After-School Time Use in Taiwan: Effects on Educational Achievement and Well-Being

Article excerpt

Time can be spent in different ways, and time use reflects priorities and predilections, opportunities, and constraints (Medrich et al., 1982). In a study on how adolescents spend time across the world, Larson and Verma (1999) indicated that adolescents in East Asia spend much more time on schoolwork outside of class than their counterparts in the United States; and in contrast, participation in structured extracurricular activities and part-time employment are more common in the West than in the East. Western researchers have long been interested in how adolescents use their after-school time and its overall effect on their development. Many studies have linked adolescents' time spent on homework, structured extracurricular activities, various kinds of leisure involvement, and part-time employment with both their educational achievement and psychological adjustment. However, very little information is available on Chinese students' after-school time pursuits and their associations with academic achievement and psychological well-being. Drawing upon the Western literature and a few studies on East Asian students as references, and utilizing data from a national survey of adolescents in Taiwan, this study explored the relationships of time spent on nine after-school activities (i.e., homework, academic-enrichment programs, private cram schools, school-based extracurricular activities, watching TV, sports, extracurricular reading, Internet games, and part-time employment) to senior high school students' educational achievement and well-being.

After-School Time Use and Academic Achievement

Several studies have examined American adolescents' overall after-school time use and academic achievement. Camp (1990) utilized data from High School and Beyond 1980 (HSB) and found time spent on doing homework and participating in a series of extracurricular and co-curricular activities, both measured in 1982 when the students were seniors, produced positive, significant effects on academic achievement measured in 1984, when the students were no longer in high school. Yet, time spent watching TV per day and working per week did not. Cooper et al. (1999) surveyed 421 students in Grades 6 through 12 from the state of Tennessee and found that spending more time on school-based extracurricular activities and other structured groups outside of school, and less time on working at jobs and viewing television, were associated with both higher standardized achievement test scores and class grades. Spending more time on homework was associated with better class grades. Jordan and Nettles (2000) utilized data from the National Educational Longitudinal Study of 1988 (NELS: 88) and found participation in structured activities and time spent alone (e.g., using personal computers, reading for pleasure, working on hobbies) during tenth grade appeared to have significantly positive effects on twelfth-grade composite mathematics and science achievement. In contrast, working for pay during the tenth grade had significantly negative effects on twelfth-grade math and science achievement. Schreiber and Chambers (2002) also used data from the NELS: 88 and categorized student pursuits as in- or out-of-school, academic or nonacademic, and organized or unorganized activities. The researchers found engagement in in-school, academic, organized activities; out-of-school, nonacademic, non-organized activities (e.g., time spent on using personal computers, reading for pleasure), and out-of-school, academic, non-organized activities (e.g., homework) were all positively and significantly related to tenth graders' achievement across four subject areas: mathematics, reading, science, and geography/history. In contrast, engagement in out-of-school, nonacademic, non-organized activity (television), was negatively and significantly associated with tenth graders' mathematics and science achievement, but positively and significantly related to their geography/history achievement. …