An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta
Department of Education and Science
Subject Inspection of Technical Graphics and
Design and Communication Graphics
Holy Child Community School
Sallynoggin, County Dublin
Roll number: 91330K
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 Holy Child Community School, Sallynoggin. 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 two days during which the inspector visited classrooms and observed teaching and learning. The inspector interacted with students and the 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, an assistant principal and the subject teacher. 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.
Technical Graphics (TG) is offered to all first-year students in Holy Child Community School. Uptake of the subject varies from year to year and in some cases the subject is not viable due to the low number of students choosing it. Currently, only the first-year students involved in the subject sampling programme and a second-year class group are studying TG. Due to the low uptake of the subject at junior cycle in recent years, the level of interest in Technical Drawing (TD) has been low. With the introduction of the new Design and Communication Graphics (DCG) syllabus, and having received considerable Department of Education and Science funding to provide students with access to the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) resources for the new senior cycle DCG syllabus, school management has decided to make a concerted effort to reintroduce graphics to the school’s senior cycle curriculum through the inclusion of a DCG module in the school’s optional Transition Year (TY) programme. This is a welcome initial step.
The school also has a designated unit for students with special educational needs (SEN) and provides basic graphics instruction as part of the ‘Towards Independence’ programme. The provision of such a course, providing a basic technology education for these students, is commended.
Currently, the majority of graphics lessons are delivered in the Materials Technology Wood (MTW) room. This room is unsuitable for the delivery of TG and DCG. It is recommended that school management works to remedy this situation by assigning a room to the graphics subjects in order to allow the ICT resources to be stored safely and made easily accessible during lessons.
There are two teachers timetabled to teach TG and DCG in the school. One of these teachers holds qualifications recognised by the Department of Education and Science (DES) to teach the subjects to the highest level. It is recommended that school management make every effort to ensure that a suitably qualified teacher is deployed to all TG and DCG classes including the subject sampling module in first year.
Throughout first year, students are given the opportunity to sample the optional subjects offered in the school in term-long modules. This sampling programme helps students to make more informed optional subject choices based on their experiences and aptitude for the subjects sampled. At the beginning of second year, students then choose their preferred subjects from pre-defined optional subject bands. These subject bands have recently been reviewed and changed to provide more students with their preferences. It is recommended that school management review the subject sampling programme to ensure that the length of the programme does not have a negative impact on the delivery of junior cycle subjects.
School management has facilitated attendance at a number of continuous professional development courses provided by the Technology Subjects Support Service (t4). The attendance at these courses will help with the introduction of DCG to the senior cycle curriculum.
School management has facilitated subject planning time throughout the year. This planning time has resulted in the development of a subject department plan for TG and DCG. This plan is in its early stages and its continued development is encouraged.
Plans have been developed that specify the content to be covered with each year group. This planning is heavily weighted towards second and third year and results in minimal coverage of the course in the sampling programme in first year. Efforts must be made to ensure that students who choose to continue studying TG after the subject sampling programme have attained a suitable level of proficiency in TG in order to maximise the benefits of the remaining two years of the programme. This planning should be achieved by identifying learning outcomes for students as opposed to specific areas of content from text books.
A TY plan has also been developed and this plan focuses on the introduction of parametric modelling to students. This is a very worthwhile topic and should continue to be explored during TY. It is recommended that the methods of assessment be reviewed in order to ensure that the subject is taught and learned in an interesting and significantly different way to DCG in the Leaving Certificate programme. Once the fundamentals of parametric modelling have been covered, active learning methodologies should be used at every opportunity to encourage self-directed learning among students. This could be achieved through the continued use of product modification and the further use of group work, product research and development, design work, class presentations using the acquired skills and additional ICT. Students should then be assessed on the outcomes of these active learning methods.
The subject plan contains a section detailing the subject department’s policies in relation to students with special educational needs (SEN). This section should be further developed by identifying the strategies employed to further include students with additional needs. This could be achieved by listing the most common disabilities that students present themselves with and by detailing the strategies used to further include these students. To carry out this task the subject department should liaise closely with the SEN team in the school and use the online resources available at http://www.ncca.ie/SEN/ncca_launch.htm.
Planning for lessons was very good and a number of resources were prepared in advance and used appropriately. Examples of these resources included models of geometric shapes, wooden teaching aids that helped to facilitate discovery learning, household items to help students identify common applications and uses of geometric solids, prepared worksheets and parametric models.
All lessons observed began with the chosen topic being introduced and the desired outcomes of the lesson being shared with the students. This is good practice.
All topics were introduced in a coherent manner that built on students’ prior knowledge. Sketching was used in one lesson to ensure that students understood the concept of orthographic projection before they were expected to complete any orthographic constructions. This progression from basic to more complex problems is a very good strategy that helps students to develop a secure foundation of knowledge before progressing onto more difficult examples.
The demonstration media used in all lessons were appropriate. Where blackboard drawing and sketching was used it was clear and accurate. ICT demonstrations were helpful, especially when demonstrating key parametric modelling tasks to students and when helping students to visualise the elevation, plan and end views of objects.
In a senior cycle lesson observed, students were encouraged to offer suggestions in relation to the next step in the construction of a parametric model of a digital music player. This strategy ensured that students concentrated on the various steps required to produce the finished artefact. Once they had mastered these steps they were given the autonomy to modify their model by making various additions to improve the aesthetic appearance and function of the design solution. This use of structured learning followed by independent and experiential learning is most beneficial and should be integrated into as many learning situations as possible.
A variety of models and teaching aids were incorporated into lessons observed. These resources were suitable for the lesson content and assisted students with their understanding of specific concepts, such as orthographic projection. To help students to grasp the concept of two-dimensional representations of three-dimensional objects, a large number of wooden blocks were prepared and students constructed various models. This method helped students to grasp the concept and to make a tangible link between the projection systems used for graphic display and the objects being represented.
Questioning was used to determine students’ knowledge and to promote discussion by involving students in the teacher’s construction of solutions on the blackboard. Students were given individual assistance and guidance at their desks and were also questioned on their work.
ICT was integrated into all lessons, observed both to display modelling procedures and to help students to visualise abstract concepts. There will be further opportunity to integrate ICT resources into lessons easily when all TG and DCG lessons are allocated to a room with appropriate networking, display and printing capabilities.
Students were well behaved in all lessons observed and a positive learning environment was evident throughout the inspection. Students were willing to contribute to lessons and offered answers and opinions freely. There was a good work ethic among students who completed a considerable workload in both lessons observed.
Overall, student learning was good. However, junior cycle students are being put at a significant disadvantage due to the quantity of work that is planned for first-year students in the subject sampling programme. This puts considerable pressure on the subject department to complete the remaining elements of the syllabus in the final two years of the programme.
The majority of students choose ordinary level TG in the state examinations. The subject department, with the help of school management, should make every effort to reverse this trend by making a concerted effort to promote and plan for the delivery of Technical Graphics and Design and Communication Graphics.
Formal assessments are held at Christmas and summer with ‘mock’ examinations held for examination year groups in the spring. In addition to these formal assessments, a number of methods were used to assess student progress in class, such as questioning of students and the monitoring of class work. A homework policy, currently at discussion stage with parents, is also being developed to formalise the homework procedures in the school. This is a welcome development.
An opportunity presents itself to further improve student course work by increasing the feedback given to students’ portfolios. The subject department should develop a more formal strategy and administer written feedback and increase the amount of constructive and affirmative feedback given to students. This should help students to learn formatively and also encourage them to maintain good quality portfolios.
The following are the main strengths identified in the evaluation:
· The subjects have received a good level of ICT support to introduce the revised DCG syllabus.
· All students in the school are given the opportunity to sample TG.
· A module consisting of graphics and technology is offered in the school’s designated unit for students with SEN.
· ICT is incorporated into the teaching and learning of TG and DCG.
· All lessons observed were thoroughly planned and well executed.
· Good strategies were employed in lessons to help students to understand complex concepts.
· Classroom management was effective in all lessons observed.
As a means of building on these strengths and to address areas for development, the following key recommendations are made:
· School management should assign a room to TG and DCG in order to facilitate the delivery of the syllabuses and to raise the profile of the
subjects in the school.
· A suitably qualified teacher should be deployed to all TG and DCG classes.
· School management should review the subject sampling programme to ensure that the length of the programme does not have a negative impact on the
delivery of junior cycle subjects.
· The learning outcomes for first-year students in the subject sampling programme should be reviewed to ensure that it prepares students for the remaining
two years of their programme
· The TY DCG plan should be reviewed with a view to further developing the module by way of promoting innovative teaching and learning strategies.
· The subject department should further develop its planning for students with SEN.
· Students’ portfolio work should receive additional affirmative and constructive feedback.
Post-evaluation meetings were held with the teacher 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 October 2009
Submitted by the Board of Management
Area 2 Follow-up actions planned or undertaken since the completion of the inspection activity to implement the findings and recommendations of the inspection
Since the Inspection, the school has set up a specialised graphics room. All graphics students for academic year 2009 – 2010 will be assigned to our specialist graphics teacher.
A new system, recommended by the Inspector for 1st year students sampling programme has been put in place. This means that all 1st years will have sampled all ‘option’ subjects by Christmas & thereafter will pursue the subject of their choice.