Having grown up a beneficiary of free school meals in conflict-torn Northern Ireland, Joy Porter has always had a keen sense of how vitally transformative education can be. A series of scholarships allowed her to begin a teaching career at the University of Nottingham as a young postdoctoral researcher.
From the outset, she was filled with ideas about how Arts teaching could better gel with what students needed in order to succeed post-degree. “Employability” was not a familiar buzz-word in the mid-1990s, but it mattered a great deal to the students at the teaching-intensive university where Joy gained her first full-time job. She began to host conferences and publish on the issue and went on to build employability innovations into changes she inaugurated as Associate Dean and Learning and Teaching Chair at Swansea University.
Impact of work
As Employability Lead at the University of Hull, she attracted two project grants that transformed employment opportunities for female students and students from non-traditional and diverse educational backgrounds. They contributed to the institution winning the 2017 AGCAS (Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services) Award for Excellence in Employability.
She first re-orientated her institution’s employability effort through creating 36 Arts internships and embedding ongoing relationships for students with 80 SMEs (small & medium-sized enterprises). Inspired by critical reading of pedagogic research, the idea continues to have life-changing student impacts, has transformed the practice of colleagues and generated a permanent paid Arts internship scheme.
The second project achieved national impact and links to work that led to the success of a Hull PhD student within the AHRC “New Generation Thinkers” scheme in collaboration with BBC Radio 3. It gives PG students media training, generates a professionally-edited student employability asset, and applies research on multi-modality in assessment to fundamentally improve learning outcomes.
Plans for the future
Developing and disseminating her teaching innovations in the United States has been a highlight of Joy’s teaching career. Her exchange of practice with colleagues at Dartmouth, New Hampshire via a competitively-awarded 2015 Fulbright Scholarship expanded and internationalised her thinking. It also led to further faculty exchange from Dartmouth to Hull under the auspices of a 2018 British Academy Visiting Fellowship. In the future, Joy will explore ways to impact at a policy level so as to further internationalize teaching practice and bring research and teaching closer together. She is especially interested bringing U.S. project-based learning methodologies to the U.K.
Professor of Indigenous History
University of Hull