How FHSU Significantly Improved Their Poster Competitions Process Using InfoReady
Updated: Sep 17, 2021
“Our annual poster competition used to be a logistical nightmare, requiring the time and resources of numerous committee members and my one-person office. Now, with InfoReady, we’re able to collect entries through a standardized submission process, offer online judging, and automatically report on participation details. Judges love it, submissions are of a higher quality, and we’re saving significant resources – I am able to manage the poster submission and review process entirely on my own.”
Leslie Paige, MS, EdS
Director, Office of Scholarship and Sponsored Project
Fort Hays State University
For many years at Fort Hays State University (FHSU), the poster competition at the annual Scholarly and Creative Activities Day (SACAD) felt like an all-consuming undertaking to set up and manage. Leslie Paige, Director of the Office of Scholarship and Sponsored Projects at FHSU, knew there had to be a more effective and more efficient way to manage the poster competition. Their existing process took too much time and energy from the faculty members on the committee sponsoring the event. Furthermore, assigning the judges and managing their feedback was cumbersome and caused delays in announcing the award decisions.
Leslie had a “light bulb” moment after FHSU started using InfoReady for managing internal funding programs when she realized that FHSU could use this system to manage many different types of programs, including the annual poster competitions.
FHSU had key items they wanted to address. They needed a system that could accommodate their large online student population (>50%), as well as facilitate multi-round feedback from 50-60 reviewers with diverse backgrounds (e.g., current and retired faculty and community members). Additionally, FHSU gives out 18 different awards and wanted the ability to announce the winners the same day.
They got their feet wet by processing a small number of posters through InfoReady, which enabled Leslie to reevaluate her needs and streamline the process. After refining the process, FHSU saw a reduction in email churn with fewer people and less time needed to manage the poster competition.
As a result, Leslie reduced the process to just a few simple steps:
1. Students and faculty fill out the application form in InfoReady and include
a PDF of the poster.
2. All applications are processed and reviewed in the system.
3. Each application is reviewed by at least two judges.
4. After all scores are submitted, the admins easily transfer the data into a database.
Additional Benefits FHSU has realized since implementing InfoReady
The benefits from the transformation have been felt in many ways. Leslie can manage the process by herself now when it used to take 4-5 people. The stress level has also dropped dramatically because the streamlined process has minimized any hiccups and procedural issues. The new process with InfoReady has allowed FHSU to scale up the poster competition with little additional effort and given Leslie time to promote the program. The visibility and recognition of the poster competition have increased and additional colleges and departments, such as Business, Art and Music, are now participating. Last year FHSU had a record 132 posters! The changes have also benefitted poster reviewers, who now have access to submit reviews online at any time instead of spending an entire day running around with clipboards. Leslie likes the online reviews because she can quickly identify scoring discrepancies and determine who should (and shouldn’t) be invited to judge posters in subsequent years. Additionally, award certificates, press releases, and other documents can be prepared ahead of time and are available on the day of the event.
Leslie’s Tips for others… before launching a Poster Competition:
1. Know Your Process - Understand your process and your goals before launching the competition. This will help you take full advantage of features in InfoReady to optimize your process and take it to the next level.
2. Communicate Explicit Instructions - Provide clear and up to date instructions within the system for both applicants and judges, including establishing clear deadlines. This will reduce the number of questions you receive, especially near the deadline (when most questions are asked).
3. Scoring Rubrics for Multiple Disciplines – The system allows you to set up separate routing steps with distinct scoring rubrics. This has allowed FHSU to evaluate posters from different groups of disciplines (e.g. STEM and Humanities) with tailored questions and scoring rubrics.
4. Practice Run - Have people on your team submit test applications and test reviews. This will help you ensure that everything is running appropriately.
5. Schedule Sufficient Time - Allow yourself enough time to manage the review process, resolve issues and prepare checks and certificates. Leslie typically requires reviews to be completed 2 weeks before the event, which allows her to determine the winning posters based on the results, and prepare certificates, press releases and related documents well in advance. As a result, she is able to focus most of her time during the days leading up to the event with other “last minute” logistics associated with a campus-wide celebration of scholarship and creative activities.
Fort Hays State University Scholarly and Creative Activities Day (SACAD) celebrates the scholarly, research & creative activities of Fort Hays State University students and faculty. Named in honor of the late Dr. John Heinrichs, who was a strong advocate for research at Fort Hays State University.