An Roinn Oideachais agus EolaŪochta
Department of Education and Science
Subject Inspection of Technical Graphics and
Design and Communication Graphics
Mary Immaculate Secondary School
Roll number: 62000W
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 Mary Immaculate Secondary School, Lisdoonvarna, County Clare, 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 teacher.
The subjects are offered as part of the Junior and Leaving Certificate programmes. At present DCG does not form part of the programme for Transition Year (TY). It is recommended that the DCG teaching staff should develop a DCG module for TY and that DCG should form part of the programme for TY. All year groups receive an appropriate time allocation for TG and DCG.
Students are given an open choice of optional subjects for junior and senior cycles. Subject bands are subsequently developed based on studentsí preferences. This is to be commended as very good practice. Junior cycle students also follow a short taster programme of the subjects within each band and choose one subject to study from each band. There are also information nights for first-year parents and prospective senior cycle students, the schools guidance counsellor also supports both students and parents when subject choices are being made. Such strategies to support subject choice for students are to be highly commended.
A designated TG and DCG room is used to deliver the subjects. School management is to be highly commended for the significant investment that has been made in the subject to supplement the grants for DCG received from the Department of Education and Science. The room is well equipped to deliver the new DCG syllabus. However, students will require access to an A3 colour printer and a scanner.†
While there is a good uptake among boys there are no girls currently studying the subject in the school. It is recommended that the TG and DCG teaching staff should explore with female students why so few choose not to select the subject for study at junior and senior cycles.
School management has facilitated the TG and DCG teaching staff 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 TG and DCG teaching staff is also 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 teaching staff has developed a 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 teaching staff has developed long-term schemes of work that outline the topics that students in each year group cover. Comprehensive medium-term schemes of work have also been developed for each unit of study. These schemes of work would be enhanced by amending them to highlight the learning outcomes to be achieved by students in each unit of study and by including sections for appraisal and evaluation of studentsí and class attainment of learning outcomes. This helps 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 all lessons observed was very good.
All lessons observed had a clear learning intention that was shared with the students at the beginning of each lesson and had a clearly defined structure. The subject matter and the pace of the lessons observed were appropriate to the particular group.
Teacher-led instruction was the main teaching methodology used in all lessons observed. In most instances the teacher focused on the mechanisms (step-by-step instruction) of solving descriptive geometry problems. In some instances there was some exploration with students as to what the next step in the completion of each drawing problem was. It is recommended that the TG and DCG teaching staff should develop the strategy of exploring the solutions to drawings with students in all lessons. There should be a greater focus not just on what the next step in the completion of drawings is but also on why each step is taken. This will ensure that each student fully understands the principles of descriptive geometry associated with each topic area.
The use of teaching aids that included 3-dimensional solid models and computer-generated models to support studentsí understanding is commended. The strategy of gathering students around a drawing and modelling best practice in relation to draughting and how to solve the drawing problem is also commended. It is suggested that when computer aided design (CAD) drawings are used to model solutions that each set of steps should be layered on the drawing and introduced incrementally and frozen as appropriate so as to reduce the chance of confusion for students was evident in the senior cycle lesson on interpenetration.†
From a review of studentsí portfolios it was clear that, in most topic areas, the aim of each new drawing completed by students is used to extend students knowledge and understanding through the introduction of new principles or the application of principles in more diverse and challenging ways. It is recommended that this strategy be extended to all topic areas, for example, in freehand sketching - students could have been asked to sketch an isometric view of the object from an orthographic projection rather than being continually asked to reproduce a sketch of an isometric drawing.
In all lessons observed the teacher 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 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 affirmed. The TG and DCG room is a stimulating environment for learning and teaching with numerous examples of studentsí work on display.
The majority of students were able to complete the TG and DCG problems in the lessons observed with teacher guidance and support. It is suggested that greater levels of student engagement in the development of their understanding of the key principles associated with each topic would enhance their understanding and learning in each topic.
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 some evidence of formative feedback on some drawings in portfolios for all class groups, in addition there was some evidence of formative feedback on end-of-topic tests. Homework is given on a regular basis for all year groups. It is recommended that all studentsí portfolios should be checked and formative feedback written on studentsí drawings on a more regular basis.
The following are the main strengths identified in the evaluation:
∑ There is an open choice of optional subjects for junior and senior cycles.
∑ All students experience TG as part of a taster programme in first year.
∑ The school has made a significant investment in the facilitates and equipment for DCG
∑ There are comprehensive medium-term schemes of work for each year group.
∑ There was excellent rapport among students and the teacher in all lessons observed.
∑ All lessons observed had a clear learning intention.
∑ 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:
∑ The DCG teaching staff should develop a DCG module for TY and DCG should form part of the programme for TY.
∑ There should be greater focus on the key principles of each topic in the solving of descriptive geometry problems through the exploration with students as to how problems are solved.
∑ All studentsí portfolios should be checked and formative feedback written on studentsí drawings on a more regular basis.
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