An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta
Department of Education and Science
Subject Inspection of
Technical Graphics and Technical Drawing
North Circular Road,
Roll number: 64201T
Date of inspection: 29 November 2006
Date of issue of report: 22 February 2007
Report on the Quality of Learning and Teaching in Technical Graphics and Technical Drawing
This report has been written following a subject inspection in Ardscoil Rís. 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 teachers, examined students’ work, and had discussions with the teachers. The inspector reviewed school planning documentation and teachers’ written preparation. Following the evaluation visit, the inspector provided oral feedback on the outcomes of the evaluation to the principal and subject teachers. The board of management of the school was given an opportunity to comment on the findings and recommendations of the report; the board chose to accept the report without response.
Technical Graphics (TG) forms part of a first year taster programme, which also includes Art and Music, and is offered as an optional subject for Junior Certificate from second year onwards in this all-boys voluntary secondary Christian Brothers school. Technical Drawing (TD) is offered as part of an open choice of optional subject to students entering fifth year and is then placed in two of the school's three optional subject bands in an effort to facilitate students' needs and interests. Senior-cycle students currently study TD as part of the Established Leaving Certificate (LC) and, when the school’s new building programme is completed, it is proposed that TD will also be offered as one of a combination of optional subjects forming a Vocational Subject Grouping (VSG) for the Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme (LCVP). Transition Year (TY) students also study a related module called 'shaping space' as part of their programme. TG and TD are the only technology subjects currently available in this all-boys school and there is strong junior cycle and senior cycle take-up. There are plans to introduce a range of technology subjects to coincide with the completion of a technology suite which forms part of a planned building programme for the school.
Junior-cycle and senior-cycle timetable allocation to TG and TD respectively is appropriate and consists of a mixture of double and single class periods. Exposure for all first year students to TG ensures that subject option choice for second year is based on experience of the subject and students who opt to take TG for the remainder of junior cycle are very highly motivated. Exposure to the drawing module in TY ensures continuity with the subject for those who have studied TG for Junior Certificate and wish to take TD in senior cycle, re-introduces those who have experienced TG in first year to the subject, and ensures that all students entering fifth year are in a position to make an informed choice in respect of TD.
All TG/TD teachers are involved in the delivery of the junior cycle TG, TY, and senior-cycle TD programmes to the highest level and this arrangement ensures that their skills, knowledge and interests are being maintained. This arrangement is commended.
The school has two TG/TD rooms. Both rooms are suitably equipped, maintained and decorated; one room is equipped with drawing benches and other with woodwork benches, reflecting the original intention to use it as a specialist Materials Technology (Wood) (MTW) room. As part of the school's planned building programme it is intended to relocate TG/TD activities from the room currently equipped with drawing benches to a larger classroom in the current building and refurbish the room containing the MTW benches, enabling the expected information and communication technology (ICT) equipment associated with the new DCG programme to be accommodated there.
All TG/TD teachers in Ardscoil Rís are currently participating in the professional development programme being provided by the technology subjects support service (T4). This in-service programme is related to the implementation of the new Leaving Certificate Design and Communication Graphics (DCG) programme and their participation and facilitation by the school's management is commended.
An open night for incoming students is organised each year and TG/TD lessons are scheduled during the visit of prospective students and parents. The school's senior management, career guidance teacher and subject teachers assist students and their parents at times when important subject choices are being made. This level of involvement is commended.
Ardscoil Rís has a TG/TD subject department as part of its school development planning structures and the co-ordination of this subject department is rotated among the subject teachers. The co-ordinator is responsible, among other things, for the dissemination of official documentation related to the subjects. Formal subject department meetings are facilitated as part of the whole-school planning process and formal records of these meetings are kept. These practices are commended.
A very comprehensive subject plan for TG and TD has been collaboratively developed by teachers in Ardscoil Rís. This plan contains, among other things, the TG and TD syllabus documents, short-term programmes of work in TG and TD in line with syllabus requirements for every year group, the TY drawing programme, teaching methodologies, selection and use of resources to support teaching, timetabling arrangements for the subject, a section on the school's optional subject structure, arrangements for student grouping, arrangements for students with special educational needs, arrangements for liaising with the school's learning support team, cross-curricular activities, inclusion measures, health and safety provision, assessment strategies, homework practices, and a section on student affirmation. The first year taster and TY programmes are also regularly reviewed. The development and implementation of this TG/TD plan is highly commended.
All TG/TD class groups are of mixed ability and students sit State examinations at the level appropriate to their abilities. Teachers' expectations and students' enthusiasm and motivation are very high and students are encouraged to take the higher level papers in State examinations.
Teachers and students have access to ICT, linked to the internet, in the school's two TG/TD rooms and to the school's other ICT facilities. However, only a very limited version of drawing-related software is currently available in one TG/TD room and this is used for demonstration purposes with Junior Certificate classes. This situation will be addressed when arrangements to deliver the new DCG programme are put in place and discussions on how and where this provision for ICT might be accommodated have already taken place in the school. This long-term planning is commended.
Teachers have developed a wide range of TG/TD resources independently and collaboratively and these are readily accessible in the school. An annual budget is made available for the acquisition of TG/TD resources and procedures for acquiring and accessing further resources are also in place. Second and third year junior-cycle students use a textbook as a classroom and homework resource but no particular textbook is prescribed or used with senior-cycle students. The school does not currently have a library but one is planned and it is recommended that planning for the inclusion of a TG/TD-related section in the proposed library should begin as soon as possible.
All lessons were suitable for the time of year, for the class groups visited, and for students' differentiated needs in all lessons evaluated in Ardscoil Rís. An ordered learning environment, where the school's behaviour code was sensitively implemented and where all learning activities were well-organised and managed, was created and activities were designed to motivate and challenge all students. Lessons were well-paced and coherent, had clear aims and objectives, and were structured to ensure appropriate progression through the syllabuses. Homework had been given during previous lessons and was given at the end of lessons evaluated and this ensured continuity with previous and future lessons. These practices are commended.
Teachers' used methodologies that were appropriate in terms of students' abilities, needs, and interests and a range of strategies was used. Good drawing practices and terminology associated with TG and TD were continually demonstrated and used during lessons. These practices are commended.
Teachers used chalkboards, white boards, and overhead projectors very effectively to focus students' attention and to support their learning. Multiple presentations using all these pieces of equipment were used and teachers in Ardscoil Rís are particularly commended for their presentation drawing and freehand drawing skills on white boards. Teachers' demonstrations of drawing processes and skills were of a very high standard and all diagrams were constructed incrementally, effectively scaffolding the development of students' learning. Teachers demonstrated processes, often in an innovative manner, and skills to whole class groups, smaller groupings, and to individual students. Teachers also directed demonstrations by students to their peers using questioning to elicit appropriate instructions from the class to allow for the completion or advancement of the construction of a diagram. This is commended as excellent practice. Teachers also spoke about the construction of drawings they had just demonstrated as students worked on task after the initial presentation. This allowed students to work on task while receiving further input from teachers. This practice further enhanced teaching and learning in the TG and TD classrooms and is also commended.
Teachers used directed and global questioning to revise previously covered material, to introduce new topics, to direct students' attention, and to summarise at the end of lessons. This practice is commended.
Stimulating materials were used effectively during TG and TD lessons and the drawing rooms were decorated with examples of junior-cycle and senior-cycle drawings, geometric models, and charts. In addition to a variety of presentation techniques used by teachers, charts related to aspects of topics being dealt with in lessons being evaluated were also used. Many of these charts showed three-dimensional drawings of concepts that are often difficult for students to comprehend. By separating the elements of solutions to TG and TD problems in this manner the teachers are teaching more effectively, because they are ensuring that more effective learning is taking place. Development of students' learning from three-dimensional models to their abstract representation in two-dimensions was also being promoted. These practices are highly commended.
The TG and TD teachers moved around the classrooms as students worked on tasks during lessons, engaged with individual students and assessed their progress in the completion of these tasks. This allowed teachers to offer assistance to individual students when it was required and also ensured that students remained engaged with planned activities. This practice is commended.
Teachers frequently referred to local examples of topics covered during lessons and continually referred to useful examination strategies. Summary charts highlighting areas of the TG and TD syllabuses covered to date, revised, and to be covered were displayed prominently in both TG/TD classrooms and these acted as immediate visual aids for both students and teachers. These practices are commended.
The TG/TD classrooms were very well organised and classroom routines were evident during all lessons evaluated. Classroom routines during activity-based TG and TD lessons ensure appropriate management of the learning environment and such practices are highly commended.
Students' answering of teachers' questions and their ability to ask relevant questions during lessons demonstrated the quality of their understanding of lesson topics. They also displayed a range of levels of draughting skills during their work on lesson tasks. Students' drawings were of a high standard while remaining consistent with the range of abilities in different class groups.
Students' portfolios were very well organised with drawings stored in sections relating to particular topics. Drawings displayed appropriate coverage of syllabus content and teachers' affirming comments on students’ work, together comments on issues that needed to be addressed in future, were evident. Both problem-solving and quality draughtmanship were being promoted. These practices are commended and it is recommended that the dual emphasis on problem-solving and quality draughtmanship should continue in an effort to further enhance existing high standards in the school. It is suggested that the most modern drawing equipment available should be used in promoting excellent draughtmanship.
Students engaged enthusiastically in lesson activities and their contributions were appropriately affirmed. This encouraged an atmosphere where students' contributions were welcomed and there was an excellent teacher student rapport. Students displayed an understanding of lesson concepts, they were highly motivated, and the classroom atmosphere created during all lessons was conducive to learning. Examples of students working independently and collaboratively were evident and students communicated using language and terminology that was appropriate for TG and TD. This is commended.
A range of assessment modes directly related to TG and TD curriculum objectives was employed during the inspection. Drawn class work is routinely assessed, commented on and graded. Homework is regularly assigned to all class groups and a substantial piece of homework is assigned to examination classes every month. This usually requires the completion of a past examination paper. Class tests are organised upon completion of topics. These practices are commended.
House examinations are organised at Christmas and end of year for first, second and fifth year students and examination classes have a Christmas and mock examination during the second term. TY students have end of module assessments and must produce a folder with a specified number of completed drawings which is awarded a substantial percentage of the overall assessment marks for the module. Concurrent testing in TG and TD is used whenever possible. These practices are commended.
Assessment outcomes are systematically recorded and used to identify trends in students' achievement, to address the needs of individual learners, and to inform future teaching strategies to be adopted. These practices are commended.
Students' achievements in TG and TD are communicated to parents using students' journals and school reports and teachers are encouraged to contact parents directly when and as required to discuss a students' progress in the subjects. These communication practices are commended.
Students displayed a high level of interest in and enthusiasm for TG and TD during the inspection and their levels of TG and TD knowledge and drafting skills relative to age, ability, and class level were of a high standard. This is commended.
The following are the main strengths identified in the evaluation:
As a means of building on these strengths and to address areas for development, the following key recommendations are made:
Post-evaluation meetings were held with the teachers 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.