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Stimulating Students’ Autonomy in Writing through Weekly Reports



CHAPTER I

INTRODUCTION

            This chapter deals with background, problem statement, objective, significance and the scope of the research.
A.      Background
There are four skills need to be mastered in language learning. Those are listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Writing as a productive skill plays important role in communication since not all the language users can express their idea orally. Nunan (1991: 35) states that all children, except those with physiological disabilities, learn to comprehend and speak their native language. Not all of them learn to read. Fewer still learn how to write fluently and legibly. That is why, students have to be taught how to write effectively.
However, writing for most of language learners is one skill of language that is difficult to learn. According to Byrne in Basiru (2005), there are two causes for this. The first is psychological problem. In writing, we are required to write on our own without any possibility of interaction or the benefit of feedback. This is itself makes the act of writing difficult. The other factor is cognitive problem.  To make good writing that can be understood well by the reader, we need to master the written form of language, such as the use of cohesion, punctuation, organizing idea, etc.
Even though writing is difficult, like the other skills it is also can  be learned. By applying good teaching technique, teacher can help students to be good writer. Nevertheless, applying a good technique in teaching writing does not always show success. Some students are just motivated to study under the teacher guidance.  It becomes a problem because frequently writing is relegated to the status of homework (Harmer, 1991: 24).
Helping students to make good writing needs time. Even though English has become one subject which is taught as a compulsory subject in schools, the time for teacher and students to spend in the classroom is limited. Considering this fact, it is important to stimulate the students to study autonomously. So that, they can be more independent and active in their own learning.
Condition of the students that is described above shows that autonomous learning is becoming more important nowadays. Holec (1981: 3) states that autonomy can be described as the ability of learners to take charge of their learning. From the opinion, we can say that in autonomy, learners should have skill and be able to stand on their own feet. Nevertheless, it does not mean that the learners do not need the role of the teacher. However, the role of the teacher as a facilitator is still needed, but the learners should minimize their dependence on their teacher.
The teachers as facilitators and motivators have to find out the way to make their students be autonomous. ”Teachers can help students to take responsibility for their learning by providing opportunities and strategies for learning independently and by encouraging them initiate and actively participate in their own learning” (Kesten, 1987). It can be stated that in stimulating students’ autonomy, the teacher still has role.
There are several activities and techniques that can be used as a media to stimulate students’ autonomy. The first activity is self-report which is suggested by Wenden (1998: 79-95). Self-report is a way to get information on how students approach a learning task and help them aware of their own strategies. There are two types of self-report; introspective self-report and retrospective self-report. Introspective self-reports are assumed to provide student opportunity to introspective on their learning and strategies they are using. However, it has one weakness; the concentration put on thinking aloud might decrease learners’ ability to do the task efficiently, thus giving the outcome of the report false and temporarily thing. Retrospective self-report does not have limit for students to give response to a question or statement that points to a topic in general way. Retrospective self-reports have two types; semi structures interview which may focus on a specific skill with view to extracting information about learners feeling toward particular skill (reading, listening, etc.) and structured questionnaires which seeks the same information but in different way, by giving explicit questions and statements, and then asking learners to agree or disagree, write true or false, and so on.
The second activity is tuning in which is suggested by Scharle and Szabo (2000). This activity has main goals in focused listening and identifying difficulties. It used for intermediate level. Its language focus is stress, intonation, and pronunciation. Usually what the teachers will prepare is tape recorder speech or dialogue from text book. This activity helps students distinguish their problem with listening. Also setting a double task may help some students to focus their attention better.
The third activity is writing diaries which suggested by Thanasoulas (2006). Alongside diaries students can also benefit from putting pen to paper and writing on their expectations of a course at the beginning of the term, then reporting on the outcomes of a course at the end of the term (Thanasoulas, 2006). So, it seems that these activities are bound to help learners put things into perspective and manage their learning effectively.
Then another activity is weekly-report which suggested by Husain (2003). Husain (2003: 102) states weekly report as record of work which can encourage learners to report whether they study in self-access learning center, in laboratory, or in computer using internet, and how many times they have studied there. Weekly report was used as media for taking data of the effectiveness interdependent approach in learners’ way to learn autonomously.
The writer chooses the fourth activity because by using weekly report, students are given an opportunity to reflect on their new knowledge, ask questions about unclear ideas, and explore the value of question asking itself. In addition, “weekly report can be a way to encourage learner reflecting on their own knowledge, to organize their ideas in preparation for instruction, and to prepare for exams and review sessions” (Etkina, 1999). It can be stated that by using weekly report, the students can be aware of what they have found in the class, conveying their ideas toward the particular subject, telling about difficulties and problems that they face in studying. 
Based on the illustration above, the writer would conduct a research under the title “Stimulating Students’ Autonomy in Writing through Weekly Reports”.


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