Triangles, Shapiro, Pareto and Venn

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.’ ( 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.

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3 thoughts on “Triangles, Shapiro, Pareto and Venn

  1. I would like a visual/picture/photographic example as well. An interactive video would of course, work wonders.
    I understand the gist of your essay is that it is important to prepare/plan-ahead but a more comprehensive and/or demonstrative example of your ‘method’ would be greatly appreciated.

    *Read guide and textbook jotting down: colorful notes (crayons/pastels/pencils)and highlighting important points while simultaneously/intermittently
    *Practice questions from study-guide/past-papers/textbooks
    *Examine/define/address strengths and weaknesses
    *Keep it interesting:
    -Reward yourself after a day of hard work.
    -Use music/art to aide your studies(songs,diagrams and collages)
    -Play word games; use acronyms to make memorization easier
    -Read passages/answers/questions aloud and then explain them to yourself using your own verbatim.
    *Look after yourself
    -weekend get-aways research shows that people who take breaks from work/study and maintain a healthy social-life/appetite/sleep-pattern perform better than addictive workaholics.
    -sleep well the night before the exam.
    -Active as opposed to passive learning. Pay attention to what you are studying(*keep it interesting)

    Ques: The portal has changed considerably; where can I post questions on study-unit material?


  2. Hello Nadia and Tracy,

    Thank you for your comments and for reading this blog! While I cannot add visual tools to the blog I will try to find some visual resources that I can attach.

    Professionally I have used the ‘triangle’ model with one employer to produce a self directed learning tool for staff; in management and facilitation training with another employer we were taught to use Pareto’s Law and Venn’s diagrams to isolate and define ‘problems’ or challenges in interdisciplinary team projects.

    Pareto’s law is the 80/20 rule; for example 80% of sales come from 20% of customers. Venn’s work shows how areas affect each another. Pareto charts and Venn diagrams can be found online by searching those topics.

    What I found with my English studies, like other analysis functions, is I must look at data over a period of time to understand how my ‘plans’ are effective and what lingering issue needs my focus. Thus my triangles.

    Like you I am very visual myself. Self directed learning is complex though rewarding and manageable. Working this way helps me to create a tangible tool and reason through how my efforts can be best improved. Back to Pareto, what effort (20%) will give me the greatest (80%) results?



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