, the program equips students with practical tools and methods to achieve the desired results. At the end of a performance improvement effort, you learn how to quantify the impact of your changes. This new view of the workplace has enabled me to make valuable improvements in my business. I attribute this outcome to the incredibly thoughtful design of each course. Students are able to quickly learn theory and are given an opportunity for immediate application. Each student is challenged to problem solve in an authentic work case, doing work for real companies.
I found the Boise State Instructors and staff to be incredibly helpful. Every class was made up of small, intimate groups where ample attention was provided. The instructors were quick to answer questions and provided excellent support in any material that was challenging. The program’s support staff are equally supportive and willing to help with any administrative questions that are presented.
The experience that I had with the program has been invaluable. It has transformed the way that I approach workplace problem solving and has equipped me with skills that are valued and applicable across a wide range of fields and industries.
I highly recommend the program to anyone who wants to learn how to take a scientific approach to performance improvement and adult learning.
Outstanding Graduate 2016
Steven Fetterley, Class of 2016
After a career in the military in which I worked in several training positions, I was hired into training positions within the defense industry. After several years, I decided I wanted to stay within this field but expand into different industries and realized that to do so I would need the credentials to stand out. Since I was living overseas, I decided this would need to be online. I wanted a degree program that would meet not only this criterion but also the courses had to be corporate world focused, highly regarded by the professional community, receive praise by those who had been through it, and finally, tuition needed to be a decent rate. I spent several months searching and the OPWL program met the criteria. The OPWL program has a comprehensive website, and they have an active social media presence in which you can stay in touch with classmates.
I enrolled in the WELPs certificate program at the same time as the OPWL program. The program design revolves around maximum collaboration, always in discussion with classmates and producing projects for businesses with your peers. So I not only learned from professors who have years of corporate world experience in the performance consulting/ training field but also from students who often themselves hold positions within the training or performance improvement field. The OPWL program challenges you to think critically and will give you an in-depth understanding of how to produce results that corporations value. The OPWL program prepared me to handle in-depth needs analysis, evaluations, and a very thorough knowledge of instructional theories, cause analysis models and performance improvement interventions.
If you want to be able to make a difference in the field of Performance Improvement or Instructional Design, then I recommend you take a look at what the OPWL program offers. The program will challenge you, there will be some long nights, and it will not be easy, but it will all be worth it.
Daniel Zink, Class of 2016
Sr. Manager of Leadership Development
I have worked as a leader in learning and development for almost 20 years, contributing to organizational success for some of the largest corporations in the world. When I decided to pursue the Boise State IPT (Now OPWL) program, I already had my MBA in Finance and wanted something more targeted to the learning field. I spoke to many schools about their programs, but Boise State seemed to have a curriculum that was built for today’s business challenges and one that would resonate with today’s business leaders.
The Boise State OPWL Masters program has taught me a lot about myself and my capabilities. I was unsure of the rigor that an online program could deliver, but soon found out that this program was a hands-on curriculum that would challenge my individual as well as team member skills and abilities. Most every course in the program delivers real-world client experience from which you can grow and develop.
My degree is more than a piece of paper, but rather a set of experiences that I will leverage for the rest of my career. I have the confidence to create performance solutions for top companies, not because I learned about theories in a classroom, but because I created them throughout my course work and know that I can create those types of results for anyone. If you are looking for a degree that will set you apart as an experienced learning professional, look no further than the OPWL Masters program at Boise State University … Go Broncos!
2014 ISPI Case Study National Champion
Jake Patterson, Class of 2016
I discovered this field while working on my undergraduate degree in organizational communication and found it fascinating. The instructional design aspect is like a psychological thriller with wild twists every time you feel comfortable, and the performance improvement aspect is like the best mystery where every detail matters. I was excited when I found a master’s program that encompassed all these ideas.
I am a working professional with three children and an active role in my community, which means that my schedule is already packed; adding school to that load was challenging. The professors gladly worked with me, the advising staff helped me chart a path to graduation that worked with my life, and the online nature of the program afforded me the flexibility I needed. Each course is structured clearly so that I can plan my semester out. This is not the kind of program you can do just on Saturdays; this requires work most days, but the learning experience is worth it.
The professors are talented practitioners of their field who spend enough time with theory that you get it, and then plunge into real-world scenarios so you can see it. Our classwork was often based on projects that we found in our organizations. I made a difference in several companies over my time in the OPWL program by gathering and analyzing real data. Further, the professors provide feedback that appreciates your work but glimpses their oceanic expertise, and that was invaluable in the process of learning and growing.
This continues to be a field that I enjoy. My new job is because of my new degree, and I am having more fun in this job than any other job before. It’s a thriller. And a mystery. And a romance. But it is work that I love, and I owe that to the OPWL department at Boise State.
Jerrod Guddat, Class of 2016
Online Community Coordinator
The Organizational Performance and Workplace Learning (OPWL) Master’s degree was a wonderful experience for me. While going through the program I learned the importance of analyzing performance issues in the workplace and the variety of factors involved with those workplace issues. I learned everything from the effective analysis of a problem, its causes, and the organization in which the problem occurs, to the design, development, implementation, and evaluation of proposed performance solutions. I learned to think systematically and systemically about performance challenges and solutions. Perhaps most importantly, OPWL helped me realize that while training tends to be our go-to strategy for performance improvement, more often than not there are environmental factors (outside of training people) that can be adjusted to help improve individual, team, and organizational performance.
I am very grateful for my online OPWL experience and think this program could prove to be a valuable educational experience for anyone looking to identify, analyze, and recommend effective solutions to workplace performance challenges.
Lauren Weisberg, Class of 2016
Hatboro-Horsham School District
When I entered this program in the fall of 2012, I was not working in the HPT field. Rather, I was a public high school teacher who wanted to earn continuing ed. credits and acquire some skills in eLearning design and development. A colleague recommended Boise State University’s WELPS certification program on behalf of her husband, a training specialist for Dell Inc., who had recently completed the program and spoke very highly of it.
When I searched for information about the WELPS program online, I noticed the Master’s degree option in Organizational Performance and Workplace Learning. While as a teacher I already had a background in instructional design, I was curious how I could build upon that knowledge and potentially apply it to a future career in designing instruction and training for adults. I was also intrigued to learn more about “human performance technology,” which was a foreign concept to me at that time. I figured it was worth the investment to gain some additional knowledge beyond the WELPS certification, so I also applied for both the M.S. program and the WELPS certificate, since my school district agreed to cover a portion of my tuition costs.
At first, I was worried that I’d be in over my head because I had no prior experience working in the HPT field. But one of the many strengths of this program is the teamwork aspect, where I got to solve real life organizational performance problems working alongside individuals with years of experience as practitioners in the field. My insecurities faded quickly, and I became immersed in my coursework and an enthusiastic contributor to my team projects. 40 credits later, I’ve developed an incredible arsenal of knowledge not only from my professors, but from my peers, with whom I am still in contact. I am looking forward to applying my new knowledge within my current organization (possibly in an instructional coaching role for my school district), and to one day transition careers into a training and development specialist role.
I strongly recommend this program to anyone who enjoys finding creative solutions for problems, likes working with others, and wants a challenge, regardless of your current field of expertise!
Lyons, B., Romano, M, & Weisberg, L. (2016, June). Case Study: Evaluation of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Electronic Performance Support System for the Fast Response Cutter. PerformanceXpress Newsletter, June ’16 issue.
Aull, J., Bartley, J., Olson, C., Weisberg, L., & Winiecki, D. (2016). Lessons learned while completing a needs assessment of ITSS, Inc. career development opportunities: A case study. Performance Improvement Quarterly, 28(4), 7–26.
Aull, J., Bartley, J., Olson, C., & Weisberg, L. (2014, December). A Needs Assessment of ITSS Inc. Career Development Opportunities. PerformanceXpress Newsletter, December, ’14 issue.
Nicole Licata, Class of 2016
I was working as an instructional designer for several years when I decided to broaden my skills and have more options professionally. When comparing Boise State’s OPWL program offerings with other universities, Boise won. Course offerings were diverse, relevant to the industry, and aligned to my needs and interests.
Because of my work schedule, I took one class per semester and this enabled me to have a balanced life. Classes were challenging, yet manageable and even though this program was not in a traditional classroom setting, group projects gave me the opportunity to collaborate with other students. I still maintain a friendship with one of my teammates.
Now, I am in a manager position and I thank Boise for the confidence, knowledge, and skills that make me a valuable leader.