This week I decided to share my triangle and diagram strategy for testing goals and study methods. My triangle is not something I invented; it is an established professional development model. I use it with Pareto’s rule and Venn diagrams. For me they form a useful tool for planning, time and goal management, and improving results. This model is one way I organize study strategies and test my results. Ronald Shapiro wrote a wonderful book called ‘DARE TO PREPARE; How to Win Before You Begin.’ (http://www.daretopreparebook.com) His nuggets of wisdom include the relationship between planning and evaluating and achieving objectives. My triangles and diagrams help me plan and evaluate my efforts through the term.
When approaching the term or study units I establish long, mid and short-term goals then begin working with my triangle. A long-term goal might be advanced studies or analyzing an exam question; a mid-term goal could be improved exam marks and short terms goals might include selecting reading material or writing an essay. Any goal can be managed by using the three ‘strategic corners.’
Analyzing the strategic corners is productive for establishing goals and evaluating progress during the term; one corner of my triangle is labeled ‘confidence,’ one is ‘challenge,’ and one is ‘coaching.’ If writing a first class paper at exam time is the goal it goes in my ‘challenge corner.’ I assess things like have I ever written a first class paper? Can I articulate the criteria for an academic essay and state the requirements for a first class paper? Do my papers reflect those criteria? Do I study with those criteria in mind? What are my three biggest challenges with exam essays? My ‘confidence corner’ itemizes my strengths; for example strong knowledge about a literary period or skills with an aspect of literary studies. My ‘coaching corner’ lists resources like the Student Handbook, Essay Marking Scheme, writing exercises or note taking strategies. The strategic corners provide data; good decision-making requires analysis and analysis requires data.
My ‘Triangle Test’ produces data; Pareto’s law and Venn diagrams show me relationships between data sets and where to concentrate my efforts. During the term the data in my ‘strategic corners’ change; observing this process makes the analysis required for my decision-making, planning, monitoring, and improvement goals possible. I use this model all year to assess broad goals like performing in advanced studies or precise ones like what to read during the term. For example, my triangles and diagrams helped me to clarify more precise and comprehensive content in exam essays is needed. I read widely and wrote two first class papers on Medieval and Renaissance texts. My marks indicate a flair for text analysis. My goal of writing a first class exam paper this term will be best served by reading Medieval and Renaissance units, a focus on text analysis and altering my note taking, writing and revision schedule. The biggest thing I learned is Ronald Shapiro is right; planning is essential to learning and success.