An Roinn Oideachais agus EolaŪochta
Department of Education and Science
Subject Inspection of Technical Graphics and
Design and Communication Graphics
St. Louis Community School,
Roll number: 91494R
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 St. Louis Community School, Kiltimagh, Co Mayo. It presents the findings of an evaluation of the quality of teaching and learning in Technical Graphics (TG) and 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 two days during which the inspector visited classrooms and observed teaching and learning. The inspector interacted with students and teachers, examined studentsí work, and had discussions with the teachers. The inspector reviewed school-planning documentation and teachersí written preparation. Following the evaluation visit, the inspector provided oral feedback on the outcomes of the evaluation to the principal and subject teachers.† 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.
The subjects are offered as part of the Junior, Transition Year (TY) and Leaving Certificate programmes. The time allocation in all year groups is appropriate.
Students are given an open choice of optional subjects in both junior and senior cycles. Subject bands are subsequently developed based on studentsí preferences. This is to be commended as best practice. There is a very good uptake of the subjects at both junior and senior cycles, although the numbers choosing the subject have fallen in first year. The drop in numbers is below the overall fall in numbers entering first year. There is a high proportion of girls studying the subject in all year groups except first year. It is recommended that school management and the subject teachers explore the reasons for the significant fall in numbers in first year and the reasons why no girls chose the subject in first year this year.
Students are very well supported when choosing optional subjects through open nights, information evenings and written subject descriptions.
There are a number of rooms used to teach the subject in the school. The main room has recently been refurbished and is very well equipped to deliver the new DCG syllabus. It is recommended that all class groups should be timetabled for classes in the main drawing room. Senior cycle students are provided with a class set of drawing equipment for use in class, which has been purchased by school management, and use their own set for homework. Junior cycle students use their own drawing in class and for homework. It is recommended that school management should purchase a class set of drawing equipment, as per the Department of Education and Science equipment list, for both junior and senior cycle TG and DCG. This will ensure that all students have the correct items of equipment each day and reduce the chance of damaging and losing equipment.
School management has facilitated the subject teachers in attending the in-service organised by the Department of Education and Science through the Technology Subjectsí Support Service (T4) for the implementation of the new syllabus in DCG. The school management has also provided in-school continuing professional development (CPD) during staff days to assist teachers in teaching and learning.
The TG and DCG teachers are facilitated by school management to meet and discuss and plan their work. The subject teachers have developed a comprehensive subject plan. It clearly sets out the policies and practices of the subject department in relation to the organisation, provision, planning, teaching and learning and assessment of TG and DCG in the school.
The TG and DCG teachers have developed comprehensive medium-term schemes of work that detail the topics that students in each year group will cover. In some instances the class teacher records individual and class progress and attainment of learning outcomes in a notebook or teacherís journal. It is suggested that all teachers should use the medium-term schemes of work to record class progress and to record studentsí attainment in topic areas. This helps to identify class strengths and areas for development. This practice should be extended to all class groups and the monitoring of class work, homework and studentsí portfolios should be further utilised for this purpose.
The subject teachers are to be highly commended for identifying key priorities for the future development of the subject in the school. In addition to the recommendations in this report in relation to drawing equipment and the timetabling of the main drawing room, they have set as a priority the development of a website to support studentsí learning in the subject.
The level of short-term planning and preparation for each lesson observed varied from excellent to satisfactory. Best practice was observed in the senior cycle lessons visited during the course of the evaluation. In the lessons observed teachers had prepared some or all of the following resources: models, worksheets, teacher drawings, posters, information and communication technologies (ICT) demonstrations and overhead transparencies.
The quality of teaching ranged from exemplary to satisfactory during the course of the inspection. All lessons observed had a clear learning intention that was shared with the students at the beginning of each lesson. Most lessons observed had a clearly defined structure. The subject matter of the lessons observed was appropriate to the particular group, and to the time available. In most lessons observed the desired learning intentions were achieved.
A range of teaching methodologies was employed in the lessons observed. Best practice was observed where the geometric principles and constructions were explored and developed with students through discussion prior to introduction of a drawing problem based on their application. Best practice was also observed where the aim of each new drawing completed by students is used to extend studentsí knowledge and understanding through the introduction of new principles or the application of principles in more diverse and challenging ways. In some instances the teacher drew oblique or isometric sketches of objects on the board to aid communication and the teaching and learning of the topic under study. In some instances students were also encouraged to sketch key principles and constructions on their drawing sheets. These strategies were particularly evident in the senior cycle lessons observed. It is recommended that such teaching strategies should be discussed, explored, developed and implemented by all teachers. The use of teaching aids that included models (3-dimensional tactile models and computer-generated models), teacher-technical drawings, chalkboard and whiteboard drawings and sketches to support studentsí understanding of basic principles is to be highly commended.
In all lessons observed the teachers offered individual support and direction where appropriate while students were completing assigned tasks. Classroom management was effective and was conducive to a safe, orderly and participative learning environment. Classroom discipline was supported by constant movement around the classroom to ensure students were on task and engaged in lesson activities.
There was excellent rapport between teachers and students in all lessons observed. Teacher-student interactions were engaging and mutually respectful. In all instances studentsí responses were affirmed. The main TG and DCG classroom is stimulating for learning and teaching with wallcharts and studentsí work on display.
In most lessons observed students clearly understood the topics under study. Students were able to demonstrate an ability to analyse and apply their learning through the completion of problems focusing on the learning intention of each lesson in the senior cycle lessons observed. There was some evidence of students analysing and applying their knowledge to complete drawings in the junior cycle lessons observed, however in some instances students required a lot of support, guidance and step-by-step instruction to complete the drawing. In some instances student drawings were incorrectly completed in the junior cycle lessons observed. It is suggested that a review of the teaching strategies used in such instances will greatly enhance student understanding.†
In most instances studentsí portfolio work indicated an appropriate level of subject areas covered and the quality of studentsí drawings were of a standard appropriate to the subject, year group and level of study.
The TG and DCG teachers employ a range of assessment techniques to assess studentsí competence and progress. These techniques include questioning in class, some monitoring and checking of studentsí homework and portfolios, and regular tests throughout the year. Written reports are sent to parents on a regular basis. There are additional systems in place to support communication between the school and parents. These include use of studentsí journals, parent-teacher meetings, and individual meetings with parents when required.
Feedback on studentsí work is generally given in oral form and there was evidence of formative feedback on drawings in portfolios for most year groups. It is recommended that all teachers should continually monitor and check student portfolios in all year groups. Homework is given on a regular basis to students. When homework is given it is corrected promptly.
The following are the main strengths identified in the evaluation:
∑ There is an open choice of subjects for both junior and senior cycles.
∑ There are excellent facilities to cater for the revised syllabus at senior cycle.
∑ Teachers have developed a comprehensive subject plan and medium-term schemes of work for each year group.
∑ The subject teachers have developed key priorities for the future development of the subject in the school.
∑ Exemplary teaching methodologies were used in the senior cycle lessons observed.
∑ A range of assessment modes is used to assess studentsí competence and progress.
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 teachers should explore the reasons for the fall in numbers in first year and the reasons why no girls chose the subject in first year this year. School management should purchase a class set of drawing equipment for junior and senior cycle TG and DCG.
∑ The exemplary teaching methodologies observed during the course of the evaluation and detailed in this report should be discussed, explored, developed and implemented by all of the TG and DCG teachers in the school.
Post-evaluation meetings were held with the teachers of TG and DCG and with the principal at the conclusion of the evaluation when the draft findings and recommendations of the evaluation were presented and discussed.
Published November 2008