An Roinn Oideachais agus Eolaíochta
Department of Education and Science
Subject Inspection of Technical Graphics
Design and Communication Graphics and Technical Drawing
Coláiste Phobail Ros Cré
Roll No: 76069P
Date of inspection: 24 January 2008
Report on the Quality of Learning and Teaching in
Technical graphics, Design and communication graphics and technical drawing
This report has been written following a subject inspection in Coláiste Phobail Ros Cré 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, Design and Communication Graphics and 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 teachers’ 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), Design and Communication Graphics (DCG) and Technical Drawing (TD) are optional junior and senior cycle subjects in Coláiste Phobail Ros Cré.
First year students study TG as part of a year-long 'taster' programme and make their final optional subject choices for Junior Certificate at the end of the first year. In addition to providing direct experience of all the subjects available to them, the school supports students in making informed choices by providing an information evening for parents, support from subject teachers, the year heads, the guidance counsellor and the senior management team. Students entering senior cycle are similarly supported and are offered an open choice of available optional subjects. Option bands based on students' choices are subsequently developed. A half-year drawing module forms part of the school's Transition Year (TY) programme and this affords students the opportunity to sample drawing prior to making subject choices for Leaving Certificate. These arrangements are generally commended.
All TG, DCG and TD classes are of mixed ability and comprise mainly boys. In light of this gender imbalance it is recommended that the school examine ways to promote the subjects among junior and senior students and to encourage and enable more girls to study them.
Time allocation for TG in second and third year, for drawing in TY and for DCG and TD in fifth and sixth years respectively is appropriate and the allocation of double and single class periods to the subjects also reflects good practice. Because of the duration of the 'taster' programme the overall time allocation to TG over the three years of junior cycle is inadequate and it is recommended therefore, that arrangements to address this shortfall should be examined by the school as a priority.
TG, DCG and TD teachers have attended in-service related to the new DCG syllabus provided by the Technology Subjects Support Service (T4) over the past two years and this is commended.
Following the introduction of DCG in September 2007 it is recommended, where possible, that teachers should be timetabled for both junior and senior cycle in future years in order to ensure that they develop and maintain their specialist teaching skills and are in a position to contribute meaningfully to subject department discussion of all the subjects.
TG, DCG and TD are currently taught in two rooms, used almost exclusively for the delivery of the subjects. Both rooms are relatively large, well-appointed and equipped. The rooms are decorated with colourful wall charts and examples of students work and this is commended.
Coláiste Phobail Ros Cré has a technology subjects department and the TG/DCG /TD department is a sub-group of this department. A co-ordinator has been appointed but teachers share the responsibilities associated with co-ordination of the subjects and this ensures that all gain experience of the role of co-ordinator. The subject department meets formally at the beginning of the school year and opportunities for additional meetings are provided during the year. Records of meetings are kept and reports are made to the senior management team on subject-related issues when necessary. Formal meetings are supplemented by frequent informal meetings. These arrangements are commended.
Teachers have developed their own individual TG, DCG and TD subject planning documentation and this is commended. In order to build on this it is recommended that a comprehensive TG/DCG/TD subject plan be developed collaboratively by the subject department. This plan should contain the syllabus documents, aims and objectives and programmes of work for each year group in each subject area. Additional sections on time allocation, optional subject choices, formation of class groups, students with special educational needs, health and safety, resources, assessment and homework procedures, promoting the subjects, addressing the gender imbalance, descriptors for the first year 'taster' and TY drawing programmes, planning for the changing circumstances in senior cycle should also be included and a review process should also be detailed.
A range of TG, DCG and TD resources has been developed by teachers in the school and these resources are used to support teaching and learning. Additional resources may be accessed following consultation with the principal when required and this arrangement works effectively.
Planning for the development of the school's information and communication technologies (ICT) facilities to support drawing has been undertaken and one of the drawing rooms is currently being developed as an ICT room for drawing. This work will be completed during the course of the current school year and all students of drawing will then have access to appropriate computer hardware and software.
Good teaching of TG and TD were observed during the inspection.
TG, DCG and TD lessons had clear aims and objectives and were suitable for the stage of the programme. Lessons were structured to ensure continuity and progression through the syllabuses and all activities were well-managed. An appropriately ordered learning environment was created in all lessons. This practice is commended.
Class groups in TG, DCG and TD are mixed ability in nature and teachers differentiated lesson aims and objectives to meet the needs of individual students. This practice is commended.
Teachers employed suitable methodologies during the lessons observed and a range of strategies was used. The problem-solving nature of TG, DCG and TD was emphasised and high standards of draughting were also being promoted. This approach is commended.
An integrated approach to lesson presentation that emphasised the visual nature of the subject was adopted and teachers made excellent use of chalkboards to support students' learning. This is commended. When ICT was used in teaching it was particularly impressive in reflecting the technological nature of the subjects and this approach is also commended. It is recommended that the good practice associated with the use of ICT be extended, as appropriate, to teaching and learning in all TG, DCG and TD lessons.
Students' learning was effectively scaffolded when teachers demonstrated TG, DCG and TD principles and skills incrementally to whole class groups, to smaller groups, and to individual students. This is commended as good practice.
Teachers used and emphasised the terminology associated with the subjects when they spoke during lessons and this allowed students to listen to instructions concerning the development of diagrams and to assimilate subject-specific terminology while working on their own drawings. This practice enhanced both teaching and learning and is highly commended.
A commendable variety of individual and group questions, including higher order questions, was used during lessons.
Examination techniques were discussed and tips were given in Junior and Leaving Certificate classes and key principles that would assist students during examinations were outlined. This practice is commended.
Geometric charts, examples of students' drawings, a selection of geometric models and computer-generated drawings were displayed in the rooms and these helped to create a visually rich environment which supported students' learning.
Three-dimensional models, computer modelling and other stimulating materials related to the topics were used during lessons and promoted students’ development from concrete experience to abstract representation. This is an essential element of the teaching and learning processes in TG, DCG and TD and the practice is highly commended.
Textbooks are prescribed for the subjects and were used, but not overly relied upon, during some of the lessons observed. Rather, texts were used as a resource for students in the completion of class and homework. Examination workbooks and other handout materials were also used to supplement texts and were integrated effectively into lessons.
During lessons teachers moved around the drawing rooms and engaged with individual students. Progress in the completion of classroom tasks was assessed during interactions with students and teachers also provided assistance to individual students when this was required. This practice is commended.
The drawing rooms were very well organised and classroom routines were evident during all lessons evaluated. These routines promoted responsibility for creating an ordered learning environment among students and are commended.
Students displayed the quality of their understanding of topics in the competencies exhibited during the completion of drawing tasks and in their ability to ask and answer questions during lessons. Students used conventional 450 and 600 set squares, protractors, compasses and pencils at the drawing board when making drawings and these were of a standard consistent with the range of abilities in the classes. In an effort to enhance the quality of students' draughting and it is recommended that adjustable set squares and micro-pencils be used with all year groups in future.
Homework was a feature of all lessons and this helped to ensure continuity with previous and future lessons.
The content of TD students’ portfolios was appropriate and drawings already completed displayed the competencies associated with syllabus topics. Best practice in respect of assessment of and for learning was observed when teachers graded and commented on the quality of students' drawings, produced during lessons or as homework. This practice should be extended to all TG, DCG and TD lessons.
Opportunities for independent and collaborative learning were included in all lessons observed.
Students communicated effectively with their peers and teachers using TG and TD terminology. This is commended.
An excellent teacher-student rapport was evident during all lessons evaluated. This created an atmosphere where students enthusiastically engaged with lesson activities and received appropriate affirmation.
First, second and fifth year TG and DCG students sit Christmas and end-of-year examinations. Junior Certificate and Leaving Certificate TG and TD students also sit examinations prior to Christmas and a mock examination in the second term each year. The results of assessments are recorded systematically and used to identify trends in students' achievement, to inform future teaching strategies and to address the needs of individual learners. These practices are commended.
Best practice in respect of assessment of students' drawings, completed during lessons or as homework assignments, was observed where students' work was routinely marked, graded and commented on and it is recommended that this practice be extended to all classes.
Students' drawings are retained in portfolios in the school or sometimes students bring their completed drawings home. In order to promote and enhance the current standards of draughting and problem-solving among students it is recommended that a percentage of marks in end-of-term and end-of-year assignments be allocated to these drawing portfolios.
The nature of students’ progress in TG, DCG and TD is communicated to parents by means of school reports, through the student's journal and during parent-teacher meetings. Further contact may be organised should the need arise.
Students displayed a high level of enthusiasm for the subjects during the inspection and their subject-specific knowledge and skills, relative to age and ability, were appropriate.
The following are the main strengths identified in the evaluation:
· The TG, DCG and TD department is part of the school's technology subjects department.
· Individual teachers have developed TG/TD/DCG plans and these are being implemented.
· Provision for TG, DCG and TD in the school is good.
· Good teaching was observed during the evaluation.
· Problem-solving and draughting were being promoted in tandem.
· Traditional methodologies were employed during lessons and excellent use was made of ICT during some lessons
· Students exhibited a range of levels of subject-specific knowledge and skills consistent with the range of abilities in classes observed during the evaluation.
As a means of building on these strengths and to address areas for development, the following key recommendations are made:
· Ways to promote greater uptake of TG, DCG and TD, especially among girls, should be examined.
· The overall time allocation for TG in junior cycle should be reviewed in light of the year-long 'taster' programme in first year.
· Efforts to enhance students’ problem-solving and draughting skills in TG, DCG and TD should continually be made.
Post-evaluation meetings were held with the teachers of Technical Graphics, Design and Communication Graphics and Technical Drawing and with the principal at the conclusion of the evaluation when the draft findings and recommendations of the evaluation were presented and discussed.
Published September 2008