TimeWise is a program that aims the promotion of life skills in adolescents with a special focus of leisure-related skills. Leisure behaviours can be an important general resource and developmental asset for positive development or risk factor for adolescents' development and is in particular related to the development of substance use. High consumption of alcohol and illegal drugs has been frequently linked with boredom during free time. Contrary to that, structured leisure activities seem to protect against misusing or abusing consumption patterns.
TimeWise has been developed and evaluated in the US (Caldwell & Smith, Pennsylvania State University). Now the program will be implemented and evaluated in different countries, like South Africa and Germany. In our project, TimeWise in the German version was implemented class-rooms of 7 graders of three college-bound schools. The teacher act as facilitators that implement the program after an intensive facilitator training conducted by the project leader. TimeWise spans six units (a 55 min). Same aged students of three other schools were involved in a developmental study exploring the relationship between leisure behaviours and substance use development and form the control condition. The aim of the study was to test the practicability and acceptance of TimeWise in German contexts, to compare the effects of TimeWise comparing intervention and control group pre and post intervention and, finally, to compare the effectiveness of TimeWise across different countries.
The results of the study showed that TimeWise can be implemented in a German school context but the acceptance of the pupils is low. The adolescents reported that they are already involved in many interesting leisure activities and that they already knew the messages that the program conveys. The outcome evaluation showed (even in the recent follow-up-investigation) that the program did neither change leisure-related behaviours and motivations nor substance use in students of college-bound schools.
We expected stronger intervention effects in lower-track schools. Results of a pre-data collection in autumn 2006 indicate that there is less awareness for leisure activities and higher involvement in unstructured leisure activities in students of lower-track schools than in college-bound schools. It seems that students of lower-track schools are more in need of optimizing their leisure competencies and therefore could profit more from a program like TimeWise.
In spring 2007 another evaluation with a pre-post design was conducted with 5 lower-track schools. Within each school TimeWise was implemented in one class whereas the other class displayed the control group. The program was well implemented in the schools and acceptance was higher in students of lower-track schools compared to the college-bound students. The majority of students found the program interesting and useful. According to their statements they have learned to cope better with boredom and to plan their leisure time wisely. Analyses of data indicate few positive effects of the program on leisure competencies and alcohol use. Overall, intervention effects are clearer in lower-track than in college-bound schools, but the American results could not be replicated. Additional moderator analyses revealed influences of resources perceived by adolescents in their direct environment on the effectiveness of TimeWise in lower-track school contexts. Lower-track students with low environmental resources profited more from the intervention and reported a reduced peer influence compared to students of the control group.
For this study, Karina Weichold received funds from the county of Thuringia. The financial funding is part of the initiative "LUBOM Thüringen - Funds for the equality of females in research and teaching. Furthermore, the study was financially supported by funds of the CADS (Director: Prof. R. K. Silbereisen) and by funds of of the Program Promotion of Excellence in Scientific Activities at Thuringian Universities (Research group leader: Dr. Karina Weichold).
- Caldwell, L. L., Weichold, K., & Smith, E. A. (2006). Peer influence, substance use and leisure: A cross-cultural comparison. Sucht - German Journal for Addiction Research and Practice, 52(4), 261-267.
- Weichold, K. & Silbereisen, R. K. (2007). Positive Jugendentwicklung und Prävention. In B. Röhrle (Ed.), Prävention und Gesundheitsförderung für Kinder und Jugendliche (S. 103-126). Tübingen: DGTV-Verlag.