An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta

 

Department of Education and Science

 

 

Subject Inspection of Technical Graphics and Technical Drawing

 

REPORT

 

Scoil Pól,

Kilfinane,

County Limerick

Roll number: 64130W

 

Date of inspection: 21 March 2007

Date of issue of report:   17 January 2008

 

 

 

Subject inspection report

Subject provision and whole school support

Planning and preparation

Teaching and learning

Assessment

Summary of main findings and recommendations

 

 

 

Report on the Quality of Learning and Teaching in Technical Graphics and Technical Drawing

 

 

Subject inspection report

 

This report has been written following a subject inspection in Scoil Pól Kilfinane, carried out as part of a whole school evaluation. It presents the findings of an evaluation of the quality of teaching and learning in Technical Graphics and Technical Drawing and makes recommendations for the further development of the teaching of this subject in the school. The evaluation was conducted over one day during which the inspector visited classrooms and observed teaching and learning. The inspector interacted with students and the teacher, examined students’ work, and had discussions with the principal and subject teacher. The inspector reviewed school planning documentation and the teachers’ written preparation. Following the evaluation visit, the inspector provided oral feedback on the outcomes of the evaluation to the principal and the subject teacher.

 

Subject provision and whole school support

 

Technical Graphics forms part of the school’s junior cycle curriculum. Technical Drawing is offered as part of the established leaving certificate (LC) curriculum. At present fifth and sixth year students are combined in one class group for senior cycle. As the number of students who choose to study the subject at senior cycle is low this does not pose a significant challenge for the teacher. However, should the number of students choosing to study the subject increase beyond the current class size it is recommended that the school management should establish separate class groups for fifth and sixth year students.

 

Technical Graphics and Technical Drawing are optional subjects for junior and senior cycles respectively. Students entering first year and senior cycle are given an open choice of available optional subjects and option bands based on students’ choices are then developed. This student centred approach to subject choice is to be commended.

 

In choosing optional subjects students receive a good level of support through open days for prospective students in first year and through support and guidance from the school management, year heads, and guidance counsellor and school staff for senior cycle. The guidance counsellor is also expected to be involved in subject choice for junior cycle this year.

 

The majority of students studying Technical Graphics and Technical Drawing in Scoil Pól are boys. The uptake among boys has varied significantly in junior cycle in recent years. Few girls choose to study the subject in junior cycle leading to few, if any, choosing to study the subject for senior cycle. The uptake for senior cycle follows a cyclical pattern of a very small number of students one year followed by a good proportion the following year. It is recommended that the school management should ascertain why so few students choose to study the subject on alternate years and also work towards addressing the gender imbalance in uptake.

 

There is an appropriate time allocation for Technical Graphics and Technical Drawing in junior and senior cycle.

 

There is one Technical Graphics and Technical Drawing room in the school. This room is also used to teach Materials Technology Wood and Construction Studies. There are no stools and students must stand throughout each drawing lesson. Students use drawing boards that are propped at an angle with hand tools. The teacher has an overhead projector and a chalkboard. There is also a small storeroom in the classroom that is used as a computer room. The teacher of the subject is currently assessing how the Department of Education and Science grant aided information and communication technologies (ICT) funding for the technology subjects might be integrated into the room. Given the available space it is recommended that the subject department teachers in consultation with the school principal should meet to discuss and plan for the overall accommodation of the ICT for the technology subjects in the school. It is further recommended that the drawing room should be relocated to a general-purposes classroom. This will help to improve the teaching and learning environment for the teacher and students.

 

The school management encourages and facilitates staff to attend continuous professional development (CPD) courses. The Technical Graphics and Technical Drawing teacher is currently attending CPD courses being provided by the Technology Subjects Support Service (T4). In addition the in-school management organises CPD during staff days.

 

Planning and preparation

 

There are two teachers of Technical Graphics and Technical drawing in Scoil Pól. One teacher however takes the majority of classes. The main subject teacher chairs all subject department meetings. Subject meetings are held at the beginning of each year and on a regular basis throughout the school year. The initial meeting at the start of the school year is used to plan an agreed long-term scheme of work for each year group and the meetings held throughout the year are used to discuss issues of relevance to the subject as the need arises. It is recommended that the subject teachers should develop a number of key curriculum development priorities for the future of the subject in the school. It is suggested that these would provide a clear focus for meetings held throughout the year. Areas for consideration should include: classroom accommodation, promotion and subject uptake and planning for the introduction of ICT. It is further suggested that action plans for these development priorities should be included in the subject plan and the school plan where appropriate.

 

The subject plan for Technical Graphics and Technical Drawing includes long-term schemes of work for each year group that provide a clear description of the topic areas to be covered. These are supported by short-term schemes of work which detail the topic areas covered each week for all year groups. It is recommended that short-term schemes of work should be associated with individual class groups and that the subject teachers should record student progress in each topic and should record those areas that students are having most difficulty understanding. This will assist in recording student progress in the subject throughout junior and senior cycle and will also help to give greater focus to revision lessons throughout and at the end of each term.  It is further recommended that the short-term weekly schemes of work should list the drawings completed with students and the geometric principles covered. It is suggested that a common set of drawings for the introduction of each topic supported with a list of supplementary drawing questions would further enhance the quality of teaching and learning of Technical Graphics and Technical Drawing in the school.

 

The Technical Graphics and Technical Drawing teachers are informed of students with special educational needs and those requiring learning support at the start of each year. This is to be commended as very good practice as it allows teachers to plan and prepare for these students in each class.

 

Individual subject planning was generally in line with the syllabus and curriculum requirements. In the senior cycle lessons observed the short-term schemes of work were generally followed by the teacher. However some topic areas were not listed in the scheme of work. It is recommended that the subject teachers review the long-term scheme of work for senior cycle to ensure that the full syllabus is covered.

 

There was evidence of individual planning and preparation for the lessons observed. Teachers have identified and developed a number of resources for the teaching of the subject and are continually planning for their introduction into lessons. These include a number of solid models and overhead transparencies for a number of topic areas.

 

Teaching and learning

 

All lessons observed had a clear learning purpose and in all instances this was shared with students at the start of each lesson. All lessons observed were clearly structured. This was particularly evident in the combined fifth and sixth year class group. The teacher divided the lesson into a number of separate sessions to introduce new subject matter to each year group. While students were engaged in completing drawings the teacher was then able to move between year groups to offer guidance and support. In all lessons observed the content and pace were appropriate to the class group, the subject matter and to the time available. It is suggested however that the Technical Graphics and Drawing teachers should give consideration to completing drawings themselves to ensure the desired outcome is achieved as evidenced in the lesson on oblique planes. This will also provide teachers with the opportunity to demonstrate best practice in relation to draughtsmanship and page layout.

 

A range of appropriate and varied teaching methodologies was employed in the lessons observed. In all lessons observed the chalkboard was used to construct drawing principles and complete drawing problems to assist student understanding of the subject matter. In some instances the teacher gathered students around a drawing sheet to fulfill the same objective. Solid models and overhead transparencies were also used to assist students in visualising geometric principles and constructions. In all instances subject matter was built up in incremental steps through teacher- led instruction. It is recommended that students should be encouraged to suggest the next step in the construction of drawings and to outline why such steps are taken on a more regular basis. This will provide students with a greater understanding of the subject matter and it also encourages independent thinking and learning. In some lessons observed students where provided with dimensions for the set-up of drawings orally. This led to a number of students making mistakes; it is recommended that all dimensions should be provided on the board; on overhead transparencies or that drawings should be taken from students textbooks.

 

Classroom management was effective and was conducive to a safe, orderly and participative learning environment. Classroom discipline was supported by constant movement around the classroom to ensure students were on task and engaged in lesson activities. Teacher movement around the room also afforded teachers the opportunity to assess student understanding of the topic.

 

Teacher-student interactions were purposeful and mutually respectful. In all instances student responses were affirmed. There was little evidence of a stimulating environment for teaching and learning. It is recommended that student drawings and posters should be put on display around the classroom. It suggested that students could be encouraged to develop large posters of key geometric principles and constructions.

 

In the lessons observed students demonstrated a willingness to co-operate with their teacher in their learning and engaged in all classroom activities and discussions. In all lessons observed students were active in their learning through the completion of drawings. In most lessons observed students’ questioning and responses to questions and completion of drawings reflected a good quality of understanding.

 

In most lessons observed students’ portfolio work indicated an appropriate level of learning. In some instances portfolios were incomplete with missing drawings and incomplete drawings. In some instances this was noted by the teacher in portfolios. It is recommended that portfolios should be monitored on a more regular basis and constructive feedback should be provided to all students. Each student should be provided with a list of drawings required for each topic and that the quality of portfolio work should account for a percentage of marks awarded for class and end -of-term tests.

 

Assessment

 

A range of assessment modes is regularly used to assess student competence and progress. These include questioning in class, monitoring of student portfolios and setting homework and class tests throughout the year.  Teachers continually monitor student progress and written reports are regularly sent to all parents.

 

Feedback on assessment is used to assist students to reflect on their learning. In most instances this is done through oral feedback provided to students when completing drawings in class, upon the completion of drawings and through the correction of homework.  In addition drawing sheets are checked and initialed on a regular basis. It is recommended that constructive and formative feedback should be provided to students in all class groups on a regular basis through the evaluation of student portfolios. It is suggested that portfolios should be initialed and dated, drawings should be corrected and key mistakes highlighted. This will enable teachers to evaluate and modify their teaching strategies where appropriate and will also help to diagnose and address individual and class learning needs.

 

The level and frequency of homework assigned to students varies considerably across year groups.  Students are generally asked to read a section of a textbook or to consider how they might solve a drawing problem. In some instances the purpose of this homework is to prepare for the next lesson and in other instances it is to consolidate learning in class. Homework is corrected at the start of each lesson through oral questioning. This approach to homework does not allow the teacher to assess every student’s understanding of the subject. It is recommended that students should be asked to complete technical drawings for homework. This will allow the teacher to assess student understanding and to diagnose and address individual and class learning needs. It is further recommended that first and second year students should be given a drawing exercise at least once per week and all other year groups should be given a drawing exercise at least twice per week.

Summary of main findings and recommendations

 

The following are the main strengths identified in the evaluation:

 

·         There is an open choice of subjects for junior and senior cycle students.

·         There is an appropriate time allocation for Technical Graphics and Technical Drawing in junior and senior cycle.

·         Subject meetings are held on a regular basis throughout the school year.

·         The subject plan for Technical Graphics and Technical Drawing includes long-term schemes of work for each year group that provide a clear description of the topic areas to be covered.

·         All lessons observed had a clear learning purpose and in all instances this was shared with students at the start of each lesson.

·         A range of appropriate and varied teaching methodologies was employed in the lessons observed. Very good use of the chalkboard was observed to support student understanding.

·         Classroom management was effective and was conducive to a safe, orderly and participative learning environment.

·         In the lessons observed students demonstrated a willingness to co-operate with their teacher in their learning and engaged in all classroom activities and discussions.

·         A range of assessment modes is regularly used to assess student competence and progress.

 

 

As a means of building on these strengths and to address areas for development, the following key recommendations are made:

 

·         Should the numbers of students choosing to study the subject at senior cycle increase beyond current class sizes the school management should establish separate class groups for fifth and sixth year students.

·         The subject department teachers and the school principal should meet to discuss and plan for the overall accommodation of the ICT for the technology subjects in the school.

·         The drawing room should be relocated to a general-purposes classroom.

·         Portfolios should be monitored on a more regular basis.

·         Students should be encouraged to suggest the next step in the construction of drawings and to outline why such steps are taken on a more regular basis.

·         Constructive and formative feedback should be provided to students in all class groups on a regular basis through the evaluation of student portfolios.

·         The current approach to homework should be revised and each class group should be given drawing exercises on a regular basis each week.

 

Post-evaluation meetings were held with the teacher of Technical Graphics and Technical Drawing and with the principal at the conclusion of the evaluation when the draft findings and recommendations of the evaluation were presented and discussed.