An Roinn Oideachais agus EolaŪochta
Department of Education and Science
Subject Inspection of Technical Graphics
De La Salle College,
Churchtown, Dublin 14
Roll number: 60310E
Report on the Quality of Learning and Teaching in Technical Graphics
This report has been written following a subject inspection in De La Salle College, Churchtown. It presents the findings of an evaluation of the quality of teaching and learning in Technical Graphics 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 studentsí work, and had discussions with the teacher. The inspector reviewed school planning documentation and the teacherís 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 of the school was given an opportunity to comment on the findings and recommendations of the report; a response was not received from the board.
Technical Graphics (TG) and Technical Drawing (TD)/Design and Communication Graphics (DCG) are optional subjects for both junior and senior cycle. Currently no students study DCG or TD at senior cycle, and no graphics module is offered in Transition Year (TY). It is recommended that school management and the subject department promote DCG to existing third-year and TY students in an effort to encourage uptake of the subject at senior cycle.
The current time allocation for TG is three lesson periods in first year and three or four periods alternating between second and third year. This is minimal provision. In addition, all lessons are single periods. It is recommended that school management increase the time allocation for TG to four lessons for each year group of junior cycle in order to provide adequate time for the delivery of the syllabus. It is also recommended that double lessons of TG be timetabled at least once a week for all year groups to provide adequate time for more complex problems to be completed during class time.
Students receive support in choosing optional subjects prior to making their subject choice. Incoming first-year students and their parents attend an open day where subject teachers are available to answer questions in relation to the various subjects. At this point students submit a list of preferences in relation to their optional subject choices. Subject option bands are then designed with student preferences in mind. It is recommended, in order to improve support for students at this critical time, that school management consider the introduction of a taster programme in first year, so that first-year students have the opportunity to sample all optional subjects prior to selecting their preferences. At senior cycle, support for students could also be improved by means of including a graphics module in TY. This graphics module could be used to introduce students to elements of the new DCG syllabus. These strategies could increase the proportion of students choosing to study TG and DCG/TD at both junior and senior cycle.
The TG room in the school is appropriate for the teaching and learning of TG at junior cycle, and due to its recent refurbishment and re-organisation it would also be appropriate for teaching the new DCG syllabus. The Department of Education and Science grant-aided Information and Communication Technology (ICT) resources, supplied under the curriculum grant for DCG, have been installed but have yet to be utilised in their intended manner. The work carried out by the department in the preparation of the room for the implementation of the new syllabus is highly commended and it is therefore imperative that the subject forms part of the senior cycle curriculum in the school.
School management encourages and facilitates staff to attend the continuous professional development (CPD) courses currently being provided by the Technology Subjects Support Service. This commitment to CPD is commended.
The subject department has formulated a subject plan for TG. This plan primarily focuses on yearly curriculum content. It is recommended that the subject department continue to develop the subject plan by devising a long-term plan to address challenges identified at subject department meetings such as the re-introduction of TD/DCG at senior cycle, reduced student numbers in first year and subject choice for students.
There was evidence of short-term planning contained in the yearly plans for each year group. This planning was in line with the syllabus and was reflected in classroom practice. These plans also highlighted the use of ICT and Computer Aided Design (CAD). This planning for the incorporation of ICT and CAD into the teaching and learning of TG is highly commended.
The level of planning and preparation for all lessons observed was very good; a number of resources were prepared in advance and used appropriately. In order to further develop the planning for individual lessons, it is suggested that appropriate teaching aids be identified to assist in the explanation of abstract concepts.
Teachers are informed by the learning-support team of students with special educational needs (SEN) and those requiring learning support. A number of strategies, such as the concentration on basic graphicacy for first-year students prior to the introduction of more abstract concepts and the development of studentsí spatial problem-solving abilities, were reported to be used when dealing with SEN and learning-support students.
All lessons observed during the evaluation had a clear learning objective that was shared with students at the beginning; for example, students were shown the proposed problem and possible techniques and solutions were discussed before students attempted to answer the question.
The content and pace of all lessons observed were appropriate to each class group. In one lesson observed, students were given a problem involving the development of a truncated rectangular based prism. This type of problem is ideal in helping students visualise developments. To further improve studentsí understanding of such topics, models of the various developments should be incorporated into the lesson. Students could then be encouraged to check their accuracy by folding the drawing to create a three-dimensional object.
Primarily, group demonstrations were used to present correct drawing procedures to students. This was achieved by using a CAD software package in conjunction with the digital projector. This presentation technique was clear and effective and allowed for the demonstration of correct procedures to students. This use of ICT is commended.
All teacher demonstrations consisted of the complete construction of solutions. This method of demonstration had the effect of reducing studentsí opportunities for investigative approaches to questions. It is recommended that students be encouraged to attempt an element of problem solving in each question. Allowing more independent learning would facilitate more teacher circulation and monitoring of student work.
In all lessons observed classroom management was effective. The classroom layout facilitated teacher observation of students and supported teacher demonstrations on the projection screen.
On all occasions, teacher-student interactions were engaging, purposeful and mutually respectful. The majority of 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.
In most lessons observed, studentsí questions, responses to questions and completion of drawings reflected a good level of understanding. Student work-rate was adequate with some students completing a number of questions in each lesson.
The majority of students follow the ordinary-level course and generally achieve quite well. All students should be encouraged to study the higher-level course where appropriate, thereby improving standards and increasing the feasibility of DCG at senior cycle.
A range of assessment modes was used to assess student competence and progress. These included questioning in class, monitoring of student work and end-of-term class tests. At present exams are timetabled four times a year, at Halloween, Christmas, Easter and the summer. This commitment to regular assessment is commendable as it allows for accurate information regarding student progress to be communicated to parents. It is recommended that the overall mark awarded in these assessments include marks based on studentsí coursework. This approach would benefit students by preparing them for the coursework/project work element of the DCG syllabus while also rewarding students for maintaining up-to-date and complete portfolios.
Studentsí portfolios are stored in the TG room. This provides the subject department with the opportunity of regularly assessing and monitoring studentsí work. It is recommended that student homework and coursework be corrected and individual feedback be given to students on a more regular basis. Feedback on assessments and especially on homework should be used to assist students to reflect on their learning. Correction of student work and feedback to students allow for the evaluation and modification of teaching strategies and also helps to diagnose and address individual and class learning needs.
The following are the main strengths identified in the evaluation:
∑ Technical Graphics and Design and Communication Graphics are offered to all students in De La Salle College.
∑ Subject option bands are designed with student preferences in mind.
∑ The Technical Graphics room has recently been refurbished and re-organised to facilitate the implementation of the new syllabus at senior cycle.
∑ A good proportion of students choose Technical Graphics in De La Salle College.
∑ School management and the subject department are committed to CPD.
∑ Quality planning and preparation for individual lessons was evident.
∑ Yearly curriculum planning has been developed for all junior cycle year groups.
∑ All lessons observed had a clear learning objective and this was shared with students at the start of each lesson.
∑ The content and pace of all lessons observed was appropriate to each class group.
∑ In all lessons, classroom management was effective.
∑ ICT has been embraced in the teaching and learning of Technical Graphics.
As a means of building on these strengths and to address areas for development, the following key recommendations are made:
∑ School management and the subject department should promote Design and Communication Graphics to existing third-year and Transition Year students in an effort to improve the uptake of the subject at senior cycle.
∑ It is recommended that the allocation of time to Technical Graphics be increased and double lessons be timetabled at least once per week for all year groups.
∑ †School management should consider the introduction of a taster programme for first-year students to sample all optional subjects prior to selecting their preferences.
∑ A Design and Communication Graphics module should be included in Transition Year.
∑ The subject department should continue to develop the subject plan by devising a long-term plan addressing student uptake of senior cycle DCG, reduced student numbers in first year and subject choice for students.
∑ Suitable teaching aids and demonstration models should be identified and incorporated into lessons to improve student understanding.
∑ Problem solving should be encouraged to help develop studentsí investigative skills.
∑ A proportion of the overall mark awarded in formal assessments should be based on studentsí coursework.
∑ Student homework and coursework should be corrected and individual feedback be given to students on a more regular basis.
Post-evaluation meetings were held with the teacher of Technical Graphics and with the principal at the conclusion of the evaluation when the draft findings and recommendations of the evaluation were presented and discussed.