Skip to main content

OPWL testimonial: Class of 2013 testimonials

Prior to 2013, Boise State University’s online Master of Science in Organizational Performance and Workplace Learning (OPWL) was known as the Master of Science in Instructional and Performance Technology (IPT). This blog post contains testimonials from the class of 2013.


janel petersonJanel Peterson, Class of 2013

As a project manager, I have exposure to many areas of our organization to ensure we deliver our products and services on time, on schedule and on budget. The IPT program at Boise State has helped make my project management skills even more robust and complete. I am now able to identify areas within the project and the organization that may require additional or more focused attention to help ensure we deliver our best work. I can use my IPT toolkit in every aspect of my job now from managing the core project teams to rolling out new solutions and products to our customers.

The IPT curriculum has also enabled me to write quality training programs for a local non-profit organization where I have the opportunity to identify performance gaps within the organization’s volunteer resources and address those gaps with a solution that meets the organization’s needs.

I am grateful to Boise State’s IPT faculty and staff and my fellow students who shared all of their experiences and made this an outstanding master’s program, and a top-notch learning environment.


Peterson, J.*, & Allen, D. *(2009, November). Reducing Service Department Profit Loss Using the Behavioral Engineering Model. PerformanceXpress Newsletter, November, ’09 issue.

Bowden, D.*, Nitu, C.*, Peterson, J.*, & Sears, T.** (2011). Needs Assessment for a Fast Growing Global Training and Consulting Organization. PerformanceXpress Newsletter, October ’11 issue.


joe wesselJoe Wessel, Class of 2013

Training & Development Coordinator
Pepin Distributing Company

Prior to assuming a newly-formed position within my company, my career involved promotions, sales, marketing, special event management, and personnel management. Realizing that I needed to expand my competencies, my 6 month search for the “right” education ended at Boise State’s IPT program. The online experience provided the best of both worlds – flexible hours devoted to coursework while maintaining peer team project interactions.

The program allowed me to understand that being an HPT practitioner is about helping people. The wide scope of my Training and Development role centers on the people of my organization. Their growth and success is my focus. I am now able to produce comprehensive, functional tools and instruction for all employees by applying the rigorous standards of the IPT program to performance improvement. The IPT program’s disciplined methodology has provided me the confidence in practice of pure science and the compassion of the humanities.

I highly recommend this program for anyone wishing to begin in the performance management field or an experienced practitioner looking to advance their skills. It has been invaluable to me for career advancement, now in my current role as well as opening opportunities in the future.


Linda UrbanLinda Urban, Class of 2013

Principal Consultant
Linda Urban Communications

It seems fitting that I graduated in the first semester that the program has its new name, “Organizational Performance and Workplace Learning.” I would not have known that the “organizational performance” angle was what I wanted when I started, but it has turned out to be just what I needed, in so many ways.

I started the Boise State program (previously called “Instructional and Performance Technology”) with an eye toward deepening my instructional design expertise, and to gain experience in an online program, in part to inform my ability to teach online. I found as I moved through the courses that my interests expanded and shifted, and I wound up taking different electives than I initially expected to. I leave the program not only with enhanced skills in instructional design and the experience of how a rich online program can be conducted, but with knowledge and skills to expand my work in directions I had not imagined–into change management, workplace research, program evaluation, and sustainability.

Thanks to my experiences in the Boise State OPWL program, I am equipped to help clients ask and answer questions like these: What does it take to help individuals, teams, and organizations work more effectively? What does “work more effectively” mean, for a given situation? What kinds of changes and interventions are needed? What supports are needed to help organizations–and people–implement changes and transition to different ways of working?

I am grateful to the professors who have made such a rich curriculum available, who ask hard questions and push us to think deeply and broadly about our work in each class, and who insist we apply it on real-world projects. They truly opened doors for me that I didn’t know existed. And I am grateful to the wonderful program staff, and the classmates I’ve worked with on projects and in classes. You’ve all made it such a worthy experience!


Outstanding Graduate 2013


Urban, L., Christenson, M., & Benson, S. (2014, June). Learning the Ropes of Program Evaluation: A Case Study PerformanceXpress Newsletter, June, ’14 issue.


sheri nelsonSheri Nelson, Class of 2013

Instructional Designer/Trainer
AgFirst Farm Credit Bank

I would like to thank the Boise State IPT program for opening a door to a new career that I love. I chose the program because it focused on performance improvement as a whole, not just instruction. The instructors are practitioners with real world experience. I am applying what I have learned to my job with AgFirst every day. Prior to this my background was in software quality assurance before becoming a stay at home mom.

I was able to take all my classes online to complete my Master’s Degree and WELPS certificate. The program, projects, and faculty prepared me to enter the work force with experience. I completed four real world projects with a team of students. These projects gave me the confidence I needed to transition into this new arena. I highly recommend the Boise State IPT program.


susan bensonSusan Benson, Class of 2013

Senior Instructional Designer
American Express

For many years I had a goal of completing a Master’s degree in Instructional Design. In my career, I had been a corporate instructor and instructional designer for over 20 years. But everything I knew about instructional design was the result of employer-provided courses and experience. While I was considered a skilled designer, I knew there was more to know and do and I wanted to know it and do it! But family responsibilities, work life, time and finances seem to make that goal unattainable. Then in 2009, I had the good fortune to have a manager who counseled and encouraged me to pursue a degree at Boise State. At that time, he was in the IPT Master’s program. We had many conversations about his classes and what he was learning. I realized that even though it would take me four years to complete the program, the time was right for me to go back to school.

I have learned so much! I can’t say it was easy, but it was definitely worth it. My mind expanded beyond just Instructional Design to include other aspects of the larger field of Human Performance Technology. Boise’s program is well known and well respected. Just about every student in the program is working in some aspect of instructional design. This makes the interactions and contributions of classmates robust and insightful. Every semester was challenging, but the end result was worth it in terms of knowledge and application in “real-life” instructional design projects. The professors were encouraging; they were really interested in knowing what we thought. They asked us questions that required us to reflect and be bold in our opinions, what I would call “stepping out into the darkness” a few steps. They had high expectations of us. We all learned together and I felt I was in a safe environment where it was OK to make a mistake or state an opinion. Working with other students on projects gave me an opportunity to connect with intelligent, creative and fun people. Completing the class projects was a way to work for different companies and experience a little bit of their culture without having to interview for the job! Something great happens when you are on a team that successfully works together to create a solution that can impact performance.

It’s hard to believe those four years have passed. But during those four years, I’ve earned a Graduate Certificate in Workplace Instructional Design and a Master’s degree in Instructional and Performance Technology. It was a great experience. I appreciate the opportunity I have had to be a part of this program. It has made a lasting difference in my life.


Urban, L.**, Christenson, M.**, & Benson, S.** (2015). Learning the ropes of program evaluation A case study. Performance Improvement, 54(1), 7-13.

Urban, L.**, Christenson, M.**, & Benson, S.** (2014, June). Learning the Ropes of Program Evaluation: A Case Study PerformanceXpress Newsletter, June, ’14 issue.

Elliott, K.*, Hoveland, S.*, & Benson, S.* (2012, March). A Needs Assessment on Quality Control and Performance Issues at a Manufacturing Company PerformanceXpress Newsletter, March, ’12 issue.

Budveit, J.*, Benson, S. B.*, Inderbitzen, B.*, & Betty, K.* (2011). Closing a gap in performance for supervisors. PerformanceXpress Newsletter, November ’11 issue.

Lemanski, E.*, Wisniewski, A.*, & Benson, S.* (2011). Reaching the Quality Benchmark-Case Study. PerformanceXpress Newsletter, August ’11 issue.