THE INFLUENCE OF AFFECTIVE FACTORS TO LANGUAGE LEARNING’S STYLES AND STRATEGIES

THE INFLUENCES OF AFFECTIVE FACTORS

TO LANGUAGE LEARNING’S STYLES AND STRATEGIES

 

By Nor Laili Fatmawati Fs.

 

 

INTRODUCTION

Style and strategy are two components that consciously or not have been used by people in learning process. These two have influenced very much the process of learning and its result. And although people have their own rights to choose what learning styles and strategies they want to use in learning, they still should consider that building and shaping good learning styles and strategies are something important. Sometimes we see two learners in the same age level who learn the same material, for the same period, have got very different achievements. This difference is happened actually because both of them have used the different learning styles and strategies. The one who have get the more is the learner who has known his own learning styles properly and then knows very well how to match it with the characteristics of the material they learned, in order to be able in choosing the proper strategies that will be used.

Styles and strategies are also need in learning second language. Because in fact, learning language is something that is not only related to the transferring materials to the learners’ brain, but also related to the communication ability building, so, people should choose the proper learning styles and strategies that will help them to understand and apply the language properly as tool of communication, weather in oral or written form.

There is one factor that can be very important to be considered before choosing certain styles and strategies in second language learning process. Commonly, people choose the learning styles and strategies which are appropriate with their personality characters, physical ability, neurological development, and also socio-cultural conditions. These four become the most influential variables that determine the learners’ styles and strategies when learning second language.

This paper is going to discuss the learners’ affective types that influence their learning styles and strategies. It involves the discussion about the types of learners’ styles and strategies in learning second language, and how they are influenced by the affective types told before. And in order to present the comprehensive discussion, the physical, psychological, neurobiological and socio-cultural factors will not be discussed in this paper. Hopefully this paper can help the learners to consider their own learning styles with its benefits and weaknesses, and then get some references to choose the proper strategies that will help them to be successful second language learners.

AFFECTIVE FACTORS

Affective factor is one aspect that can influence the styles and strategies used by the second language learners. This opinion is supported by Keefe’s (1982: 4) definition about the style (will be explain further in the next chapter). He stated that style is not only cognitive traits, but also affective and physiological traits. From his definition, we can see clearly the relationship between learning styles and affective factors of the learners. Most of learning styles used by learners are shaped by their personality characteristics.

Affective refers to emotional side of human being (Hulse, Egeth, Deese, 1981: 4). The affective factors meant in second language learning includes the self-esteem, attribution theory and self-efficacy, willingness to communicate, inhibition, risk taking, anxiety, empathy and extroversion.

1. Self-Esteem

Brown (2007: 154) has explained that self-esteem is probably the most pervasive of human aspect that influences very much the success of people in their life. According to Wells and Marwell (1976: 56), self-esteem is the positive thinking of people in valuing their own selves. This positive thinking then expressed in the positive physical and emotional behavior. Further, Rosenbreng (in Wells and Marwell: 1976: 57), explained that self-esteem will help the people to appreciate their own selves and enable them to develop their abilities properly. So, self-esteem is people perception about their own selves which has big influence to the people’s behavior. The proportional self-esteem will support the people to be more successful because it will help them to be braver in facing the challenge and taking the possible risks that may be appear.

This kind of affective factor is of course need in second language learning. It can be the causes of the learning result, and also can be the result of the learning it’s self. Self-esteem also becomes the base of self-confidence, attribution theory, and self-efficacy that becomes the second kind of the effective factors.

2. Attribution theory and Self-Efficacy

Weiner (in Brown, 2007: 156) defines that attribution theory refers to people ability in knowing some factors that support their success or failure in learning. From this theory, self-efficacy then appears. People with high self-efficacy will know that their own effort is the main cause of their success. So, in solving learning problems, they will believe on their efforts, and if finally they fail, they will have positive thinking by viewing that their failure may be caused by their effort that still does not enough to get the success. This way of thinking will make the learners learn from their experiences and agree to do the harder effort in the next. In the contrary, people with low self-efficacy, when they failed in their learning, they tend to have negative thinking such as blaming other people as the cause of their failure, or think that actually they will be never become success in the learning because they are weak, stupid etc.

Related to this factor, of course people’s self efficiency degree will influence very much the way how the second language learners experience the learning process. As stated by Wells and Marwell: 1976: 81), people always reflect what they think about their own selves in their mind. If they believe that they have enough ability to be success in learning, they will get it, but if they do not believe their own ability and construct the idea that they will be failed in the learning, they will also get it.

2. Willingness to Communicate

Because language is the tool of communication, so, learning language is the process of training to use the tool of communication. Of course, trying to practice the language in the real communication is very important in the process of second language learning. But, in fact, learners have different willingness to do it. Some of language learners have big willingness to practice their language, while some learners do not have it.

Willingness to communicate is related to self confidence, self-esteem and self-efficacy. The more the people confidence, the more the willingness to communication they have. For some people, creating the willingness to communicate is very difficult. This difficulty is supported very much by the next types of personality, they are inhibition, extroversion or introversion.

3. Inhibition

Still related to self-esteem, self-efficacy and self-confidence, inhibition is one personality type that has big impact in the process of learning language.  Hjeelle and Ziegler (1981: 273) said that inhibition is the people tendency done as their effort to protect their ego. This inhibition type sometimes makes the learners can not mobilize all potencies they have that actually may be support them to get the good result in learning.

People with inhibition personality usually are not the people who have risk taking personality. They will worry very much if the risks that come later will endanger their ego. But, this inhibition sometimes is also need in learning language. It enables the learners to delay the production to get the best production in the next.

4. Risk Taking

Risk taking is the personality of language learners that enable them to be brave in facing all result or risks came out from their language learning process and practice. This risk taking if of course need because learning language will involve some trial-and-error process. This personality is commonly created by the people’s mental braveness and their high motivation to get the greatest result from their learning.

People with risk taking personality will not easily give up when they get bad result from their learning. In second language learning context, the bad results meant can be the risk of being fool in front of other people when the learners did some mistakes, causing misunderstanding to the people to whom the learners try to practice their second language, loosing lot of time and energy because of learning force, etc. While people who have not good risk taking personality tend to limit their learning efforts strictly, easily give up when facing some learning problems, and next makes possibility of being trauma for further learning process.

5. Anxiety

Scovel (1978: 134) defines the anxiety as the subjective feeling that is associated with uneasiness feeling, frustration, worry and apprehension. The anxiety has some levels, and although usually it refers to the negative feeling, but actually it has some benefits in the process of second language learning. That is whyOxford(1999: 97) said that anxiety can be in form of harmful anxiety and also helpful anxiety.

The harmful anxiety in learning language means that sometimes, people’s anxiety causes them nervous or act worse in practicing the language. While the helpful anxiety means that from previous condition, people can learn from their experience in order to motivate their selves to be harder in learning, or prepare everything well before deciding to produce the language. As anxiety can be the factor that results weather bad or good effects as explained before, the anxiety can also becomes the result of some poor performance in second language, or the product of less than satisfactory performance of learners.

6. Empathy

Empathy has closed relationship with the people’s social-ability. And because language is one of social phenomena, empathy has its own role in learning second language. To be able to use the second language properly in communication, people should have empathy to understand the context and culture in which they communicate, and the condition of other people they speak to. People with good empathy usually become good communicator. They know better how to communicate and what will be communicated.

In learning second language, people can get some benefit from this type of personality. Empathy enables the learners to understand and associate their selves with the characteristics of the second language they learn. This opinion is supported by Witkin and Goodenough (in Brown, 2007: 166), who stated that empathy is one characteristic of good language learners.

7. Extroversion

Extroversion is personality factor that opposites the introversion. These two personalities mostly influence the learners in choosing the different ways in learning language. It is because in learning second language, learners will face some new things that are never faced before. Of course, the extroversion and introversion personality of learners will show their different attitude toward the second language they learn.

Wickes (in Keirsey and Bates, 1984: 101) has explained that the introvert learners are particularly vulnerable to damage if asked to behave as an extrovert. They sometimes misunderstand and feel to be pressured when facing some changes. The introvert learners usually show the reticence in dealing with others, the tendency to be retired and shy, the slow development of social skills, the tendency to drop their head and put their fingers in their mouth before strangers, the slowness to volunteer in the classroom or society, the hesitation in sharing their ideas and generally they need privacy very much.

The extrovert learners, according to Kiersey and Bates (1984: 101) have the contrast characteristics from the introvert ones. The extrovert learners usually have better ability to make relationship to other people. They tend to be responsive, expressive and enthusiastic. They always feel ready to enter the group activities and accept some ideas from them. They also have big tolerance for some differences they face, can approach new situation quickly, verbalize quickly, and act quickly.

These two types of personality can be observed easily from the learners of second language. These two will guide the learners in using the appropriate approach to learn second language. It also decides what language field they can acquire better or worse.

All of those affective factors are more created by long conditioning rather than instant training. They have been effected very much by the condition of socio-cultural in which the people live. That is why the socio-cultural is also considered by the factor which influences indirectly the learners’ style and strategies for having big roles in shaping peoples’ emotion and feeling.

Learning Styles and Strategies and how are they influenced by the learners’ affective factors

According to Keefe (1982: 4), learning style is cognitive, affective, and physiological traits that serve as relatively stable indicators of how learners perceive, interact with, and respond to the learning environment. This learning style will be difficult to be change, although it is possible. Some people usually use their learning styles by their own considerations based on their long learning experiences they have. But, other people use their learning styles without any considerations except they know that they have use the styles repeatedly.

While strategy, according to Brown (2007: 119) is specific method or technique used by the learners for achieving the materials learned. Of course, people may have several strategies for one focus. This strategy is more adaptable and easy to be changed. It is used by learners according to their learning styles they have.

Based on some previous research, Brown (2007: 120) stated that in general, there are five learning styles mostly used by people in learning second language, they are field independence style, left and right-brain dominance styles, ambiguity tolerance style, reflective and impulsive style, and visual/ auditory/ kinesthetic style.

1. Field Independence Style

In learning language, some people are tended to be more field independent and some other people are tended to do be the opposite, or to be more field dependent. This dependency shows how much people’s sensitivity to everything around them. People with field independence usually do not too sensitive with their surrounding and so that they have great ability to maintain their concentration. Because of it, people with this style are typically can analyze something in detail very well. In the other hand, people with field dependence style will be more easily influenced by everything around them. They will feel very hard to focus their concentration on something in long period. It can be said that people who have this style as the sensitive people.

For the people with self independence style, they like to learn the language structure or analyze some reading materials rather than to learn language from other people’s communication language around them, or try to practice their language competence with other people like the people with field dependence style do.

In this style, people’s empathy plays the major role to decide weather they will have the field independent or self dependent style. The low empathy can support the people to have the style of field independence, while the high empathy enable people to be more sensitive and responsive that then supports the people to have field dependence style. Witkin and Goodenough (in Brown, 2007: 166) has explained clearly that learners’ empathy determine weather they tend to use the field independent or dependent style. Further he said that the learners who use dependent field style and considered has higher volume of empathy can be easier in understanding cross-culture phenomena happened around second language learning.

2. Left- and right- Brain Dominance

As explained by Brown in the second chapter of Principle of Language Learning and Teaching (2007), in the age of two, people’s brain have begin the lateralization process in which some activities are belonged as the left-brain activities and some other activities are belonged as the right-brain activities. This process is matured when the people arrived in puberty age. Resulted by this process, people usually have tendency to use dominantly a part of their brain, weather the left or right part. This tendency then influences the style of their learning style. The people who use more their left-brain in their second language learning process are called as the learners who have the left-brain dominance style, and the people who use more their right-brain are called as the people who have the right-brain dominance.

Although Milla and Whitaker (1983: 110) have said that language is belonged by the right hemisphere, actually the activities of both right and left brain can be employed to acquire language. This second style is related very much to the learners’ neurobiological and physical factors, but it also related to the affective factors of second language learners. As stated before, using a style is like accustoming a habit in our selves. People do using certain styles repeatedly because they have some experiences that those styles are more useful for them. If they feel that the styles do not work well, they will leave it and look for the other styles.

In the case of left-and-right-brain dominance, people who have experienced that the activities of the left brain (for example), are more help them in learning language because probably they like to learn language by memorizing the structure or analyzing the reading materials etc., tend to use it again and again. If they have ever been failed in learning language by using it, they will not interested in repeating the same in the next. Then, for knowing weather certain styles are useful or not for them, they need to have high self-efficacy in order to be able to make the objective evaluation about their learning styles. If they haven’t it, they will be afraid to use certain styles which ever make them failed in learning.

3. Ambiguity Tolerance

There are two types of learners according to this style, first is people who have ambiguity tolerance and people have ambiguity intolerance. Ambiguity tolerance is learning style that enables the learners to be more flexible to the concepts or ideas that against the concepts or ideas they already have in their head. And in the contrary, ambiguity intolerance is learning style that demands everything to be fit with the previous concepts or ideas in the learners’ mind.

In language learning, both of them are useful. But, the ambiguity tolerance is more useful to be used by second language learners because enables the learners to acquire all language’s features they learn, although the new language materials are not similar with what they knew previously about it. The ambiguity intolerance is also useful, especially to keep the original or true accent of the second language learned in order to not easily changed by the false ones, or to keep the stabilization done by the learners.

There are three effective factors that can influence learners’ ambiguity tolerance. First, learners with inhibition type tend to understand the ambiguity tolerance. Although they need some times for having analysis, but then they can avoid some mistakes caused by the present of ambiguities in their language learning. Second, being tolerance or intolerance is related very much to the learners’ empathy. The more empathy the learners have, they tend to be more tolerance with the ambiguities. While in the contrary, the less empathy will makes the learners difficult to tolerate the ambiguities.  Third, extroversion and introversion also have roles for this style. As explained of extroversion and introversion before, the extrovert learners will easily tolerate the new things although it different from their own concept and perception, of course, in case of ambiguity, they will also tolerate it easily. But, for the introvert learners, to tolerate ambiguities will be very hard process to do. They need more time for it.

4. Reflective and Impulsive

Reflective learners usually have good internal motivation in learning second language. They do not need too much impulse because little impulse can successfully make them reflect it. In the opposite, the impulsive learners usually need the more external motivation which helps them doing something for their learning process. The learners with this style will be very depended on the external variables around them.

The first style is usually used by learners who has good self-esteem, willingness to communicate, risk takers, high empathy, and extroversion style. They have big self-confidence, braveness to get everything resulted by their learning process, open-minded with the situation around them and like to decide something quickly. In the other hand, the impulsive style is usually used by the learners who have bad self-esteem and self efficacy, have no willingness to communicate, afraid to take risk, have low empathy and have introversion style. Of course the first style will be better used by people in learning second language.

5. Visual, Auditory and Kinesthetic Style

As its name, visual style refers to style used by learners who prefer to use visual media in learning language, auditory style for whom prefers to use audio media, and kinesthetic style for whom prefers to use their physical actions or movements.

Because these styles related to the learners preferences, self efficacy is really need by the learners. Like in the left-and-right-brain dominance style, self efficacy will help the learners very much in recognizing the preference of their own selves and will help them to value which style considered more useful for them.

Learning Strategies

Brown (2007: 134) explains that there are four types of learning strategies. First is metacognitive strategy that actually such preparation strategy used by people before they use the cognitive strategy, second is the cognitive strategy it self, third is the socioaffective strategy that related to the social-mediating conducted by learners with other people, and forth is communication strategies that actually a part of the third strategy. Each of these three has several types used by people consciously or not in learning language.

  1. Metacognitive Strategies

Metacognitive strategies are used by learners to prepare their selves before the learning process occurred. Brown (2007: 134) has explained that actually this strategy is used in planning the learning process that is going to be experienced by the learners. These metacognitive strategies are used usually by the learners who tend to be anxiety in facing something. Here is the benefit of being anxiety for second language learners. The anxiety will lead them to always have perfect plan and preparation before learning or doing something. In the other hand, if the learners do not feel any anxiety, they will not prepare anything and tend to underestimate the learning process they are going to face.

Extrovert people are also the people who tend to leave the metacognitive strategy. They like to do something directly and quickly without any planning. But the introvert people will not have the same. Some introvert people tend to delay the production in order to use some metacognitive strategies to produce the result as good as possible. The people with tend to be risk takers also do the similar thing with the extrovert people. They prefer the directness rather than using metacognitive strategies because they never worry about the risks they will get from what they do. Of course, it causes them in many times do the same mistakes resulted by the same factors. But this repeating mistakes will never make sense for them. Risk has been viewed as something that challenges them and makes them interest, not frightened thing that should be avoided as the introvert people do.

The metacognitive strategies can be in form of advance organizing the previous concept in the learners’ mind, directing the attention to the material that will be learned, selecting the attention, self-management, self monitoring, delayed production and self-evaluation. All of those strategies are actually important. The proper metacognitive strategy will result better achievement for second language learners.

  1. 2.      Cognitive Strategies

Cognitive strategies are used by learners while they are learning. In learning second language, the strategies that commonly used by the learners are repetition, resourcing, translation, grouping, note taking, deduction, recombination, imagery, auditory representation, keyword, contextualization, elaboration, transfer and inference.

Self efficacy takes the important role to determine what strategy will be used by learners. These cognitive strategies mostly related to the left-and-right-brain dominant style. It is because some of the people prefer to use some left-brain activities in learning language, and the other people prefer to use the right-brain activities. Extroversion and introversion type also influence the cognitive strategies. The extrovert people tend to use the direct and verbal cognitive strategy like repetition, elaboration etc, and the introvert people tend to use indirect and non-verbal cognitive strategies like resourcing, imagery etc.

  1. Socioaffective Strategie

Socioaffective strategies are use by the learners in associating their selves to other people. It takes to forms called cooperating and question for clarification. These two strategies commonly used by extrovert people, risk takers, people who have great willingness to communicate and the people who have enough level of empathy. The people who have the opposite affective factors will avoid these strategies or only use them in small portion.

  1. Communication Strategies

Communication strategies are used by the learners when they are going to make communication with other people as the results of their language learning process. There are two main strategies here, the avoidance strategy and compensatory strategy. For the risk takers, they rarely use these two communication strategies. But for the introvert people, people who tend to feel anxiety, and who like to do inhibition, these two communication strategies will be very usefull.

Teaching Implication related to the influence of affective factors to the Second Language Learners’ Style and Strategies

After knowing how the affective factors influence the learners’ styles and strategies, so the second language learning in classroom should pay attention to the following consideration:

  1. The process of second language learning should be based on learners own styles and strategies. The teacher should consider that every learner has their own right to choose their own styles and strategies in learning second language and it asks the teacher to wise in tolerating some differences appear among learners.
  2. As effective factors of adult learners have been stable permanently, their styles and strategies in learning are also in the same condition. For child learners, they tend to be more flexible because their affective factors still not as permanent as adults’. For this fact, accustoming good learning styles and strategy for child learners will be very useful because generally they will use them until in the future for learning the same or the different subjects.
  3. All of learning styles and strategies have both of benefits and weaknesses. The teachers should not blame some of them are better than the others.

Conclusion

Learning styles and strategies are two important variables that support the process and results of second language learning. There style and strategies are influenced by some factors, such as affective factors, physical factors, psychological factors, neurological factors and also socio-cultural factors. Some factors such as self-esteem, attribution and self efficacy, willingness to communicate, inhibition, risk taking, anxiety, empathy and extroversion are considered as the affective factors which mostly influence second language learners’ style and strategies.

There are five learning styles used by the language learners, they are field independent style, left-right-brain dominance style, ambiguity tolerance style, reflective and impulsive style and visual, auditory and kinesthetic styles. These styles are the most important thing considered by learners in choosing some strategies they will use in learning second language.

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