An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta
Department of Education and Science
Subject Inspection of Technical Graphics and Technical Drawing/Design and Communication Graphics
Christian Brothers College,
Monkstown Park, Dun Laoghaire
Roll number: 60180R
Date of issue of report: 21 February 2008
Report on the Quality of Learning and Teaching in Technical Graphics and Technical Drawing/Design and Communication Graphics
This report has been written following a subject inspection in Christian Brothers College, Monkstown Park, Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin. It presents the findings of an evaluation of the quality of teaching and learning in Technical Graphics (TG) and Technical Drawing (TD)/Design and Communication Graphics (DCG) and makes recommendations for the further development of the teaching of these subjects 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 teacher. The inspector reviewed school planning documentation and teacher’s written preparation. Following the evaluation visit, the inspector provided oral feedback on the outcomes of the evaluation to the principal and subject teacher. The board of management was given an opportunity to comment in writing on the findings and recommendations of the report; a response was not received from the board
Technical Graphics and Technical Drawing/Design and Communication Graphics are optional subjects for junior and senior cycle respectively. In choosing optional subjects, students receive a good level of support. At junior cycle students partake in an ‘observation cycle’ where they sample all optional subjects on a modular basis until January of first year. This is supported by a parents’ evening and a parent-teacher meeting prior to subject choices being made. At senior cycle the guidance counsellor supports students by speaking to class groups and by holding a meeting of parents and students prior to subject choice.
At both junior and senior cycle students submit a list of preferences in relation to their optional subject choices. Subject option bands are then designed with these preferences in mind. This system is student centred.
The Transition Year programme in the school does not contain a DCG module at present. It is recommended that such a module should form part of this programme so as to provide continuity for students who have studied the subject for junior cycle and to provide students who have not studied the subject with the opportunity to experience it and better inform themselves regarding subject choice for senior cycle. It is suggested that consideration should be given to developing a module that would focus on the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) elements of the new DCG syllabus.
There is an appropriate time allocation for TG and TD/DCG in junior and senior cycle respectively. At junior cycle, class periods are divided into two singles lessons and one double lesson. At senior cycle five class periods are allocated to each year group. It is recommended that all year groups have at least one double lesson to ensure continuity of lessons and to provide sufficient time for more detailed problems to be completed in class time.
There is one TG and TD/DCG room in the school. The room has recently been refurbished and re-organised to provide student access to the new Department of Education and Science grant aided ICT for the new senior cycle DCG syllabus. The work carried out by the department in preparation for the implementation of the new syllabus has allowed for a seamless transition between the two syllabuses. This commitment to the subject and to the school is highly commendable.
School management encourages and facilitates staff to attend continuous professional development (CPD) courses. These courses include the in-service training currently being provided by the Technology Subjects Support Service and a privately run course focusing on the parametric modelling software package that has been supplied to schools. School management and the subject department’s continued commitment to CPD will be of great benefit to both the school and its students.
The comprehensive subject plan for TG and TD/DCG contains a clear long-term plan for the teaching of the subject in the school and identifies a number of long-term objectives such as the introduction of a second first-year class group.
Within this plan, subject plans for both junior and senior cycle provide a clear description of the schemes of work for each year group and also support short-term planning. This short-term planning identifies the skills and learning outcomes that the students should acquire. To further build on this good planning, a list of drawings to be completed for each term could be included in students’ portfolios.
Teachers are informed of students with special educational needs and those requiring learning support at the start of each year. The subject plan also contains a section outlining the various methods employed in dealing with specific special educational needs. This is to be commended as best practice as it allows teachers to plan and prepare for such students in each class.
The level of planning and preparation for lessons observed was very good and a number of resources were prepared in advance and used appropriately. Plans are afoot for the compilation of a resource bank where students could view and save Audio Video Interleave (AVI) files of teacher demonstrations on the interactive whiteboard. This type of innovation is commendable.
The planning and preparation that has gone into the introduction of the new DCG syllabus is significant. The installation of the ICT hardware and its incorporation into the existing classroom allows for the implementation of the new syllabus in its entirety. Quality planning has also taken place in relation to the new syllabus framework. Each element of the syllabus is represented graphically in the subject plan. This type of representation provides a quick and easy reference point for the teacher.
All lessons observed had a clear learning objective and this was shared with students at the beginning. In some lessons this was achieved by showing students a completed pictorial drawing on the interactive whiteboard. In other instances the topic area was identified at the beginning of the lesson. This approach focused students on the required task.
The majority of lessons observed were clearly structured so that content and pace were appropriate to the class group, the subject matter and to the time available. Effective practice was observed in lessons where students were introduced to new topics like orthographic projection. Important drawing principles and construction methods were demonstrated to students prior to progressing to a drawing that incorporated a number of these principles. This sequential approach allowed students to complete drawings in a chronological manner.
At the end of a junior cycle lesson observed the constructions necessary to draw a pictorial view of an orthographically drawn object were introduced to students. While it is important to heighten student curiosity in the subject at an early stage, it is also important to ensure that the subject matter is attainable and appropriate to their level. It is suggested that consideration is given to the value of introducing topics prior to covering the fundamentals.
A range of appropriate and varied teaching methodologies was employed in the lessons observed. In most lessons the whiteboard was used to sketch drawing principles and constructions to assist students in visualising the subject matter. In some instances the interactive whiteboard was utilised to good effect. This was particularly evident in a junior cycle lesson on the isometric scale where the initial orthographic drawing was completed on the interactive whiteboard clearly and efficiently. This allowed students who may have found the initial drawing difficult, to progress onto the isometric scale drawing without delay.
In all lessons observed there was a clear focus on the development of student understanding of the various topics being covered. The approach taken to achieve this meant that students took very little time to set-up drawings allowing for more time in problem solving. While problem solving is a cornerstone of the subject it is recommended, to further develop an overall appreciation for the subjects many facets, that the correct use of the drawing board and drafting instruments be encouraged.
The use of ICT throughout the evaluation was both effective and innovative. The school and the subject department should be commended for embracing ICT and incorporating it into the subject at both junior and senior cycle.
There was evidence of differentiated teaching methods to meet the needs of students in a number of lessons observed. In such instances students were supported in completing drawings through individual support and guidance. Such students were also supported in most lessons observed by new subject matter being introduced in incremental and manageable steps.
In most lessons observed students were encouraged to think for themselves through open-ended questioning and investigative approaches to questioning. Students were regularly encouraged to suggest the next step in the construction of a drawing. This type of questioning improved the overall understanding of topics and helped other students to consolidate learning.
Classroom management was effective and was conducive to a safe, orderly and participative learning environment. The classroom layout facilitated teacher movement around the class and supported teacher demonstrations on the whiteboard, interactive whiteboard and on the students’ individual computer screens.
On all occasions, teacher-student interactions were engaging, purposeful and mutually respectful. Student responses were affirmed if correct, or explored fully to outline why they were incorrect. This practice is commendable as it encourages student interaction thereby promoting learning.
The TG and TD/DCG classroom environment was stimulating for learning and teaching. There were a number of colourful posters displayed on the walls with some examples of student photography work. It is suggested, in order to acknowledge achievement, that further examples of quality student work be displayed around the room. This will promote the “Communication of Design and Computer Graphics” section of the revised Leaving Certificate syllabus.
In the lessons observed students demonstrated an enthusiasm to co-operate, and engaged in all classroom activities and discussions. In all lessons observed students were active in their learning and, in most lessons observed, their questioning and responses to questions and completion of drawings reflected a very good quality of understanding. This eagerness to learn was evident in a senior cycle lesson where students were given a certain amount of freedom to develop their skills of parametric modelling. A structure was given to students but there was room for experiential learning to occur through the modelling of a truck. This allowed students to experiment with the software while learning new skills.
A range of assessment modes was regularly used to assess student competence and progress. These included questioning in class, monitoring of student portfolios and homework, end-of-topic class tests and end-of-term class tests. There was evidence that student progress is monitored regularly and written reports are sent to all parents biannually. Comprehensive end-of-topic test results are kept for each student, and records were available throughout the evaluation. These records, including a photograph of first-year students in the ‘observation cycle’, allow for quality monitoring of students and meaningful feedback to parents.
End-of-term tests make up the total mark awarded to students. It is suggested that a proportion of the marks awarded are based on students’ coursework. By awarding marks for coursework students would be rewarded for maintaining up to date and complete portfolios.
Feedback on assessment is used to assist students to reflect on their learning. In some instances this is done through written comments on student drawings and in other instances through oral feedback upon the completion of drawings. It is suggested that feedback should be provided to students in all class groups on a regular basis through the evaluation of portfolios. This will allow for the evaluation and modification of teaching strategies where appropriate and will also help to diagnose and address individual and class learning needs.
Homework is assigned to all students regularly and a policy outlining guidelines for parents and students provides advice and support to maximize the benefits of homework. Generally students are required to finish questions started in class, or are asked to complete questions to consolidate learning.
‘Mock’ examinations are optional for exam-year students and are held during the Easter mid-term break. Those who wish to sit these exams do so following consultation with their teacher. Christmas examinations for exam-year students are deemed by school management to be more beneficial to teaching and learning than compulsory ‘mock’ examinations. It is suggested that school management constantly review this strategy to ensure optimal student achievement.
The following are the main strengths identified in the evaluation:
· The Technical Drawing room has recently been refurbished and re-organised.
· There is appropriate time allocation to the subject at junior and senior cycle.
· There is a good support system in place for students when making important optional subject choice decisions.
· School management supports and facilitates CPD.
· Quality planning and preparation for individual lessons was evident.
· There is a comprehensive subject plan in place and individual short-term schemes of work for each year group, including planning in relation to the implementation of the new DCG syllabus.
· ICT has been incorporated into the teaching and learning of TG & TD/DCG.
· All lessons observed had a clear learning objective and this was shared with students at the start of each lesson.
· A variety of teaching strategies were employed to produce an active learning environment.
· Classroom management was effective and was conducive to a safe, orderly and participative learning environment.
· Very good student achievement records are maintained.
· 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:
· Technical Drawing should be introduced into the TY programme.
· All senior cycle classes should be timetabled with at least one double lesson per week.
· It is recommended that a more formalised approach to conventional drafting techniques be integrated into all lessons.
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.