By Erni Buharsa
Abstract: This research is designed to improve the students’ reading comprehension in English through TPS strategy. The objective of the research is to develop TPS strategy to improve the students’ reading comprehension. The method applied in this research was a classroom action research. The finding showed that TPS strategy was successful in improving students’ reading comprehension. The improvement could be seen from the increase of students’ reading scores. Besides, the finding also showed that TPS strategy was effective in enhancing the students’ participation, especially in terms of sharing ideas, asking and answering questions.
Key words: TPS strategy, improve, reading comprehension
Reading is an important activity in every language. Reading enables people to find out information from a variety of texts, written or printed information from newspapers, magazines, advertisements, brochures, and so on. According to Djiwandono (1996: 62) reading is an important activity and becomes more important in this modern world, where the development in every life aspect occurs very quickly. As a part of language skills, reading plays an important role for the success of language learning. In reading activity, we are not only reading the text, but also trying to understand what we are reading. Leipzig (2001) stated that reading requires words recognition, comprehension, and fluency. Djiwandono (1996: 63) points out that to understand all types of information in an array of the texts; it requires not only the reading activity, but also ability to understand the content. In addition, he states that without the ability to understand the text content, one is not able to absorb or comprehend a lot of information quickly, accurately, and easily.
Ability or skill of comprehending a message in the text is the goal of reading in a language instruction. However, comprehending a text message is not easy, especially in English. It can be seen from the students’ reading comprehension that is still far from what is being expected. This happens to be case found in MTsN Sanggau where most students still encounter difficulty dealing with English reading texts.
The unsatisfactory result of student’ reading comprehension regarding English texts in MTsN Sanggau might be caused by the following problems. First, students’ vocabulary is not ample. Students are not able to understand texts when they encounter words that have actually been taught or told to them, not to mention if they find new words. Second, teachers tend to emphasize more on students’ reading result, not on the learning process. Teachers usually do not pay attention to the learning process but the result of the learning. Teachers are more concerned with the scores students obtain rather than the process of making students understand. Third, the reading teaching and learning activities is more teacher-centered in a way that the reading instruction is based on what the teachers tell, and students are only required to answer questions, without any sharing ideas or discussions with their pairs or groups. Fourth, the strategy the teachers employ is still conventional, meaning that students sometimes read text silently or aloud, and after that the teacher translates the text for students. In other times, the teacher reads the text, and afterwards, one or two students read the text again prior to answering the questions provided. Fifth, the reading teaching and learning process is sometimes boring, students are not motivated to do it and sometimes keep silent listening to what the teacher is reading. Finally, students are seldom engaged in cooperative and interesting work. Students work competitively and individually which triggers them to give up when dealing with difficult tasks. As a result, they end up feeling bored and unmotivated.
Referring to the problems above, it is essential to implement a method or strategy that can solve the problem, that is, a method that can bring students out of boredom, competitive and individual class atmosphere, and is more student-centered, and that can improve students’ reading comprehension.
There are a variety of strategies to involve and engage students in reading activities. Cooperative learning is one of the strategies. Flowers & Ritz (1994) define cooperative learning as teaching strategy where teams of two or more work together on learning tasks. Each member of the team brings special talents to the group, i.e., concrete or analytical abilities or others. Also other team members cooperate on the achievement of the tasks and learn from each other. As a result, students learn both academic and social skills from a cooperative learning environment. In other words, cooperative learning stresses academic skill of the students or the students’ achievement that clearly defined curricular goals. Furthermore, cooperative learning aims at increasing students’ academic achievement through a good social relationship with one another in a classroom.
Joubert (1997) describes cooperative learning as a structured instructional strategy which emphasizes active learning through interpersonal interaction, where students act as partners with the teacher and each other. The role players in cooperative learning are therefore teacher and students.
Furthermore, the results of using Cooperative Learning strategy show that students who have opportunities to improve academic performance, lead to great motivation toward learning, to increase time on task, to improve self-esteem, and to lead to more positive social behaviors (Yahya & Huie, 2006).
From various benefits of cooperative learning for students, this study, therefore, proposes to improve students’ reading comprehension by using cooperative learning strategy. Among a number of cooperative learning strategies, Think- Pair- Share is chosen to be applied in the classroom to improve students’ reading comprehension. Think-Pair-Share is a strategy developed by Lyman and associates (1985) to provide students with “food for thought” on given topics, enabling them to formulate individual ideas and share these ideas with another student (Instructional Strategies Online: 2004).
TPS strategy includes three steps, namely, thinking, pairing, and sharing (Lyman, in Arends: 1997). In the thinking step the teacher poses a question or issue associated with the lesson and asks students to spend a minute thinking alone about the answer or the issue. Students need to be taught that talking or walking about is not part of thinking time. In the pairing step the teacher asks students to pair off and discuss what they have been thinking about. Interaction during this period could be sharing answers if a question is posed or sharing ideas if a specific issue is identified. Normally, teachers would allow no more than 4 or 5 minutes for pairing. In the sharing step the teacher asks the pairs to share with the whole class what they have been talking about. It is effective to simply go around the room from pair to pair and continue until about a fourth or a half of the pairs have had a chance to report.
Furthermore, there are several advantages of using Think-Pair-Share strategy as stated in Instructional Strategies Online (2004). With Think-Pair-Share students are given time to think through their own answers to the question(s) before the questions are answered by other peers and the discussion moves on. Students also have the opportunity to think aloud with another student about their responses before being asked to share their ideas publicly. This strategy provides an opportunity for all students to share their thinking with at least one other student; this, in turn, increases their sense of involvement in classroom learning. As a Cooperative Learning strategy, Think-Pair-Share also benefits students in areas of peer acceptance, peer support, academic achievement, self-esteem, and increased interest in other students and school.
Considering the benefits of Think-Pair-Share strategy, the researcher is interested in applying this strategy to improve the students’ reading comprehension at MTsN Sanggau by conducting Classroom Action Research.
The design of this research was Classroom Action Research (CAR) since this research was focused on the teaching and learning activities in the classroom. This action was designed to improve the students’ reading comprehension through TPS strategy. The classroom action research design of this study was a collaborative classroom action research in which the researcher was assisted by one of the English teachers of MTs N Sanggau.
In conducting the research, the researcher followed a number of steps. The steps included preliminary study prior to analyzing and identifying problems as the preparation, followed by cyclical process – action planning, plan implementing, observing, and reflecting (Kemmis & Taggart, 1988:15).
In the planning stage, the researcher and his collaborator made a careful action preparation prior to the implementation of the action based on the result of the preliminary study. The preparation consisted of designing a suitable model of TPS strategy and the lesson plans for teaching reading, developing the materials and media and determining the success criteria. The success criteria encompassed (1) The students’ reading comprehension improves. The improvement intended was that at least 60% of the students should reach the score of 60 in their reading comprehension. (2)The students were actively involved during the teaching and learning process. It was marked by the students’ activities and performances in sharing ideas, answering questions and asking questions.
In the implementation stage, the plan regarding with the teaching and learning of reading through TPS strategy was implemented after all of the preparations had been made. In implementing the action, it was decided that the researcher acted as the implementer of TPS strategy in teaching reading whereas his collaborator played a role as the observer whose job was conducting the observation during the teaching and learning process.
In the observation stage, the data gathering using reading quizzes in addition to observation checklist, field notes and questionnaire were carried out. The data gained from these instruments were used to confirm whether the success criteria were conformed or not. Besides, they were also used to identify facets of the strategy that needed to be modified in the subsequent plan.
In the reflection stage, the researcher made two kinds of conclusion, the each cycle-based conclusion and the final conclusion. The conclusion of each cycle was made to determine whether or not another cycle was needed while the final conclusion was made to describe the model of teaching reading using TPS strategy that had been improved.
Based on the result of students’ quizzes, it is found out that the students’ reading comprehension was gradually improving. It means that there was a positive impact of Think-Pair-Share strategy toward the increase of students’ ability in answering the quiz based on the reading text. In other words, the use of Think-Pair-Share strategy could increasingly help and motivate them to learn for better text understanding. Thus, most of them gradually gained good scores at the end of each cycle, most significantly in Cycle 3. In the reading comprehension test, only one (3.33%) out of thirty students got 60, in the first quiz, four students (13.33%) got 60 or more, in the second quiz sixteen (53.33%) students gained 60 or more, and twenty six students (86.67%) got score 60 or more.
Besides, the finding also showed that TPS strategy was effective in enhancing the students’ participation, especially in terms of shared ideas, asked and answered questions during the teaching and learning process. In connection with sharing ideas, there were 5 students, 8 students, and 11 students in the first, second, and third cycle respectively. There were 11 students, 17 students, and 23 students who asked questions in the first, second, and third cycle, whereas in answering questions, there were 5 students, 10 students, 11 students successively active in the first, second, and third cycle.
Furthermore, the result of questionnaire revealed that (1) students like to study reading comprehension using Think-Pair-Share strategy (90% students), (2) TPS helped students improve students’ reading comprehension (83.33%), (3) TPS helped students share ideas with others (73.33%), (4) TPS helped students improve their ability in answering the question (90%), (5) TPS helped students improve their ability to ask questions (83.33%), (6) TPS needed to be continuously applied in reading comprehension lesson (66.67%), and (7) TPS did not burden the students in reading comprehension activities (80%).
In addition, the research finding yielded the final procedures of Think-Pair-Share Strategy in teaching reading which divided into three phases. The first phase was pre- activities; (1) showing pictures to the students and asking some oral questions related to the pictures, (2) asking the students to predict what the topic will be discussed, (3) asking the students to mention words that might be used in the text and writing the words predicted on the board. The second phases was whilst- activities; (1) asking the students to read the text silently, (2) giving a model on how to read the text and asking the students to repeat and underline the difficult words, (3) clarifying the meaning of difficult words, (4) explaining the content of the text, (5) giving time to students for asking something that they still don’t understand, (6) asking the students to answer yes-no questions orally, (7) explaining the steps and activities the students will do in this reading class, (8) asking the students to answer comprehension questions individually and circulating and providing assistance if needed, (9) assigning the students to sit in pairs, (10) asking the pairs to discuss of the comprehension questions and encouraging the students to help each other, monitoring and providing assistance if necessary, (11) asking the pairs to report their answer. The third phase was post –activities; (1) rechecking the students’ answers, (2) writing down the right answers on the board, and (3) making conclusions of the topic and closing the class.
Think-Pair-Share is a cooperative learning strategy that is effective in changing the discourse pattern in classroom. It challenges the assumption that all recitations or discussions need to be held in whole-group settings, and it has built-in procedures for giving students more time to think, to respond, and to help each other (Arends, 1997). Besides, it encourages individual participation and is applicable across all grade levels and class sizes in addition to being helpful in organizing students’ knowledge and motivating in learning new topics. As one of the cooperative learning strategies, Think-Pair-Share strategy encourages students to work collaboratively faster and more efficiently, have greater retention, and feel more positive about the learning experience (Newhorizon.org, 2005).
The result of the research using Think-Pair-Share strategy indicated that there was an increase in students’ average scores, from 39.33 in the first quiz, 57.00 in the second quiz and 76.00 in the third quiz. Besides, the number of students who got 60 or more was also increased, from four students (13.33%) in the first quiz, sixteen (53.33%) students in the second quiz, to twenty six students (86.67%) in the third quiz.
Besides, the result of the study using TPS strategy showed that the students’ active participation was increased. The number of students shared, asked and answered questions was increased. This occurred since the strategy encouraged students to share ideas, asking questions as well as answering questions between pairs. Thus, simultaneous interactions between pairs and among class were apparent.
The success of the implementation of Think-Pair-Share strategy that had been proven to improve the students’ reading comprehension as well as enhancing students’ participation in terms of sharing ideas, asking and answering the questions was closely related to the role of the teacher. The teacher did not only involve in designing lesson plan, preparing the materials as well as the media but also in developing the procedures of Think-Pair-Share strategy that ultimately resulted in the increase of students’ reading comprehension scores and participation. Thus, the teacher’s role was definitely crucial for the successful implementation of the strategy. It was proven when the teacher developed the Think-Pair-Share strategy. Although the main core of Think-Pair-Share strategy was in the whilst-reading activities, the teacher did not only revise the strategy in whilst-reading activities, but also in pre-reading activities and post-reading activities, because the whole procedures of Think-Pair-Share strategy are conducted into three phases; pre-reading activities, whilst-reading activities and post-reading activities.
CONCLUSION AND SUGGESTION
After the Think-Pair-Share strategy was implemented and developed through three cycles, it is concluded that this strategy can to improve or progress students’ reading comprehension of the second year students of MTs N Sanggau. Moreover, students were active in the class using TPS strategy in terms of sharing ideas, asking and answering questions. In addition, the students’ opinions toward the implementation of TPS strategy were positive.
After the TPS strategy was implemented and developed through three cycles, it is concluded that the appropriate model of strategy using TPS strategy in teaching reading encompasses the following procedure, the first phase was pre- activities; (1) showing pictures to the students and asking some oral questions related to the pictures, (2) asking the students to predict what the topic will be discussed, (3) asking the students to mention words that might be used in the text and writing the words predicted on the board. The second phases was whilst- activities; (1) asking the students to read the text silently, (2) giving a model on how to read the text and asking the students to repeat and underline the difficult words, (3) clarifying the meaning of difficult words, (4) explaining the content of the text, (5) giving time to students for asking something that they still don’t understand, (6) asking the students to answer yes-no questions orally, (7) explaining the steps and activities the students will do in this reading class, (8) asking the students to answer comprehension questions individually and circulating and providing assistance if needed, (9) assigning the students to sit in pairs, (10) asking the pairs to discuss of the comprehension questions and encouraging the students to help each other, monitoring and providing assistance if necessary, (11) asking the pairs to report their answer. The third phase was post –activities; (1) rechecking the students’ answers, (2) writing down the right answers on the board, and (3) making conclusions of the topic and closing the class.
TPS strategy has been proven to improve the students’ reading comprehension especially low achievers in addition to enhancing students’ motivation and participation, particularly in terms of sharing ideas, asking and answering questions.. However, this success will not be reached if teachers have no willingness to bother themselves preparing the media and materials in using the strategy. Therefore, it is first suggested to the English teachers to change their mindset about teaching. Teaching does not only mean coming to class and teaching the students the way it is, but teaching also means that teachers should prepare all the right things i.e. strategy, media, material to teach their students. By having willingness to teach and trouble themselves in the teaching preparation, even a simple strategy, such as TPS can prove to yield benefits. In relation to the effectiveness of the implementation of the TPS strategy in teaching reading comprehension, it is suggested that the English teachers, particularly those who have similar situation where the students fall into low achievers category, to apply the TPS strategy. Besides being effective in improving students’ reading comprehension, the TPS strategy is also essential in encouraging and motivating students to read and work together in pairs. Furthermore, the teachers should consider the principles of TPS so as to reach the expected outcome.