MAKASSAR, SOUTH SULAWESI – Very concerned, that's what I felt when trying to find preliminary information about the reading interests of students taking the Literary Criticism course in the first semester of 2015-2016. The reason was that to be able to effectively criticize literary works, the students should be used to reading literature. Yet out of 10 students not one person had finished reading a novel in a previous month.
This finding prompted me to launch a lecture program that the students and I named the "Novel Exchange Program". We agreed to make this program one of the assessment items for my lecture course. Each student had to donate one novel. The average number of novels collected for each class was 37. None of them had the same title.
The class secretary then made a list of the novels and they were numbered. Each week the students have to exchange the novel they are reading so that they have to finish reading that novel within a week.
Students record their reading activity and how long it takes in their own reading journal. They also have to make a synopsis of each novel read and keep a collection of the synopses. To control the students reading activity, I sign off on and write the date on each synopsis. For ten minutes at the beginning of the lecture, the students tell the class about the novel they have read during that week. They then critique the novels using the literary criticism approach they have learned about during the lecture that week. As a result, at the end of the term, each student on average finished reading 12 novels.
"At the beginning, the activity of novel reading was difficult. In addition to requiring a lot of time, we also had to be able to manage our time so that we could complete the various tasks given us by the other lecturers. Not to mention that the novels are mostly long. However, after reading three novels, I became an avid reader of them. It does not feel quite right now, when I do not spend some time during the day reading a novel, and curiosity always gets the better of me to finish the novel and find out its storyline," said Crisnayanti, one of the students who took this course.