An Roinn Oideachais agus EolaŪochta
Department of Education and Science
Subject Inspection of Technical Graphics and
Design and Communication Graphics
Templeogue Road, Dublin 6W
Roll number: 60570H
REPORT ON THE QUALITY OF LEARNING AND TEACHING IN TECHNICAL GRAPHICS AND DESIGN AND COMMUNICATION GRAPHICS
This report has been written following a subject inspection in Terenure College. It presents the findings of an evaluation of the quality of teaching and learning in Technical Graphics and 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 the teachers, examined studentsí work, and had discussions with the teachers. The inspector reviewed school planning documentation and the teachersí written preparation. Following the evaluation visit, the inspector provided oral feedback on the outcomes of the evaluation to the principal and the subject teachers.† The board of management of the school was given an opportunity to comment in writing on the findings and recommendations of the report, and the response of the board will be found in the appendix of this report.
Terenure College offers Technical Graphics (TG) and Design and Communication Graphics (DCG) as optional subjects in its junior and senior cycle programmes. Currently, there are two optional DCG modules offered in the schoolís compulsory Transition Year (TY) programme. These modules provide an opportunity for students who did not study junior cycle TG to sample senior cycle DCG prior to entering the Leaving Certificate programme. This is a worthwhile intervention. All graphics subjects receive appropriate time allocations. However, a number of class groups are timetabled for graphics on separate occasions on the same day. This situation should be avoided in future.
The subject department has access to a bright, spacious and well-equipped room. This room has ample storage facilities, good quality demonstration media, appropriate information and communication technology (ICT) resources and an abundance of posters and student work on display. There is also an extension to this room where additional ICT resources are available for both students and teachers. The allocation of these rooms has been devolved to the subject department and this arrangement is reported to be working well. The provision of quality accommodation and resources to the subject department is commended.
The subject department has availed of the recent and ongoing continuous professional development (CPD) courses provided by the Technology Subjects Support Service (t4) and has made good use of the resources made available in the promotion and delivery of the revised DCG syllabus.
There are two members of the graphics subject department, both of whom teach the subject at senior cycle. School management is commended for providing the opportunity for both members of the subject department to teach the revised DCG syllabus. This initiative will provide the opportunity for future flexibility in the deployment of teachers to the subject area.
At junior cycle, students choose one optional subject from the following possibilities: German, Spanish, Home Economics, Art, Materials Technology (Wood), Music and Technical Graphics. It was reported during the inspection that each year a number of students do not get the opportunity to study the most popular subjects. It is recommended, to counteract this, that school management review the system currently employed to provide optional subjects for students.
At senior cycle, class groups are divided into higher and ordinary-level groups from the beginning of their programme of study. The decision to place students in the various classes is determined by studentsí previous exposure to Technical Graphics at junior cycle, their completion of the appropriate TY modules and their aptitude for the subject. DCG classes run concurrently in order to allow students open access to both levels. Movement between these levels is accommodated early in fifth year for those students who require it.
An information morning is held in the school to provide support to students and parents before important subject choices are made. Parents of prospective students are given a tour of the school and teachers are available to answer any questions or queries that they may have. To further improve this system, it is suggested that any relevant literature pertaining to optional subjects be circulated with the schoolís prospectus. This would help students and parents make more informed decisions based on up-to-date information.
Uptake of TG at junior cycle is very good and at senior cycle a good proportion of these students continue to study the subject. This number is increased by a small number of students who choose the subject having only the beginners and advanced DCG modules in TY as a foundation.
Subject department planning occurs during formal planning meetings facilitated by school management and through regular informal meetings of the subject department. Currently, it is not subject department policy to document the issues discussed and outcomes of these planning meetings. It is recommended that the duties attached to the role of subject coordinator should include the recording of the minutes of these meetings and that this role be rotated among members of the subject department in order to equally divide the workload.
A subject department plan has been developed and this plan lists a number of departmental practices and polices in relation to dealing with specific issues such as: homework; assessment; special educational needs (SEN) provision for students; student access to the subject and the current option structures in operation in the school. In addition to this, curricular plans for each year group have been developed and agreed upon. These plans, particularly those for DCG, are designed based on student learning outcomes, as is good practice.
A TY plan has been developed to formalise the provision of two distinct DCG modules in TY. The first module endeavours to introduce students to graphic communication and is primarily aimed at those students who may not have studied TG at junior cycle but who may wish to take on DCG at senior cycle. The second module is a more advanced course that concentrates on computer aided design (CAD). To further develop these modules, it is recommended that the modes of assessment used be reviewed to ensure that student learning and assessment are considerably different to what will be experienced during the Leaving Certificate programme.
Teachersí individual planning for lessons was very good and a number of good quality teaching aids and resources were introduced to lessons where appropriate. These resources are stored in the main graphics room and are easily accessible to all members of the subject department.
The subject department maintains good records of student uptake at higher and ordinary level. These records help to monitor student achievement and to ensure consistent standards are being maintained.
All lessons observed had a clear learning outcome and, on some occasions, this learning outcome was shared with students at the beginning. It is recommended that this strategy be extended to all lessons as it provides both the teacher and the students with a focus on the specific objective of the lesson and enables the success of the lesson to be easily evaluated at the end.
The subject matter in all lessons observed was consistent with studentsí prior learning and was introduced sequentially with the planned programme of work for the year group in mind. In one lesson, students were encouraged to be creative and to develop their design skills. This is a worthwhile strategy and should be extended to as many lessons as possible as it allows more able students to work independently and progress at a rate suitable to their individual abilities. †
High quality demonstration media were used throughout the inspection. Blackboard drawings were clear and accurate and were enhanced by the use of coloured chalk to reinforce studentsí understanding of various line types. ICT was also used to supplement the teaching and learning experience for students. In one instance it was used to highlight the use of graphics in advertising and marketing and, in another case, it was used to develop studentsí parametric modelling skills through the completion of an assigned task. These strategies helped to vary the learning experiences for students but were also educationally worthwhile.
The main teaching methodology employed in junior cycle lessons was teacher demonstration followed by student work, supported by teacher circulation of the classroom to offer support and guidance to individual students at their desks. This strategy was successful. At senior cycle, students were given considerably more autonomy in their learning and individual attention was given to them when required. This was possible due to the independent and explorative nature of parts of the revised syllabus at senior cycle.
The layout and configuration of the drawing boards and computers in the graphics room is conducive to an orderly learning environment. Students were well-behaved and productive in the three lessons observed. This was made possible by the positive rapport that has been developed between students and teachers.
Teachersí enthusiasm for the subject was apparent in all lessons observed and was conveyed to students through the energetic delivery of lessons. Students also reflected an enthusiasm for the subject through their presentation of project work and coursework.
A variety of posters are on display in the graphics room. Particular posters are put in a prominent position in the classroom when the relevant topic is being explored. Once the topic has been completed the poster is put back into its usual position. This technique draws the studentsí attention to specific posters at relevant times thereby increasing the impact and educational value of the resource.
Students demonstrated their learning through the application of their parametric modelling skills, presentation and research skills and their conventional drafting skills. In all lessons, students were observed to be capable and motivated. The majority of students attempt higher level at junior and senior cycle in the state examinations and generally achieve very well at their chosen level.
Formal examinations are held bi-annually with an additional assessment for examination year groups in the springtime. These examinations consist of a terminal examination and, in some cases, an additional portfolio assessment. This is good practice, especially for senior cycle students as it reflects the assessment model to be used for the revised DCG syllabus. To further develop this practice the subject department should endeavour to include a small design modification project as part of their end-of-year assessment to help students hone the skills required to complete the project element in the final year of their programme.
At junior cycle, common assessments are used for students until they have decided upon the most appropriate course for their abilities. Due to the setting of class groups at senior cycle, all assessments are differentiated to reflect studentsí abilities and this ensures that they receive accurate and relevant information throughout their programme of study.
A homework policy is in place in the school and the subject department uses various methods of prescribing homework to students. For junior cycle students, a workbook is utilised to supplement prescribed class work. At senior cycle, examination type questions are used with additional sketching and parametric modeling tasks assigned periodically.
Teachers offered good feedback to students during lessons observed. This feedback was administered at studentsí desks where specific questions were discussed. In addition to this formative feedback, some very good records of student assessments were also presented to the inspector. These assessments are extremely useful in plotting particular studentsí progress and in identifying areas that need to be revised. To further build upon this good practice, an increase in the amount of formative feedback for portfolio work would be beneficial in helping students identify areas for development.
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 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.
Published December 2009
Submitted by the Board of Management
Area 1†† Observations on the content of the inspection report†† ††
Terenure College welcomes the Inspection and the subsequent Report.
We consider the report to be very positive, with the affirmation of many praiseworthy elements.† In particular we are encouraged by the commending of:
(i) The provision of quality accommodation and resources;
(ii) The very good level of planning for the subject;
(iii) The ongoing professional development of the teachers;
(iv) The high quality of teaching and learning and the particular mention made of the quality of the teaching strategies, the enthusiasm of both teachers and students, and the rapport that exists between teachers and students.
All of the above is reflected in the very good attainments of the students, as noted.
Area 2†† Follow-up actions planned or undertaken since the completion of the inspection activity to implement the findings and recommendations of the inspection ††††††††
We also welcome the recommendations given in the report.† These recommendations are being considered with an aim to further improve the quality of education offered in Technical Graphics and Design and Communication Graphics.