• Feature Spotlight: Reviewing

    When we designed our centralized reviewing interface, our goal was to help both reviewers and administrators make the best awarding decisions possible, as quickly as possible. So administrators can take advantage of the customization options they need, while reviewers benefit from a simple, streamlined, and easy-to-use interface.

    A paper-based review process just can’t compete with the time savings, accuracy, flexibility, and insights offered by AwardSpring’s online review process. Here are just a few of the ways that AwardSpring’s reviewing features improve upon a paper-based process:

    Bias Elimination & Time Savings

    Before the review cycle begins, administrators can hide certain pieces of student information from reviewers, like name, email address, and financial details, to eliminate any potential bias. Administrators can also hide select application responses from reviewers. We recommend hiding any responses that don’t directly pertain to your scorecards; that way, your reviewers won’t waste any time reading responses that won’t impact their evaluation.

    Personalized Review Methods 

    The AwardSpring platform offers you two different ways to conduct reviews: a global review or a scholarship-specific review. With global review, each applicant is considered individually using the same scorecards and review committee members across all scholarships. A scholarship-specific review requires reviewers to assess every candidate for a given scholarship individually. This review style allows for more fine-tuning of your process, including create different scorecards and assigning unique review committees for each scholarship, but it can take longer to complete.

    If you have lots of scholarships, you’ll save quite a bit of time using global review. That’s because each student application will go through just one review cycle, no matter how many scholarships the student is eligible for. On the other hand, a scholarship-specific review is essential for those scholarships with that need a specific review committee or have unique qualifications. Luckily, you can get the best of both worlds: use global review for those scholarships that can share the same scorecard and review committee, and then conduct a scholarships-specific review of the rest of your scholarships.

    Simple, Adaptable Scorecards

    Our online score cards are designed to be flexible, easy-to-use translations of your old paper rubric. Using simple labels eliminates scrolling for reviewers, which can save a surprising amount of time. If you need to include more context or explanation of your scorecard methodology, we recommend that you provide it in a separate document to keep the reviewing experience as simple as possible.

    Flexible Reviewer Assignments

    Choose your assignment methodology - random, all, or manual - with a single click in AwardSpring. If you have more than 50 applicants, or lots of reviewers, we recommend assigning reviewers randomly. Small review team? Choose “all” so that all reviewers will see all of the applications. And if you have a scholarship that requires a specific review team, you can always select “manual” to make your assignments on a per-reviewer basis.

    Quick & Seamless Reviewing Experience

    Every detail of the AwardSpring reviewing experience was designed to help reviewers work quickly, accurately, and without unnecessary distractions. As your reviewers make their way through each application, their work is saved automatically, so there’s no chance of losing a single score. Navigation buttons at the top and bottom of the page make it easy to move on to the next application. And if a reviewer wants to take notes to explain a score, remind herself about something, or share an idea with the administrator, she can do so right in the scorecard - and the note will be kept private from everyone except the author and the administrator.

    Insightful Awarding & Denying

    Designed to help administrators make faster decisions, AwardSpring’s Award & Deny screen gives you deep insights into your applicant pool without a lot of complication. Pre-filter your applicant list for secondary preferences, which can help you please donors or make tie-breaker decisions. Once reviewer scores are in, your applicant list will automatically re-sort to bring the highest scored students to the top. Hover over a student’s overall score to see just how many individual scores are in from reviewers, or click on a student’s name to see all of the individual scores. The wealth of information available at the Award & Deny stage will help you - and your donors - feel confident about your awarding decisions.

    If you or your review team ever have questions about how to optimize your customized AwardSpring platform for the best reviewing experience, or if you’d like a refresher training course, just send us a note at support@awardspring.com.

  • Remote Work Communication Tips

    Since AwardSpring makes it possible to manage scholarships and review applications from anywhere, many users decide to restructure their workflow to include remote work. Whether that means distributing responsibilities across several campuses, working with remote reviewers, or working from home occasionally yourself, there are a few important adjustments that should be made to include all team members, regardless of work location. Here at AwardSpring, we support a remote work environment for many of our staff, so we have some tried-and-true methods for maintaining clear communication without face-to-face contact. Read on for our advice, and enjoy the freedom that remote work offers you and your staff!

    - Define responsibilities. The key to successful remote collaborations is to assign each team member clear responsibilities. In AwardSpring, grouping remote departments together under department administrators can help you manage this process better. Since department administrators are limited to managing only those scholarships in their department, it’s one way to define duties.

    - Make expectations clear. Once your team has divvied up tasks, you can create guidelines around timing, task milestones, measurable results, and anything else that’s important to your team. Make sure that everyone understands how and when they’ll know when it’s their turn to take action. Will there be someone responsible for tracking project progress, or are you using a project management tool? Creating a clear process will help everyone play his or her role at the right time.

    - Choose a primary communication method. While your team may use a variety of formal and informal communication tools, such as instant messaging, email, phone calls, video chats, and texts, selecting one as your primary vehicle for important project-related messages will help ensure that no messages are missed. A project management tool like Basecamp is ideal for managing project-related communications.

    - Communicate regularly. Structured meetings - daily and weekly - can help identify problems early, provide opportunities for collaboration or advice, and keep team members informed about progress. But don’t forget about impromptu check-ins; since you won’t bump into remote workers in the hallways, it’s important to make an effort to connect with coworkers occasionally to build and maintain a friendly relationship.

  • The Secrets to Keeping Reviewers on Task

    Managing the personalities, busy schedules, and complexities of human reviewers can be challenging, even if your scholarship management software has streamlined much of the review process. Through the years, we’ve identified a few simple, strategic organizational tactics that will keep reviewers focused and on task, easing frustrations for everybody. Read on for a collection of strategies you can employ before and during reviews to make this year’s review process seamless and stress-free!

    Before Your Review Process Begins

    - Pre-deny your least qualified applicants to reduce the number of applications that need to be reviewed. For example, if you have a scholarship with a 2.5 GPA requirement and you have many applicants with much higher GPAs, you can pre-deny applicants on the lower end of the GPA threshold. To take this a step further, we recommend observing your qualifications, applicants, and awarded students over a couple of years to see if you can tighten up qualifications well before the application period even starts.

    - Determine your assignment methodology. Decide how many reviewers you need and how many reviews each application should have. We recommend giving each application two initial reviews, with the option for a third review if there’s high variation between the first two scores.

    - Create a simple, easy-to-use rubric. Use as few scorecards as possible (3-5 is ideal) and keep possible scores between 1-10 points. Managing the complexity of your scoring rubric will make it easier for each reviewer to evaluate applications accurately, uniformly, and quickly.

    - Suppress unnecessary information from reviewers. There’s no need to bog down your reviewers with any application questions that aren’t directly related to your scorecards. In AwardSpring, you can suppress as many questions as needed so that reviewers can focus only on those responses that need to be scored.

    During Your Review Process

    - Communicate a clear deadline to your reviewers, even if it’s not truly critical. An unambiguous timeline will give you cover to check in with reviewers periodically, which may be all it takes to get everything done on time.

    - Host a group kickoff to communicate expectations, answer questions, and troubleshoot. It may be challenging or even impossible to regularly gather all reviewers at the same time, but a single meeting can give your reviewers the confidence to work independently afterward. (And that’s one of the perks of using AwardSpring - your reviewers can work from anywhere, on any device they choose!)

    - Send reminder emails. Send messages to the entire review team or just to individual reviewers to keep them on track. We recommend setting up consistent communications throughout the review period to ensure that important tasks remain top of mind for everybody involved.

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