Teams–Games–Tournaments (TGT) Alcohol Prevention

Program Goal/Target Population

The Teams–Games–Tournaments (TGT) program is an approach to alcohol prevention that combines peer support with group reward structures. It is typically delivered to high school students.

Program Components

Within each participating school, students take part in a 4-week educational program providing alcohol information and encouraging the application of these concepts in the youths’ lives. All activities emphasize the use of peer support to enhance learning and the acceptance of responsible attitudes toward drinking.

The program begins with a 50-question pretest of alcohol knowledge. Based on their test results, students are classified as high achievers (those with high levels of knowledge about alcohol), middle achievers (those with moderate knowledge), and low achievers (those most lacking). The students are then grouped into eight-member teams containing two high achievers, four middle achievers, and two low achievers.

The alcohol education units are presented for 50 minutes each day for 4 weeks. During the first 3 days of each week, discussions and participatory activities cover alcohol-related concepts. On the fourth day, students work in their TGT teams to complete worksheets in preparation for the tournament. The tournament is held on the fifth day.

The tournament games are designed to assess and reinforce class lessons through short-answer questions. The structure ensures that competitors rotate through the tables regularly so that competition is not skewed in favor of any group of achievers. Scores are kept for each individual during the tournament games, as well as for teams. Individual and team scores are posted after the tournament.

Program Theory

The program was developed using a behavioral group work perspective and consequently emphasizes group rather than individual achievement. It builds on research on games as a teaching device, small groups as classroom work units, and the task-and-reward structures used in the traditional classroom.

The curriculum covers the biological, psychological, and sociocultural determinants of alcoholism. Students learn how to make realistic judgments about their own present or possible future use; they also learn about the progression from responsible consumption to problem usage to alcoholism.

During the program, basic principles of social learning theory illustrate the concept that all drinking behaviors are learned. For example, an individual with a drinking problem can learn to drink differently, and the drinker who currently has no problem can control circumstances so that drinking remains within acceptable bounds. With this knowledge, students then learn self-management tools: assertiveness, refusal skills, and how to change their internal and external environment.

Key Personnel

The program is implemented and led by regular classroom teachers who receive training about the use of the TGT curriculum and behavioral techniques.

Intervention ID

13 to 18


Study 1

Alcohol Knowledge

Wodarski (1987) found that Teams–Games–Tournaments (TGT) participants showed gains in alcohol-related knowledge at posttest, relative to both the traditional and no-instruction control groups. Additional analyses confirmed that these effects were sustained at the 1-year and 2-year follow-ups. School effects were not significant, suggesting that the characteristics of particular school systems did not affect the outcomes.

Drinking Behavior

Measures of alcohol consumption also favored the experimental group. From pretest to posttest, the TGT group experienced a decrease of 6.67 points, compared with a 0.57 point change for the traditional instruction groups and a 0.49 point change for the control group. These effects were statistically significant. At the 2-year follow-up, the positive effects of the program weakened over time yet remained significant; the decrease in “maintenance” for the TGT group was the smallest.

Attitude Changes Concerning Drinking and Driving

At follow-up the TGT participants showed significantly better attitudes toward drinking and driving. These changes were maintained at the 1-year and 2-year follow-ups.

Impulsive Behavior

TGT students showed significantly lower rates of reported impulsive behavior compared with the other two groups. The reductions were maintained through the 1-year and 2-year follow-ups.

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