An Roinn Oideachais agus EolaŪochta
Department of Education and Science
Subject Inspection of Technical Graphics and
Design and Communication Graphics
Sancta Maria College
Roll number: 64660F
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 Sancta Maria College, Louisburgh, County 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 one day 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 of the school was given an opportunity to comment on the findings and recommendations of the report; the board chose to accept the report without response.
The subjects are offered as part of the Junior and Leaving Certificate programmes. The school intends to offer DCG as part of a module with Constructions Studies in Transition-Year (TY) next year. The time allocation in all year groups is appropriate.
Students are given an open choice of optional subjects for senior cycle. Subject bands are subsequently developed based on studentsí preferences. This is to be commended as best practice.
While students also have a choice of subjects in first year, they must select from pre-defined bands. It is acknowledged however that students are allowed to experience each subject within each band for a short period of time.
There is a good uptake of the subjects at both junior and senior cycles. There are some girls studying the subject in junior cycle and the subject teachers are continually trying to promote the subject to all students. Students are very well supported in making subject choices through open nights, information sessions by each subject department, past pupils and the guidance department to TY students. It is also intended to provide such sessions to students not in TY.
There is one recently refurbished room used for teaching the subjects in the school and it is very well resourced in terms of equipment and furniture. The school has recently purchased computers, printers and data projectors to assist in the implementation of the new elements of the DCG syllabus. Students keep their drawing equipment in school and Leaving Certificate students have a second set at home for homework. It is recommended that all students should keep their drawing equipment at home and the DCG department and school management should purchase a class set of drawing 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. 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 good subject plan. It 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 long-term schemes of work that detail the topics that students in each year group will cover that incorporate broad learning outcomes for each unit of study. It is recommended that the subject teachers should develop medium-term schemes of work for each year group that detail the specific learning outcomes to be achieved by students in each unit of study. It is further recommended that the medium-term schemes of work include sections for self-reflection and appraisal and evaluation of studentsí and class attainment of learning outcomes. 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.
A comprehensive bank of resources has been collated and developed by the subject department.
The level of short-term planning and preparation for each lesson observed was very good. In the lessons observed teachers had prepared some or all of the following resources; worksheets, posters and information and communication technologies (ICT) demonstrations
A very good standard of teaching was observed 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. The subject matter and the pace of the lessons observed were appropriate to the particular group and to the time available. In all lessons observed the desired learning intentions were achieved by the majority of students.
A range of teaching methodologies was employed in the lessons observed. In most lessons observed basic geometric principles and constructions were explored and developed with students through discussion. Subject matter was built up in incremental steps and in most instances 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. This was partially evident in the lessons on boreholes and isometric projection and from a review of student portfolios. It is suggested that this strategy should be extended to all topic areas.
The use of teaching aids that included computer-generated models and chalkboard drawings to support studentsí understanding of basic principles is to be highly commended. The use of a handout to peer-evaluated student design work in fifth year is also 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 teacher 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, purposeful and mutually respectful. In all instances studentsí responses were affirmed. The TG and DCG classroom is stimulating for learning and teaching with numerous wallcharts and studentsí work on display.
The majority of students clearly understood the topics under study in the lessons observed. In all lessons observed a good proportion of students were able to complete the drawing independently using the principles and construction methods explored in the lessons. In instances where students had difficulty, they were able to complete the drawings with the assistance and guidance of the teacher.
In all lessons observed studentsí portfolio work indicated that an appropriate level of subject areas was covered and the quality of studentsí drawings was of a standard appropriate to the subject, year group and level of study. It is recommended however that the subject teachers monitor and check student portfolios on a more regular basis.
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. The school has developed very good procedures to monitor studentsí academic performance in fifth year and where necessary students are targeted for additional support. School management hopes to develop this support structure for all year groups. Teachers continually monitor studentsí progress and written reports are sent to parents on a regular basis in all year groups.
There are additional systems in place to support communication between the school and parents and these include use of studentsí journals, parent-teacher meetings, and individual meetings with parents when required.
Feedback on studentsí work is given in oral form and there was some evidence of constructive feedback on drawings in portfolios for some year groups. Homework is given on a regular basis to sixth years and less frequently to all other year groups. It is recommended that homework be given on a regular basis to all year groups. It is further recommended that constructive feedback be provided on student drawing portfolios on a more regular basis to all year groups.
The following are the main strengths identified in the evaluation:
∑ There is an open choice of subjects for senior cycle.
∑ Students are provided with very good supports when choosing subjects for senior cycle.
∑ There are excellent facilities to cater for the revised syllabus at senior cycle.
∑ Teachers have developed a subject plan and long-term schemes of work for each year group.
∑ A range of very good teaching methodologies was observed during the inspection.
∑ A range of assessment modes is used to assess studentsí competence and progress.
∑ The school has developed very good procedures to monitor studentsí academic performance in fifth year.
As a means of building on these strengths and to address areas for development, the following key recommendations are made:
∑ All students should keep their drawing equipment at home and the DCG department and school management should purchase a class set of drawing equipment.
∑ The subject teachers should develop medium-term schemes of work for each year group that detail the specific learning outcomes to be achieved by students in each unit of study.
∑ Homework should be given on a regular basis to all year groups and constructive feedback should be provided on all student portfolios.
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