Amongthe main four language skills, reading is of vital importance. It is areceptive skill that enables learners to receive a significant comprehensibleinput. Such an input can be used later on in writing and speaking. Li and Zang(2016) state that reading is a fundamental means of enhancing students’learning the language. Based on School Based Curriculum (KurikulumTingkat Satuan Pendidikan/KTSP),the objective of teaching reading for the second grade is to enable the students to construct meaning fromtext. Basically, it is the same ascomprehensionof the reading text. The students are expected to be able to identify the aspects such as identifyingmain idea, explicit and implicit specificinformation,reference, word meaning, phrase and sentence of short simple essay.
It means that after finishing from juniorhigh school, the students are expected tobegood at comprehending the reading text suitable to their level of the passing grade standard (StandarKompetensi Kelulusan/SKL) of juniorhigh school for readingskill. The difficulties that students getin comprehending reading text shows that the studentsdo not know which strategies is suitable fortheirreading. Therefore, the teacher should find an appropriate strategy in order to improve their reading skill andreading comprehension. One of the strategy that isappropriate to improve students’ reading comprehension is Schema Based Strategy especially graphic organizers.
Understanding the role of schema inthe reading process provides deep perceptionwhystudents may fail to comprehend text material. When students are familiar with the topic of the text they arereading (i.e. possess content schema), aware of thediscourse level and structural make-up of the genre of the text (i.e.
possess formal schema), and skillful in thedecoding features needed to recognize wordsandrecognize how they fit together in a sentence (i.e. possess language schema), they are in a better position tocomprehend their reading assignment. Research on reading comprehensionindicates that readers rely on their prior knowledge and world experience whentrying to comprehend a text. It is this organized knowledge that is referred toas schema.
The learner’s existing schemata, which are integrated structures ofknowledge about a given topic, play a critical role in new learning. Schematainclude underlying objects, situations, events, actions, and sequences ofactions for use in interpreting new experiences. Schema theory is an importantconcept directly related to interactive views of the reading comprehensionprocess that has had a major impact on both reading research and instruction. Apowerful feature of schema theory is that it helps to better understand how newlearning is integrated with the knowledge an individual already possesses. Researchon schema theory and reading comprehension indicates that the task of teachingreading becomes helping students build the appropriate background knowledgethey need, and teaching them that reading is an interactive process ofactivating prior knowledge with textual input in order to build new knowledge. Zhao and Zhu (2012) state thatschema theory is effectively in developing students’ reading skills andimproving their reading abilities. Similarly, schema-based techniques haveproved very effective in developing learners’ reading skills as many studieshave shown (Bottomley and Osborn, 1993; Ciardiello, 1998; Lysynchuk, 1989;Odafe, 1998; Palincsar, 1987).
The purpose of such a process is to help studentacquire a reading schema that emphasizes the reader’s purposes and the dynamicinteraction between reader and the printed page. Basic to this process is alsothe point that meaning does not lie “in text” and that what students alreadyknow will affect what they can come to know. One of the first steps in this studywas defining reading comprehension as the way students get the required information from a passage whichhas to be done as efficiently as possible. Osborne (2010) sees students’ major reading problem arising when theyare so worried about understanding every single word of a text they are reading that they do not get thegeneral idea from the passage. Middle school ESL learners may also struggle in other areas while comprehending apassage. Firstly, while they may be good at recognizing and pronouncing the words, they struggle to understandthe central theme of the passage. They read a passage in bits and pieces andfail to connect the ideas. This resultsin fragmentary understanding.
Next, they fail to follow the schemata while reading. They fail to identify themain idea of a passage and how it is developed in the body paragraphs. Using a graphic organizer, they learn theskill of classifying information of a passage under a schema. Once they master this skill, they can divide thepassage into different lexias such as main idea, supporting details,topic sentences, data,fact, opinion, etc. Tomlinson (1999) explains thatteachers can modify three aspects of teaching: Content, Process, and Product.By using graphic organizers, teachersmodify the product.
It is a universal fact that students in a class are notlikely to learn to read at the same rate.Some will learn faster than others, and some will be able to demonstrate their understanding in more complex wayssooner than others. For all children to learn at an optimal pace, teachers must match children with areinforcing activity that allows each child to be successful in readingcomprehension ata cognitively appropriate level. According to Kintsch and Rawson (2005),comprehension skills aided by graphicorganizers help a reader develop his/her reading abilities.
Therefore, incorporatinggraphic organizers in readingcomprehension helps middle school ESL students in developing theircomprehension skills. Learning through visuals helpsstudents in comprehending passages more effectively than other reading strategies like skimming, scanning,note making, etc. According to Slavin R. E. (2011), research in pedagogy and psychology demonstrates that visuallearning is among the most effective methods for teaching comprehension skills to students of all ages.Helping students organize the content helps them better comprehend texts for information such as main ideassupporting details, facts, opinions, comparisons and contradictions. According to Keene and Zimmerman(1997), students must be encouraged to make connections with the text they read to increase theeffectiveness of reading.
Graphic organizers can play a vital role establishingthe connections. The text will be veryclear to students when a graphic organizer is incorporated depicting the theme or content of a text they read.Moreover, graphic organizers using diagrams illustrate concepts andrelationships betweenconcepts discussed in a text. Despite the appeal of using graphicorganizers as a technique for assisting reading comprehension, critical response from research is mixed.Some research on graphic organizers has produced incongruent findings and has raised questions about theiroverall effectiveness in reading instruction (Jiang & Grabe, 2007). Anotherissue relating to graphic organizers liesin the wide range of understandings of what a graphic organizer is and how it should be designed for research orinstructional purposes. Previous research has investigatedthe effects of prior knowledge on comprehension, and has found it to be an importantindividual differences factor in the ability to generate inferences and maintain local and global coherence(O’Reilly & McNamara, 2007), the ability organize the mental representation of the text (Rawson&Kintsch, 2004) and generally improves comprehension (Shapiro, 2004).
Studies that haveprovided readers with background knowledge prior to readinghavealso found benefits of prior knowledge on comprehension (Rawson &Kintsch,ibid). Extant textcomprehension theories also assume that prior knowledge is used to complete,and enrich, the reader’smental representation of the text (Rapp & van den Broek, 2005). Theimportance of prior knowledgein comprehension is indisputable, however the relative contributions of varioustypes or characteristics of prior knowledgehave not been studied. Therefore, one of the goal of this study is to begin investigate the effects ofqualitatively prior knowledge on comprehension product.
Onthe other hand, out of all of the research-proven instructional strategies usedin the classroom to help students learn,the use of some instructional strategies such as graphic organizer stand out the most (Marzano,Pickering, & Pollock, 2001). These instructional methods create an instructional strategy that helpsstudents identify similarities and differences in the information they are presented within theirclassrooms. Clarke(1990) defines graphic organizers as: “Words on paper, arranged to represent an individual’s understanding of therelationship between words. Whereas conventions of sentence structure make most writing linearin form, graphic organizers take their form from the presumed structure of relationships among ideas”(p. 30).
Another explanation of graphic organizers is given by Tate (2003), who defines them asvisual representations, which help the left and right hemispheres of the brain make senseout of information and search for patterns in the information it processes. By using graphic organizers on aconsistent basis in the classroom, teachers can reach many of their students and be equipped toraise them up to an acceptable level of academic achievement and understanding. Because of the importance of readingstrategy in improving students’ comprehensionof the text, this study is conducted to find out whether or not schema strategy can improvestudents reading comprehension.Therefore, the researcher expected that using schema based strategy especially graphic organizercould overcome the difficulty inreadingcomprehension.