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OPWL Graduate / Research Assistant Positions

ACCEPTING GA/RA APPLICATIONS for fall 2017/spring 2018.
Application deadline is Friday, April 7, 2017 at 12 pm (mountain time).

The purpose of the virtual Graduate Assistantships (GA) or Research Assistant (RA) is to support promising individuals, regardless of their location, who are committed to continuing their education at the graduate level.

 Graduate Assistantship
General DutiesAssist OPWL faculty with grading and preparation of course materials
ExpectationsEnroll in a minimum of 5 credits each semester

Work 10 hours per week for the OPWL department

Maintain at least a 3.00 GPA
CompensationFee waiver covering the cost of 5 credits each fall and spring semester

$15.67/hour for 10 hours per week (about $5,000/academic year)

Health insurance
RequirementsMust be a fully admitted master’s degree seeking student
LocationAn OPWL GA is not required to relocate to Boise to fulfill the duties of the position
TimeframeFall & Spring semesters only

 Research Assistant
General DutiesAssist OPWL faculty with research and service activities, literature reviews, conference presentations, and publications.
ExpectationsWork 5-19 hours per week for the OPWL department

Maintain at least a 3.00 GPA
RequirementsThere are no minimum credit hour requirements and graduates are welcome to apply
LocationAn OPWL RA is not required to relocate to Boise to fulfill the duties of the position
TimeframeBased on faculty need


At a minimum, you should have:

  • The ability to manage your time and work independently under minimal supervision
  • The ability to take direction and meet expectations
  • The ability to teach yourself how to use new software tools
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills
  • Experience with common office productivity software, including Google Docs and MS-Office
  • Access to Skype, along with video, and the ability to use both

The preferred candidate will have:

  • Prior experience in editing/proofreading
  • Prior experience working in virtual teams
  • Prior experience in research
  • Involvement in professional communities and organizations


Step 1:Complete the Graduate / Research Assistant Application
Step 2:Email Resume & Cover Letter

The cover letter should describe ways in which you:

• Manage your time and work independently under minimal supervision
• Take direction and meet expectations
• Teach yourself how to use new software tools
• Demonstrate excellent verbal and written communication skills

Send email to Kelly Weak ( with “2017-2018 GA/RA Application” as the email subject line.
Step 3:Email Writing Sample

**Only for students that have not yet taken any OPWL courses**

Write a paper that is no longer than 5 double-spaced pages (approximately 1500 words) in which you (a) specify one or more themes that are common to the three articles and (b) develop each theme by explaining how it shows up in each article and ties the three articles together. For the writing sample, read the following three articles:

• Mager, R.F. & Pipe, P. (1976). You really oughta wanna or how not to motivate people. Nursing, 6(8), 65-69

• Rosenberg, M. J., Coscarelli, W. C., & Hutchinson, C. S. (1999). The origins of the field. In H. D. Stolovitch & E. J. Keeps (Eds.). Handbook of Human

• Performance Technology (second edition) (pp. 24-36), San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Stolovitch, H. (1982). Performance technology: An introduction. NSPI Journal, 21(3), 16-19

Send email to Kelly Weak ( with “2017-2018 GA/RA Application” as the email subject line.

Please send all questions or inquiries to Kelly Weak, Operations Manager, (208) 426-1312 or

Current OPWL Graduate Assistants

Photo Jie Chen

My name is Jie Chen. Currently I live in the beautiful city of San Diego, CA with my husband and my little girl. I had a bachelor’s degree of Public Health Administration from Fudan University (China), and started the OPWL master program in August, 2015.

I have six years’ experience in learning and talent development, together with exposure to generalist Human Resources. Meanwhile I have been volunteering my services as a marketing member in the ISPI Bay Area/Boise State chapter since April, 2016. I believe being a graduate teaching assistant would help me apply, expand and enhance my knowledge and skills in ways that are unique from the experiences I have in my classes and in other workplaces. I am really looking forward to assisting with Dr. Lisa Giacumo, other OPWL faculty, and students as Graduate Assistant in 2016 fall semester and 2017 spring semester.

Photo Nick Graham

Nick Graham was raised in Boise, Idaho, where he currently resides. He was admitted to the OPWL program to pursue a Master of Science degree in Fall 2015, and is presently assisting with research under Dr. Quincy Conley in the Boise State iPerform Lab. He is a new member of the Bay Area/Boise State chapter of the International Society for Performance Improvement. His areas of interest for research include human-computer interaction, augmented reality, human factors & ergonomics, and sustainability; focusing on technology’s uses and its impact on daily life. Nick is looking forward to serving Boise State students and faculty as a graduate assistant in addition to continuing his involvement in the iPerform Lab and the field of human performance.

Photo Grayley McWatters

Grayley McWatters

I live in Barrie, Ontario with my beautiful wife and two equally-beautiful children. I have been an adult education and workplace training professional for the past 30 years.

As I enter my fourth semester in the MS OPWL program, I have been continually impressed with the quality of programming and integration across the courseware that I have studied to date. Nowhere in my past have I experienced such a consistently high level of curriculum planning and delivery support. It is so rewarding at this stage in my career to feel that my program choice has placed me where I need to be and has assisted me in becoming more competitive in the job market.

The Graduate Assistantship program is a premiere example of the exposure and the opportunities that are available to anyone who is seeking genuine program enrichment. This year I will be assisting the completion of the research and an article, under the leadership of Dr. Chyung, that addresses the functional strengths of the two most widely used authoring tools on the market. We expect the article to be published later this year in the E-Learning Guild. I hope to continue my involvement with other faculty in the upcoming semesters and further develop my research and writing capabilities for future publications and conference presentations.

Photo Sara Orton

Sara Orton lives in the beautiful city of Boise, Idaho with her husband and three sons. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Communications and started the OPWL program in January, 2015. She is looking forward to contributing to the OPWL field as a graduate assistant for Dr. Anthony Marker. She enjoys research and writing and had the opportunity to serve as an undergraduate student researcher on several research studies focusing on executive-level women in Idaho’s top companies. She has served as an action project advisor and presenter at the New Leadership Program at Boise State University for undergraduate women. Sara enjoys playing music and games with her family and friends, being active outdoors and being involved in the community.

Photo Amanda Padgitt

Amanda Padgitt was admitted to the OPWL Master’s program in Spring 2014, and is working with Quincy Conley. She will be assisting with OPWL 551 E-Learning Content Design, along with working on papers for publication. She is excited for this opportunity to dive deeper into the field. Amanda is new to instructional design, but her M.S. in Cognitive Psychology is helping to aid in this transition. She chose BSU because of the applied projects in the coursework and the interaction with others in performance improvement and instructional design, and she plans to use these skills to break into the field upon graduation. She currently lives in Central Illinois.

Photo Katherine Roberts

Katherine Roberts is a Kentucky native that worked 15 years as an Instructional Designer for Lexmark International in Lexington, Kentucky. Katherine describes herself as one of the all too common “accidental instructional designers” who found themselves in this role completely by mistake. In the Fall of 2011, she applied to the OPWL program at Boise State to pursue a graduate certificate in Instructional Design and a Masters in Organizational Performance and Workplace Learning. She began her classes in the spring of 2012 and describes her experience in the OPWL program as “the best decision I ever made for my career.” In her Instructional Design class, her team helped design training for the Boise Humane Society to help animals find their forever homes and recently, her team completed a Needs Assessment for a company and discovered how to save the organization nearly $850,000 a year. For the new students coming to Boise, Katherine says she understands the challenges that new students face when entering the program. She says that “balancing and organizing work, school, and family time is absolutely necessary to success”.

Katherine was recently published in the July 2015 PerformanceXpress magazine with a featured article entitled Ethical Principles: A Personal Guide. This article was based on the final paper for her Professional Ethics class at Boise. She gives full credit to various class instructors for their words of encouragement and gentle push to submit an article. She states “I probably never would have done it on my own. I never thought what I was writing had value beyond my classes”. She plans to submit additional articles for consideration in the future.

Her future plans include taking advantage of professional development activities such as: attending the ISPI Conferences, writing articles, blogging, and presenting at conferences. Katherine says, “I know this is a tall order, but I want to shoot for the moon and share what I know and keep learning even more. I’m calling this Life 2.0.”

Photo Jennifer Shamsy

Jennifer Shamsy is a commercial airline pilot and adjunct online instructor. During the completion of her Masters in Aeronautical Science through online studies, she developed a keen interest in e-learning. In the years since, she has combined this interest with her love for aviation through the design and development of several online courses as well as instruction of current and future aviation professionals at several institutions of higher education. Enrollment in both the M.S. OPWL degree and Workplace Instructional Design (WIDe) Graduate Certificate programs supports this focus through development of a foundational knowledge in performance improvement, increased proficiency in instructional design, application in real-world scenarios, collaboration with peers through team projects, improved writing and communication skills, and development of written works for publication. Jennifer worked with Dr. Huglin, Dr. Stepich, and Dr. Slater in OPWL 535 and 536 during the Spring 2016 semesters and will be working with Dr. Steve Villachica in the Fall 2016 semester. She looks forward to continuing to work with OPWL faculty and staff as well as further refining her instructional, research, writing, and collaboration skills under faculty guidance as part of the virtual graduate assistantship in the Spring/Fall 2016 semesters.

Comments from Previous Graduate Assistants

DeAnn Allen (FA10 – SP11)

DeAnn feels the GA experience along with the degree will be a catalyst for career change. “My experience as a GA is providing yet another means from which I can learn and build upon,” says Allen. “It will help to ready me for new career endeavors and is providing valuable on-the-job experience.” See DeAnn’s BEM of an IPT graduate assistantship.

Kevin Taylor (FA07 – SP09)

“My experience as a GA was one of the most valuable experiences of my academic career. By working with the faculty, I was able to publish two journal articles and present at an ISPI conference. I also had the opportunity to assist with managing two online classes which gave me valuable experience in the assessment of complex work products. I had the opportunity to work on a variety of research projects which helped me expand my understanding of HPT principles well beyond what I was exposed to in the classroom. Most importantly, the mentorship the faculty provided me helped me grow as a professional and as a person. Now I work as a performance analyst for the U.S. Coast Guard and one of the reasons I was hired for this position is because of my experience as a GA for the IPT program.”

Shelley Berg (FA06 – SP08)

“As a GA, I’ve been able to apply and expand my IPT knowledge/skills in ways that are unique from the experiences I have in my classes and in other workplaces. The primary professor I’ve worked for these past two years, Dr. Chyung, has been an excellent mentor. By collaborating on various projects with her, I’ve had the opportunity to get published and present my work at conferences. My interactions with the faculty and other GA’s makes for a stimulating work environment and exposes me to aspects of IPT I might not otherwise consider. It has been a very rewarding experience.”

Liz Johnsen (FA05 – SP06)

“Hi I’m Liz Johnsen and am in my second year in the IPT program. My undergraduate degree is in psychology. I have worked on research projects with Dr. Huglin, Dr. Marker, and Dr. Cox. As a GA you have the opportunity to be part of new and exciting research in the field of IT/HPT. I highly recommend looking into this opportunity.”

Mary Janes (FA04 – SP06)

“The main tasks I do as a GA are assisting with grading papers for Dr. Cox’s online and on campus classes, housekeeping (keeping track of grades and scores on instruments, etc.), research and literature searches on topics pertaining to learning styles and learning theory, editing documents, building and maintaining class websites, and various other things that come up. My experience so far as a GA has been wonderful. I have had opportunities open up that I would not otherwise have had, including the chance to attend the symposium at Hangyang University in S. Korea in May, 2005. I’ve also had the chance to connect with other GAs and faculty and work on some great projects.”

Allie Smith-Hobbs (FA04 – SP05)

“My experiences as a graduate assistant were memorable. It was an opportunity to work closely with fellow graduate assistants and be immersed in instructional and performance technology. Working with Dr. Yonnie Chyung was delightful; I had the autonomy to conduct research on topics that interested me and work on meaningful projects. I had the opportunity to co-author two research papers, one of which has been revised for publication in the Encyclopedia of Distance Learning. I had the honor of representing Boise State University’s IPT program with Dr. Chyung at the E-Learn Conference in Washington D.C. where we co-presented a paper. In addition, I had the opportunity to co-author and present a paper at the Inter-institutional Symposium at Hanyang University in Seoul, Korea which was the pinnacle of my graduate experience.”

Nathan Niederhauser (FA01 – SP02)

“As a graduate assistant I am constantly exposed to aspects of the IPT field. Not only does this exposure reaffirm the skills and knowledge I am gaining in my coursework, but it also allows me to see IPT applied first hand. I am learning many valuable skills that will be of great asset to me as I enter the professional arena. I enjoy working with the IPT staff members and the other graduate assistants. It is a rewarding experience to work with a group of people who are working hard to provide the best quality educational opportunity for students, as well as helping to define and support the IPT field.”

Kim Stout (FA01 – SP02)

“Being a Graduate Assistant immerses you in constant reinforcement and exploration of concepts and skills learned in the classroom. The faculty, staff and other graduate Assistants offer a supportive network and a positive and dynamic atmosphere in which to learn and study. This assistantship has offered me the chance to roll up my sleeves and really dig in to work on several faculty guided projects related to the concepts and ideas of IPT. Yet it is not one-sided as it has also afforded me opportunities to pursue my own interests more thoroughly with the help of faculty. Graduate Assistantships in the IPT department are both mentally challenging and fun. This experience has opened my eyes to the widest variety of diverse opinions and people as well as guided me into an exciting future. In the immortal words of Mr. T, “I pity the fool who don’t apply to become a G.A. today!”

Brent Williams (FA01 – SP02)

“Hello. When I graduate in 2002, I will have worked for the IPT department as a graduate assistant (GA) for two years. The faculty and staff truly concern themselves with the quality of instruction and interaction that students receive here. I hope that my contributions to the department and program benefit both. Nonetheless, I am sure that would never have gained as deep an insight of and appreciation for this degree without the opportunity to serve as a GA.”

Vicki Stagi (FA00 – SP01)

“The opportunity to work closely with a professor as a graduate assistant was invaluable! I participated in several engaging projects and was constantly exposed to new areas of investigation. The knowledge I gained about interpersonal communications, teamwork, and respect is a testimony to the professional approach of the IPT department.”

Susan Korn (FA00 – SP01)

“My experience as a graduate assistant has proven to be quite rewarding. While it keeps me busy, the IPT graduate assistantship allows me to apply what I have learned about the IPT field and learn more about it in a real life setting. For short term applications, a graduate assistantship gives practical experience usually not obtained in traditional classroom settings. For long term applications, this translates into experience that can be applied in the career field of IPT.”