Dr. Breanne Litts Recognized As ITLS Undergraduate Research Mentor of the Year and Graduate Faculty Mentor of the Year
Dr. Breanne Litts was selected as the Undergraduate Research Mentor of the Year as well as the Graduate Faculty Mentor of the Year for the 2017-2018 academic school year. These awards were bestowed by the Instructional Technology and Learning Sciences (ITLS) Department at Utah State.
As a mentor, Dr. Litts has supported graduates such as Whitney Lewis and Nathan Blaylock. She has also supported undergraduates Chase Mortensen, Kamaehu Matthias, and Daniel Robinson. Lewis (M.S) and Blaylock (M.A.) navigated the final stages of their master's degree with the support of Dr. Litts and Mortensen has received the URCO grant under Dr. Litts' supervision. Her students have had the opportunity to help facilitate workshops, author papers and proposals, and travel to academic conferences.
Here are some of the several anonymous comments made by the students and faculty who nominated her for these awards:
"I have not only learned research skills while working in the Learn Explore Design Lab under Dr. Litts, but have also had the opportunity to take on other challenges."
"She does a great job at making sure I am mentally healthy while still challenging me to be the best I can."
"She has initiated open support groups for students and developed a great community of students who are enthusiastic about participating in research and development."
"She is incredibly supportive of her students. She is enthusiastic in her teaching and exploration of new ideas. She is very generous with her time and support."
"Breanne is an amazing advisor who puts the goals of her students first. She is always available to her students and goes out of her way to find opportunities that align with her students’ goals."
As a graduate student doing peace education research in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Litts became interested in educational technology, learning sciences, and design. Belfast is a segregated area with a history of bombing. Litts saw an opportunity to use technology to potentially improve the situation. "I wanted to think more about how to integrate technologies and making in learning contexts to bring people together, especially how (re)telling our stories and histories with technology can facilitate productive collaborations," she told the CIRCL Center last year. Her first project along that vein was using a mobile app called ARIS to retell local historical stories.
Dr. Litts came to Utah State after completing a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania and her doctorate at University of Wisconsin-Madison. As both a postdoc and a graduate student she received invaluable mentorship, which cultivated her belief that mentorship is an important part of her job. “It’s important to look at what personal experiences students bring to the table and what professional experiences they need,” she said.
"I enjoy working with students who don't usually make a lot of sense in the traditional model," Dr. Litts explained. Examples she gave may include someone who loves computer science and art, dance and technology, or English and science education. "The winding path is a lot more interesting and strengthens students in general." Dr. Litts had incredible things to say about each of the students she works with.
Dr. Litts' research focuses on making, designing, and technology in learning environments. According to her faculty biography, "Her scholarly interests combine identity, learning, design, and technology, particularly from a learning sciences perspective." To read her full biography or to find out how to connect with her, see her faculty page on the ITLS website.