An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta
Department of Education and Science
Subject Inspection of Technical Graphics and Technical Drawing/Design and Communication Graphics
Ringsend Technical Institute
Cambridge Road, Dublin 4
Roll number: 70200D
Report on the Quality of Learning and Teaching in Technical Graphics and Design and Communication Graphics/Technical Drawing
This report has been written following a subject inspection in the Ringsend Technical Institute, Cambridge Road, conducted as part of a whole school evaluation. It presents the findings of an evaluation of the quality of teaching and learning in Technical Graphics and Design and Communication Graphics/Technical Drawing 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 students’ work, and had discussions with the teachers. The inspector reviewed school planning documentation and the teachers’ written preparation. Following the evaluation visit, the inspector provided oral feedback on the outcomes of the evaluation to the principal and the subject teachers.
Provision is made for technology education in the curriculum of the school through the inclusion of Technical Graphics (TG) at junior cycle and Design and Communication Graphics (DCG)/Technical Drawing (TD) at senior cycle. At junior cycle, some students follow the Junior Certificate School Programme (JCSP) and, at senior cycle, all students follow the Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme (LCVP). It is commended that all students are presented with the opportunity to choose to study a technology subject in each programme of study.
TG and DCG/TD are allocated four class periods per week at both junior and senior cycle. This allocation, while appropriate at junior cycle, is minimal at senior cycle. It is recommended that school management explore the possibility of an additional class period per week for DCG/TD. The subject teachers are to be commended for their dedication in providing extra tuition to senior cycle students.
At junior cycle, subject teachers have, on occasion, alternated class groups from year to year. It is recommended that, where possible, specific year groups retain the same teacher for the duration of the programme in order to maintain continuity.
A good proportion of boys and girls study TG. Presently no girls study DCG/TD. School management has undertaken considerable research and analysis of the projected enrolment for the school and has identified an increase in the enrolment of girls in the next school year. It is therefore imperative that the subject department, through coordinated subject planning, formulate a number of strategies to raise the profile of the subject with female students in mind.
At junior cycle, 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 day and by advice to students from the subject teachers and the head of junior cycle. This level of support for students at critical decision-making times is commended. With the recent appointment of a guidance counsellor, junior and senior cycle students should receive advice and information in relation to subject choice in a more formalised manner.
Students entering first year and fifth year must select optional subjects from pre-set subject bands. These subject bands are reviewed regularly. The most recent review, on foot of demands from students for DCG/TD at senior cycle, allowed for senior cycle DCG/TD to be re-introduced to the school’s curriculum after a period of absence. The inclusion of DCG/TD at senior cycle is a welcome development.
Currently there are two TG and DCG/TD rooms in the school. As of yet, no funding for the implementation of the new DCG syllabus has been received by the school. Upon receipt of this funding, management and the subject department have decided to refurbish one of the existing rooms. This refurbishment will create a much-needed specialist TG/DCG room. It is hoped that this will have the effect of raising the status of the subject in the school, allow for the creation of a more graphics-rich learning environment for students and provide the subject department with a centralised resource area.
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.
Departmental planning meetings are held regularly. This is good practice as it allows both members of the department to take an active role in subject planning. As a result of these meetings the subject department has formulated yearly curricular plans for each year group. It is recommended, to build upon this good work, that the subject department should work collaboratively on the further development of the overall subject plan, with particular emphasis on long-term planning. This subject plan should identify priorities for the development of the subjects within the school. Priorities should include: increasing student uptake at higher level; increasing the number of girls choosing to study the subject and implementing the new DCG syllabus. Once appropriate goals have been identified, strategies should then be developed to achieve these goals; for example, developing formative feedback procedures for students, developing questions and applications of drawing principles that are targeted at girls as well as boys and planning for the implementation of the DCG Information and Communication Technology (ICT) resources. Once these strategies are in place, appropriate timeframes for their implementation should be determined incorporating a review procedure to ascertain their success.
The level of planning and preparation for all lessons observed was very good, and a wide variety of resources, prepared in advance, was used appropriately. This was particularly evident by the in-school development and use of a web-based teaching resource for TG. This type of innovation is highly commended.
All lessons observed during the evaluation had a clear learning intention that was shared with the students at the beginning. This was achieved through keywords and important principles being highlighted from the outset. This focussed students on what was expected of them and was consistently repeated throughout the lessons. Subject specific terminology was used appropriately throughout the lessons observed resulting in technology literate students.
Lessons were adapted to suit each class group observed. In a senior cycle lesson, the small group of students of similar ability worked on one particular aspect of the syllabus. In a junior cycle lesson, containing a wide mix of abilities, a more differentiated approach was taken and students worked on tasks appropriate to their needs. Both strategies were successful and this varied approach is commended.
A range of appropriate teaching methodologies was employed in the lessons observed. Individual and group demonstrations were used to present correct drawing procedures to students. These demonstrations were carried out at the blackboard or, if needed, at the student’s desk. The quality of blackboard drawing was very good and, in all instances, the principles being demonstrated were correct.
Peer learning was observed in a junior cycle lesson. This strategy allowed some students to assist others and promoted a positive learning atmosphere in the class. This positive atmosphere is further promoted by the sensitive manner in which JCSP tasks and statements are monitored.
Where ICT was used, it was effective and innovative. This was evident in a junior cycle lesson where prepared animations of a variety of constructions were used to reinforce student knowledge and understanding. This approach allowed a number of procedures relating to the ellipse to be reiterated to students throughout the lesson.
Good quality teaching resources have been developed and, where appropriate, distributed to students. The use of such resources supported teaching and helped students to work at their own pace during lessons and also provided them with material suitable for revision.
Classroom management was effective in all lessons observed. The classroom layouts facilitated teacher movement around the rooms and supported teacher demonstrations. In all lessons, teacher-student interactions were engaging, purposeful and mutually respectful. Students were positively affirmed and were enthusiastic in their responses.
In all lessons, students were appropriately challenged and worked at a pace appropriate to their level. Almost all students follow the ordinary-level course at both junior and senior cycle and achieve very well at this level. The importance of students taking the higher-level course, where appropriate, must be constantly reiterated by teachers to both students and parents in order to instil a culture of high expectation and increase student uptake at this level.
Students are assessed formally during timetabled examinations at Christmas and summer. In addition to this, third and sixth-year students also sit ‘mock’ examinations. Results of these examinations are conveyed to parents by reports, parent-teacher meetings and through the teachers’ use of the student journal. It is suggested that a percentage of marks be awarded to students in recognition of their portfolio work during the term. This will help students make the transition from terminal examination at junior cycle to a significant proportion of portfolio assessment during the DCG course at senior cycle while also rewarding students for maintaining up-to-date and complete portfolios.
Teachers’ use of formative oral feedback during lessons helped students to identify particular areas for development such as hatching techniques in sectional drawings and improved freehand drawing of the perimeter of the ellipse. It is suggested that this level of formative feedback be extended to written feedback on students’ homework and portfolios.
The following are the main strengths identified in the evaluation:
· All students have the opportunity to choose Technical Graphics and Technical Drawing/Design and Communication Graphics.
· All Technical Graphics and Technical Drawing/Design and Communication Graphics lessons comprise of double periods allowing for complex drawings to be completed in class time.
· There is a taster programme in place to allow all students to sample optional subjects prior to making a subject choice.
· Option bands are reviewed regularly to suit student preferences.
· School management and the subject department are fully committed to CPD.
· The subject department has developed yearly subject plans for each year group.
· Very good planning and preparation for individual lessons was evident throughout the evaluation.
· All lessons observed had a clear learning objective and this was shared with students at the beginning of each lesson.
· Appropriate goals were set for individuals to cater for the range of abilities in the lessons.
· A variety of teaching methodologies was employed in all lessons observed.
· Where ICT was incorporated into the teaching and learning of Technical Graphics and Technical Drawing/Design and Communication Graphics it was done so in an interesting and innovative way.
· Appropriate teaching resources were effectively incorporated into lessons.
· Students achieve very well at ordinary level.
As a means of building on these strengths and to address areas for development, the following key recommendations are made:
· It is recommended that the subject plan be further developed to identify key priorities for the subject; for example the increasing of student uptake at higher level, and that strategies be implemented to achieve these goals.
· It is recommended that specific year groups should retain the same teacher for the duration of the programme to maintain continuity where possible.
· It is recommended that school management explore the possibility of an additional class period per week for DCG/TD.
Post-evaluation meetings were held with the teachers 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.
Published December 2008