An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta
Department of Education and Science
Subject Inspection of Technical Graphics and Technical Drawing/Design and Communication Graphics
Ballyhale, Co. Kilkenny
Roll number: 70570N
Date of issue of report: 22 May 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 Scoil Aireagail, Ballyhale, Co. Kilkenny. It presents the findings of an evaluation of the quality of teaching and learning in Technical Graphics and Technical Drawing/Design and Communication Graphics 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 teacher, examined students’ work, and had discussions with the teacher. The inspector reviewed school planning documentation and the teacher’s written preparation. Following the evaluation visit, the inspector provided oral feedback on the outcomes of the evaluation to the principal and the 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. At senior cycle, DCG forms part of the Transition Year (TY) and the Leaving Certificate programmes. There is a very good time allocation for the subjects especially at senior cycle. At junior and senior cycle the provision of double lessons provides adequate time for more complex problems to be completed in class time.
In choosing optional subjects, junior cycle students receive a good level of support. All students partake in a taster programme in first year where they sample all optional subjects. This is supported by the subject department’s involvement in an open night and a parents’ evening where parents of incoming first-year students can meet with the principal, deputy principal and subject teachers to discuss subject choice.
At junior cycle, having completed their taster programme, students choose their preferred optional subjects. TG is currently offered in an option band with Music and Metalwork and, at senior cycle, DCG is currently offered in an option band with Art and Business. These option bands are regularly reviewed depending on student preferences.
A good proportion of boys and girls study the subjects in the school. This is an indication of the very good work being carried out by the subject department in the promotion of the subjects during the taster programme in first year and during TY.
There is one designated TG and TD/DCG room in the school. This room is due to be refurbished and re-organised to provide student access to the new Department of Education and Science grant-aided Information and Communication Technology (ICT) resources for the new senior cycle DCG syllabus. It is recommended that school management and the subject department explore as many room layouts as possible before deciding upon and implementing the most suitable configuration for the ICT resources in the room.
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 professional development is commended.
The subject department has formulated a subject plan for TG and TD/DCG based on School Development Planning Initiative (SDPI) templates. It is recommended that this plan be updated to include yearly curriculum content, teaching methodologies, assessment procedures and student learning outcomes. This subject plan should also be updated to electronic format to allow for easy revision.
A plan for the graphics module in TY has also been developed. It is recommended, to further build upon this work, that it too be updated to electronic format and that it should reflect the content and methodologies reported to be employed in the current TY graphics module.
Short-term planning for lessons was supported by a comprehensive catalogue of drawings compiled over a number of years. This short-term planning is in line with the subjects’ syllabuses.
The level of planning and preparation for all lessons observed was very good and a number of resources and teaching aids were prepared in advance and used appropriately.
Teachers are informed of students with special educational needs and those requiring learning support at the beginning of each year and there are good links between the learning-support team and the subject department on both a formal and informal basis.
All lessons observed during the evaluation had a clear learning objective. It is suggested that this learning objective be shared with each class at the beginning of the lesson, as a short introduction to the lesson would refocus students on previously covered material.
All lessons followed a sequential and structured format and were appropriate to the class group, the subject matter and the time available; for example, in a senior cycle lesson on the topic of the oblique plane initially students constructed the elevation and plan of a square based pyramid and the traces of the oblique plane cutting it. The method used to construct the auxiliary elevation was then demonstrated. Students then continued to work independently until almost all had generated the plan and elevation of the cut solid. Finally, students were shown how to determine the true shape of the cut surface by rabatting the plane. However, not all students completed this part of the question. It is suggested that any work not completed in class time be given to students for homework in order to ensure that the class group progresses in a uniform manner.
A range of appropriate and varied teaching methodologies was employed in the lessons observed. In all lessons, individual and group demonstrations were used to present correct drawing procedures to students. The blackboard was used clearly and effectively in all lessons. This was achieved through the use of coloured chalk to demonstrate various line types and through good use of shading and sketching. In a senior cycle lesson, a small model of the planes of reference was used effectively to help students visualise an oblique plane.
There was no evidence of the use of ICT in the teaching and learning of TG and TD/DCG throughout the evaluation. However, the impending implementation and use of the ICT resources in DCG will provide the subject department with a valuable resource for the teaching and learning of TG and TD/DCG.
In most lessons observed, students were encouraged to think for themselves through investigative approaches to questioning. This was particularly apparent in a junior cycle lesson where students were given a choice of questions. These questions involved students implementing various principles and constructions to achieve the required solution. A number of methods were explored and students were given the freedom to use whatever method was most suitable, or a combination of methods, to determine the required solution. This approach to problem solving is essential in developing students’ understanding and problem-solving abilities and the use of State Examination Commission (SEC) type questions during class time prepares exam-year students for their Junior and Leaving Certificate examinations.
Classroom management was effective in all lessons observed. The classroom layout facilitated teacher movement around the class and allowed for constant monitoring of student progress.
On all occasions, teacher-student interactions were engaging, purposeful and mutually respectful. Students demonstrated an enthusiasm to co-operate, and engaged in all classroom activities and answered questions readily. Students demonstrated familiarity with the subject matter and a considerable work ethic permeated throughout each lesson.
A very high proportion of students studying TG choose ordinary level and generally achieve very well at this level. It is recommended that more students follow the higher-level syllabus and only attempt ordinary level when higher level is unattainable for them. At senior cycle student uptake and attainment is appropriate.
A range of assessment modes was regularly used to assess student competence and progress. These included questioning in class, monitoring of class work and end-of-term class tests. It is recommended that a proportion of the marks awarded for end-of-term examinations be based on students’ portfolios. 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.
Currently homework is not assigned to students on a regular basis. It is recommended that homework be assigned to students and corrected frequently. By assigning and correcting homework, written constructive feedback can be given to students to help them improve their understanding. This would also allow for the evaluation and modification of teaching strategies and help to diagnose and address individual and class learning needs.
Written reports are sent to all parents after Christmas, summer and ‘mock’ examinations. All sixth-year students have a designated academic mentor. Teachers who act in this role provide individual help and guidance in relation to academic matters such as advice regarding the completion of project work, study skills and any exam-related issues. This system is commended.
The following are the main strengths identified in the evaluation:
· Technical Graphics and Technical Drawing/Design Communication Graphics form part of the curriculum of the school at both junior and senior cycle.
· There is a very good time allocation to the subject at junior and senior cycle.
· A taster programme provides support for students in first year prior to making their subject choice.
· The subject department promotes Technical Graphics and Technical Drawing/Design Communication Graphics at an annual open night.
· A good proportion of boys and girls choose to study Technical Graphics and Technical Drawing/Design and Communication Graphics in Scoil Aireagail.
· School management supports and facilitates CPD.
· All lessons observed were well planned and had a clear learning objective.
· The demonstration techniques used throughout the evaluation were clear and effective and aided student visualisation of abstract concepts.
· A mentor system has been developed for sixth-year students to support and advise them in relation to academic matters.
As a means of building on these strengths and to address areas for development, the following key recommendations are made:
· It is recommended that school management and the subject department should explore as many room layouts as possible before deciding upon and implementing the most suitable configuration for the ICT resources in the Technical Graphics and Technical Drawing/Design Communication Graphics room.
· The subject department plan should be updated to electronic format to allow for review and should include curriculum content, student learning outcomes for each year group, and assessment procedures.
· The TY plan should also be updated to electronic format to allow for review and should reflect the content and methodologies of the current TY programme.
· Students should follow the higher-level syllabus and only attempt ordinary level when higher level is unattainable for them.
· Homework should be assigned and corrected on a more regular basis.
· The subject department should consider including marks awarded for students’ portfolio work in their overall assessment.
Post-evaluation meetings were held with the teacher of Technical Graphics and Technical Drawing/Design and Communication Graphics and with the principal at the conclusion of the evaluation when the draft findings and recommendations of the evaluation were presented and discussed.