THE IMPLEMENTATION OF SUSTAINED SILENT READING METHOD TO IMPROVE STUDENTS’ READING SKILLS
a research report presented in The National English Language Teachers and Lecturers Conference on the Teaching of English Language Skills and Components held by The Center of Language and Culture, State University of Malang, March 21, 2009
Iqbal Nurul Azhar & Erika Citra Sari Hartanto
Trunojoyo State University
There is no doubt that the teaching and learning English processes in our secondary schools have not achieved the targets as it is hoped. One of the indicators is the big number of the problems faced by many new non-English Department students in many universities to read many textbooks written in English, whereas this ability is very needed to help them study in their campus (Husein Shahab, 2001). Almost all of their books are written in English, and they have to deal with them for years. Without having this skill, the students will not be able to grasp and understand the information stated in the books. If they are reluctant to read the books and prefer to use the internet, they will still find difficulties to obtain the information, since most of the websites and bloggs in the internet are written in English.
The main factors that cause these problems are their limited knowledge of English vocabulary, and their lack understanding of reading skills such as: skimming, making inferences, finding topic sentence and finding main idea. This is quite disappointing since these skills are actually taught in their Junior and Senior High School.
Sending these problematic students to their former Senior High school to restudy English is almost impossible. The best action can be taken to overcome the problems is by providing them with a special English course. This course is usually provided at their first year. The course is sometimes called English for Academic Purposes (EAP) or English for Specific Purposes (ESP). The course is aimed to retrained students with English so that they will not find difficulties when they are dealing with materials written in English. Unfortunately, the limited amount of meetings makes the course quite ineffective. In a semester, the course is only taught 16 times. It means the students only meet their English lecturer once in a week. 2 meetings are dedicated as their progress assessments in the form of UTS (Midterm test) and UAS (Final test), so in general they only have 14 meetings in a semester. Every meeting takes 100 minutes (other universities may have longer or shorter), and the total minutes needed in one semester is 1400 minutes or equal with 24 hours, a very limited time to study English. This limited time provides little benefit to the students. Their English do not improve well and of course, they will find difficulties to obtain sufficient knowledge mentioned in the books written in English.
The limited time of English course will not give much effect for established universities. It happens since these universities receive good qualified input of students. Their freshmen might come from good quality Senior High Schools, and most of them master English quite well. This is totally different from the new established universities or the left behinded universities that receive poor quality input of freshmen. This problematical input will give impacts on their educational process particularly on their future alumni.
The problem also occurs in Trunojoyo State University. As a developing university and has recently joined SPMB (Entrance Test to The State University System)), its input is not as good as the input received by other well established universities. This can be proven by the researchers’ observations of the English quality of 167 new students. The observation was conducted for 11 months from May 2005 to March 2006, at two different faculties. It was found that 55 percent from the total number of the students being observed had very poor English skills particularly in their mastery on vocabulary and text understanding, 25 percent had poor English, 18 percent had average skills in English and only 2 percent had excellent English skills. The indicators were based on their competence in dealing with vocabulary and reading tests in the form of UTS and UAS. It was also found from the observations that there was a class where its students could hardly do the tests that mostly were reading and vocabulary questions, and only 4 students from the class could do the tests well. The rest could only obtain 10 to 45 total score. That was quite disappointing since the questions were actually based on several reading books for beginner level. Quite surprisingly, the similar problem was also experienced by English Department’s students. The students had little confidence to deal with reading questions.
Based on this background, a research was conducted. The research tried to overcome students’ problem dealing with reading skills and vocabulary mastery, using a simple method the-so-called Sustained Silent Reading (SSR). Sustained Sailent Reading is a simple reading method that has been well known and implemented in Australia and other developed countries. Its purpose in general is to give positive impacts to students’ reading progress. Unfortunately, not many institutions have implemented this method in well-structured and systematic way. These include primary schools, secondary schools and even university. Whereas in fact if we compare this method to other methods, SSR is more simple and economical to practice.
The researchers took SSR as the method implemented in reading class because of several considerations; (1) this method is practical and economical. It does not need much effort to prepare or to conduct the research. In this research, at the first meeting of Reading Comprehension I, students were given reading materials that had to be read and finished during the course. The students chose a book as they like and they had to read it in 15 minutes before the lecture started. The book could not be passed to other students since they had to be responsible for the book in one semester. They were also given a reading card that had to be filled after reading the book. The card contained information about the starting reading time, how many pages they had read, were there any difficult words they had encountered during their reading. The card was not used as an assessment tool. It just became a reminder for them about their progress. (2) This method does not disturb students’ activities in the reading classes. During the research, not only the method was peaceful, this method could be used as a way to wait the students that might probably come late. It was hoped that when the SSR activity ended, all students had already been present and sat on their own chair. (3) This method can be used as the Building Knowledge of the Lesson that is a way to brainstorm students’ ideas or mind before they come to the real material. Beside that if there is interesting questions resulted from their reading activities, their questions can be used to enrich the quality of the Reading Comprehension class.
The result of the research is believed to give benefits to society such as: (1) It provides new information for teachers or lectures about various ways that can be used in reading class (2) The successful or the failure result of this research can be used as a recommendation to develop new strategies in teaching Reading Comprehension. (3) If the research successful and gives positive results, the research will have helped the Indonesian Ministry of Education to develop the quality of education in Indonesia. (4) It gives inspiration to other researchers particularly to education researchers to develop their research.
B. REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE
Sustained Silent Reading
Sustained Silent Reading (SSR) is a form of recreational reading activity in classroom, or in another definition, it is a form of voluntary reading activity where a student reads something by his or her heart in a duration of time without being burdened by questions that might come after the reading activities. (www.wilkipedia, 2007). This independent method is not only interesting and challenging but also: can improve students’ reading skills, can provide peaceful reading activity and can give a chance for teachers to give individual guidance. (www.SILinternasional.com)
There are various names given to this method such as: DER (Drop Everything and Read); DIRT time (Daily Individual Reading Time); SQUIRT time (Sustained Quiet Un-Interrupted Reading Time); and FVR (Free Voluntary Reading) (Trelease, 2001)
This method has been implemented for ten years in many schools in Hong Kong by the name of Hong Kong Extensive Reading Scheme (HoKERC). Its main purpose is to help students develop a good habit in reading and to improve their English skills. In this activity, the students read a book by heart. They choose their own book, and they are not asked to answer questions. (Chow, Ping-Ha & Chou, Chi-Ting in the Internet TESL Journal, Vol. VI, No. 11, November 2000)
The definition of Uninterrupted Sustained Silent Reading was firstly introduced in 1960. It was McCracken (1971) who firstly gave the idea and the limitation about the implementation of this method and since then this method has been implemented in many levels of study.
Many earlier research conducted in numerous school stated that SSR gave many good impacts to students’ reading skills. These impacts included the improvement of students’ skills to comprehend the text. Their mastery of vocabulary emerged from their reading test score, and their good attitude towards reading activities.. (Chow, Ping-Ha & Chou, Chi-Ting in The Internet TESL Journal, Vol. VI, No. 11, November 2000)
McCracken’s research also showed positive result. Thousands of students participating in the research gave their comment:
“Students say they like SSR because it is quiet, with many indicating it is the only quite time in their entire day. All kinds of students have responded that they learned to like to read. Poor readers responded that since no one watches them, they can make mistakes without worrying. Able readers say that they are relieved because they do not have to prove that they are bright every time they read something. All respond that they like SSR because they can read what they want to read. (McCraken,1971)
The implementation of this method not only brings positive result but also the negative one. It was found in some cases that the implementation of this method brought negative impacts towards students’ skills in reading. Dwyer and Reed (1989), for instant, reported that the result of their research was failed to give a prove that SSR was good for their students’ reading skills. Their experimental classes showed that their students’ progress declined. The declination lied on their attitude in reading class. There was no difference between the two groups in their affective score.
Herbert’s experiments (1987) were in line with Dwyer and Reed’s. They also showed negative results related to the implementation of SSR. Herbert mentioned that 636 seven-grade students and 9 Suburban Junior High Schools had participated in his research. His respondents, mainly students, gave negative reactions towards the implementation of SSR. They did not like this activity and felt that they did not get much progress when they did the method.
In conclusion, there will be two possibilities that might come out after the SSR method has been implemented. It might be either positive or negative. If this method is implemented in the English Department Trunojoyo State University, the result might support one of these two sides. The result seems so interesting to find out that a research must be conducted.
In general this research was aimed: (1) to know and to analyze whether the SSR gave positive impact towards the improvement of reading students mastery in Vocabulary and in reading skills at English Department Trunojoyo University, and (2) to encourage other researchers to conduct similar research in similar field and give more contribution to Indonesian educational world
C. RESEARCH METHOD
a. Research Design
The research used quantitative method since it involved numbers. It used experimental design to obtain its data. This research was actually a systematical method to answer a question: If an activity is done under a controlled condition, what will happen?
In this research, the researchers tried to manipulate the condition in a group and gave a special treatment to the group. The special treatment was; implementing SSR activities. By doing this, meant that the researchers designed a particular activity (manipulating stimulus) and observed its impacts as the result of the intended manipulated treatment. To obtain a truthful result, the research needed an accurate control. This was to make sure that no external factors got involved in the process of the research ( Syamsuddin & Vismaia, 2006)
b. Variables of Research
There were two variables involved in this research. Those were dependent and independent variable. Dependent variable in this research was students’ mastery in vocabulary and in reading skills while the independent variable of the research was the Sustained Silent Reading Method. The measuring system of the two variables was tests. If students’ tests result in the experimental group were better than the control group, the research would be considered successful.
The research was conducted in Trunojoyo State University with students of English Department as its subject. The subjects of the research were those who were taking Reading Comprehension I. The subjects that would go to the experimental group or the control group were determined randomly by paying attention to the following considerations: (1) The member of the experimental group was equivalent with the member of the control group in number (2) the competence level of the experimental group was equivalent with the control group.
d. Experimental Design.
Fraenkel and Wallen mentions three things that are commonly done in pre-experimental activities, and the researchers adopted their ideas. The ideas are: (a) Single case study. In this phase of the research, the students had not yet divided into groups. The students were given instructions and several treatments to find out their competence in general. These activities were done in a limited time. (b) Pretest. This phase was designed for covering the weaknesses that might appear in the first phase. By doing this phase, the researchers would be able to know the progress of the students. (c) Statical Group Comparation. In this phase, the students were put in different groups. Their position was determined based on several criteria. Half of them would go to the experimental group, and the rest would go to the control group.
The design that used in this research was the Randomized Pretest-Posttest Control Group Design, (McMillan&Schumacher, 2001:335). It can be seen from the chart below:
A 01 X 01
B 03 04
R : determining random samples
A : experimental group
B : control group
O1: pretest for experimental group
O2: posttest for control group
O3: pretest experimental group
O4: posttest for experimental group
X : SSR
The measurement means of the research was pretest and posttest. To make the instrument valid, the questions of the tests had been taken from several trusted books about vocabulary and reading comprehension. By taking the questions from the trusted books, the researchers did not need to validate the questions by ’trying out’ the questions before the experiment started
C. FINDINGS AND DISCUSSIONS
The reserchers used minitab 13 for windows to assist the reserchers to analyze the result of the research. All graffics, calculations, and test interpretations also used this software. The parameter used in the analysis was variance.
The score obtained by the students participating in the research can be seen as follows:
Table 1. Students’ scores
Pretest A Class Pretest B Class Posttest A Class Posttest B Class
48 57 61 73
57 41 57 60
63 51 67 70
39 52 59 71
61 43 66 61
53 43 57 65
63 49 67 57
40 71 42 80
49 45 54 63
46 41 49 68
35 37 62 55
48 73 72 70
55 54 52 68
A Class: Control Group
B Class: Experimental Group
The interpretation of Table 1
There are 52 scores from 22 students that are going to be analyzed using minitab 13. Pretest A Class and Pretest B Class are the first tests done by the students before they were given the treatment. Actually the students participated in the project were more than 26 students. But because of several reasons their score cannot be included in the list. Some of the students from A class (5 students) and from B class (5 students) did not join either pretest or post test, some of them also got very low score for their attendance. The researchers could not tolerate this, and because of this they excluded from the research.
Table 2. The result of Students’ Pretest
The interpretation of Table 2
Based of the table above, it has been found that the competence level of the experimental group is equivalent with the control group. It means that the two groups are equal before the treatment (SSR) given
Table 3. The result of Students’ Posttest
The interpretation of Table 3
Based of the table above, it has been found that the test’s result of B Class (Experimental group) is better than A Class (Control Group). In other words, the experimental class is more superior then the control class. It also proves that the Teaching and Learning method implemented in B class is better than the method implemented in A Class.
D. CONCLUSION AND SUGGESTION
From the result above, it can be concluded that SSR method helps students improve their reading skills. They can be more independent in reading. Through SSR they can study Reading Comprehension subject in a more interesting way. This is very important since it can ease their unconfident in facing many textbooks written in English language.
Although the research have shown positive correlation between SSR and students’ reading skills, but still the researchers found many weaknesses during the research, and because of that, in this part of this article, the researchers want to give their suggestions to the teachers or lecturers who are going to implement this activity. The suggestions are: (1) make sure that the books used in the SSR are suitable for the students, for instance, if the method is going to be implemented in Reading Comprehension I, the instructor must provide many simplified books not the advanced ones (original version). In several cases, the researcher found out that there were some students quitting from reading because of their novel or their book was too difficult for them to read. (2) The instructor has to make sure that all students expected to be the subjects of the research are present in the pretest and the posttest time. (3) Time management is very important in this research, and because of that, the instructor has to be strict in regulating the time, otherwise, it will give bad impact to the real Reading course.
Chow, Ping-Ha & Chou, Chi-Ting. 1999. Evaluating Sustained Silent Reading in Reading Classes. The Internet TESL Journal, Vol. VI, No. 11, November 2000
Dwyer, E.J. & Reed, V. (1989) “Effects of Sustained Silent Reading on Attitudes Toward Reading.” Reading Horizons, 29(4), 283-293
Fraenkel, J.R & Wallen, N.E. 1993. How to Design and Evaluate Research in Education. New York:McGraw-Hill
Herbert, S. (1987) “SSR-What do students think?” Journal of Reading, 30, 651.
Husein Shahab, 2001. http://www.angelfire.com/journal/fsulimelight/baca.html, 14 March 2007
Jim Trelease. 2001. The Read-Aloud Handbook.–. Penguin.
MacMillan, J. & Scumacher, S. 2001. Reseach in Education. New York:Longman
McCracken, R.A. (1971) “Initiating Sustained Silent Reading.” Journal of Reading, 14(8), 521-524, 582-583.
-.-Sustained Silent Reading.www.wilkipedia.com. 13 Maret 2007
Syamsuddin, Dr, Prof. & Damaianti, S, Vismia, Dr. 2006. Metode Penelitian Pendidikan Bahasa. Bandung: Rosda
-.-Using Sustained Silent Reading. http://www.SIL International.com. 16 Maret 1999
Iqbal Nurul Azhar
Iqbal Nurul Azhar was born in Bangkalan, 1981. He got his Bachelor Degree in Linguistics from State University of Malang in 2004. He is now a lecturer at English Department Trunojoyo State University. He teaches Reading Comprehension, Syntax, Sociolinguistics, Semiotics and many other subjects. He did a research (which was funded by DP2M) in education entitled “Pengaruh English Teacher Forum (ETF) Untuk Meningkatkan Kompetensi Guru Bahasa Inggris di Kabupaten Bangkalan. He has presented and published his latest articles in several forums and journals such as “ Ketika Bahasa Madura Tidak Lagi Bersahabat dengan Kertas dan Tinta” in the National Seminar on Bahasa dan Sastra Dalam Berbagai Perspektif, Universitas Negeri Yogyakarta 2008, “Political Language used by female candidate in the Campaign for East Java Governor Election 2008” in the International Conference on Gender and Politics UGM, and “Konstruksi Gender dalam Buku Ajar Muatan Lokal Bahasa Madura” in Prosodi Journal 2008.
Erika Citra Sari Hartanto
Erika Citra Sari Hartanto was born in Tulungagung in 1980. She got her Bachelor Degree in literature from Airlangga University in 2005. Now she is working at English Department Trunojoyo University as a lecturer. She teaches Reading Comprehension, Speaking, Listening Comprehension, Grammar, Poetry and Drama. She did a research entitled “Meningkatkan Minat Belajar Bahasa Inggris Siswa SD Melalui Lagu” and has sent several articles for publication in many journals such as “The Importance of Long Lasting Learning for Teachers.” Now she is pursuing her Master Degree in Literature in Universitas Indonesia Jakarta.