An Roinn Oideachais agus EolaŪochta
Department of Education and Science
Subject Inspection of Technical Graphics and
Design and Communication Graphics
Fingal Community College
Swords, County Dublin
Roll number: 70121H
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 Fingal Community College, carried out as part of a whole-school evaluation. 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.
Technical Graphics (TG) and Design and Communication Graphics (DCG) are offered as part of the Junior and Leaving Certificate programmes. Apart from the current sixth year DCG class where the time allocation is somewhat below syllabus recommendations, all other TG and DCG class groups are timetabled for an appropriate allocation of time.
Students are given an open choice of optional subjects for both junior and senior cycles. Subject bands are subsequently developed based on studentsí preferences. This is commendable practice as it prioritises the needs of students. There is a very good uptake of the subjects in junior cycle and numbers are increasing in senior cycle. There is a good proportion of girls studying the subject at both junior and senior cycles. It is noted however that the number of girls studying TG at junior cycle has fallen in recent years.
Students receive a good level of support when choosing optional subjects for junior and senior cycles. In particular the subject information booklet that has been developed by the school is very useful; it is comprehensive in detail and student-friendly.
The engineering and construction studies rooms are used for teaching the subjects in the school. The teachers are to be highly commended for the way in which they have integrated the information and communications technology (ICT) facilities for DCG into the engineering room. It is suggested however that, as the subjects grow and develop in the school, the current accommodation will not be sustainable into the future. In this regard it is recommended that school management, in consultation with the subject teachers and the County Dublin Vocational Education Committee, should explore the possibility of creating a designated TG and DCG classroom.
School management has facilitated the subject teachers in attending the in-service organised by the Department of Education and Science through the Technology Subjects Support Service (T4) for the implementation of the new syllabus in DCG. The subject teachers are to be highly commended for participating in additional training organised by the DCG Teachersí Professional Network for the implementation of the new DCG syllabus. 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 work collaboratively and regularly meet to 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 long-term schemes of work that detail the topics that students in each year group cover. They have also developed medium-term schemes of work for each year group that detail the learning outcomes to be achieved by students in each unit of study. The subject teachers also use weekly planners to detail the main area of focus for each lesson. Such level of planning and preparation is to be highly commended. In order to build upon this good practice it is suggested that the subject teachers should develop their medium-term schemes of work to include sections for self-reflection and appraisal for the evaluation of studentsí and class attainment of learning outcomes. This would help to identify class strengths and areas for development. The monitoring of class work, homework and studentsí portfolios should be further utilised for this purpose.
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: models, worksheets, posters, ICT demonstrations and overhead transparencies.
A very good standard of teaching was observed during the inspection. All lessons observed had a clear learning intention that was shared with the students at the beginning of most lessons. All lessons observed had a clearly defined structure. 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 majority of students achieved the desired learning intentions.
A range of teaching methodologies was employed in the lessons visited. In all lessons observed teachers used active learning methodologies to engage students in the subject matter. In some lessons the underlying principle was explored with students before students were asked how to complete each step in the solving of problems set. This is an example of best practice. It is recommended that all teachers should focus on the underlying principles of each problem before progressing to the mechanics of solving problems. In all lessons observed students were encouraged to outline the next step in the completion of problems. This is highly commended. It is suggested, however, that students should be encouraged to explain why each step is taken. This approach helps to develop their understanding of the subject matter as well as providing opportunities for the teacher to assess studentsí understanding.
Teaching aids such as models (3-dimensional solid models and computer-generated models), teacher-technical drawings, board drawings and rendered sketches are used to support studentsí understanding. This is 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. The management of students following the ordinary-level and higher-level courses in senior cycle was very effective. Gathering all students together to explore how an ordinary-level problem might be solved helped to lay the foundation for the higher-level problem on the same topic; this is effective practice.
Classroom discipline was supported by appropriate lesson content and pacing, and by constant movement around the classroom to ensure students were on task and engaged in lesson activities. There was an 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 appropriately affirmed. The engineering room that is used for TG and DCG is a stimulating environment for learning and teaching with numerous wallcharts and some studentsí work on display. While acknowledging that the construction studies room that is used for TG and DCG has some posters and studentsí work on display, it is suggested that the learning environment would be enhanced by a more structured approach to the display of studentsí work.
The majority of students were able to complete the TG and DCG problems set in the lessons observed. In one lesson observed a large number of students made the same mistake in the completion of a drawing. In such instances it is recommended that the class teacher should gain the attention of all students and explore with them the reason for making the mistake.
The quality of studentsí portfolio work varied from student to student and year group to year group. In most instances 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. In some instances students sketch key constructions and principles in ruled A4 copy books. To further promote studentsí skills, it is suggested that plain paged copies be used for this purpose after students have completed first year.
The TG and DCG teachers employ a range of assessment techniques to assess studentsí competence and progress. These techniques include questioning in class, monitoring and checking of studentsí homework and in some instances 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 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 evidence of constructive feedback on drawings in portfolios for some, but not all, class groups. Homework is given and checked on a regular basis. The subject teachers are to be commended for differentiating homework where appropriate. It is recommended that all studentsí portfolios should be checked and formative feedback written on student drawings on a regular basis and that all students should be encouraged to complete all drawings problems set for homework and covered in class. †
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 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 January 2009