FAQ's About the Media Ready Program


  1. What makes Media Ready unique?
  2. What is an evidence-based program and why is it important?
  3. What are the goals of the Media Ready program?
  4. What are the findings from the Media Ready evaluation study?
  5. What is included in the Media Ready program?
  6. Is Media Ready effective for preventing underage drinking?
  7. Why not just tell students that underage drinking is illegal and bad for them?
  8. Is Media Ready easy to implement and teach?
  9. How are the lessons organized?
  10. What is the content of the Media Ready program?
  11. How important is receiving the educator training workshop?
  12. What are the topics covered in the educator program training?
  13. Who developed this program?


1) What makes Media Ready unique?


The Media Ready (MR) program is designed to delay or prevent alcohol and tobacco use. The program is built upon a conceptual model of how youth interpret media messages and how these interpretations result in the decision to use or not use alcohol or tobacco products. MR has also been evaluated in a randomized controlled trial.


  • Evidence-Based: It is one of the few, if not the only, evidence-based, media literacy, substance abuse prevention programs currently available for use with middle school-aged youth.
  • Scope and Sequence: One can find literally hundreds of existing media literacy activities that are fun, engaging and educational; however, MR is unique because the scope and sequence of the activities were developed and organized to reflect the most up-to-date research findings in the fields of substance abuse prevention, social cognition, and media literacy education.
  • Fun, Interactive Learning: Although MR has the goal of alcohol abuse prevention, students are not initially aware that prevention is the focus of the program. While exploring advertising techniques, alcohol advertisements are shown to the students as examples along with many other types of products and services.
  • Lessons Based on a Conceptual Model: MR is based on a conceptual model of how media messages are processed by children and has the goal of changing how children are able to think about and respond to media messages.
  • Teacher Training Workshop: Comprehensive training workshop for teachers includes introduction to the theory and research underlying the program model.
  • Follows Standard Course of Study: The program and lesson objectives are integrated with the North Carolina Standard Course of Study in Language Arts, Information Skills, and Healthful Living, and are applicable to the Learning Objectives/Education Standards of other states.
  • Curriculum is Adaptable: The curriculum is adaptable to a variety of classroom settings, teaching styles, and student skill levels and also to a variety of learning environments including schools, afterschool programs, and community settings.
  • Significant Prevention Findings: The MR program reduc es boys’ intentions to use alcohol and reduces boys’ and girls’ intentions to use tobacco products.  M R is a promising preventive intervention program which should reduce the likelihood of underage drinking and increase the likelihood of delaying the onset of alcohol use.


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2) What is an evidence-based program and why is it important?


An evidence-based program is one that has been evaluated in one or more research studies. For example, Media Ready has been evaluated in a randomized controlled trial (RCT), the most stringent test of the effectiveness of an intervention. This means that schools were randomly assigned to receive the MR training and program (intervention group) or not (control group).   Students in both groups completed a pre-test and post-test questionnaire; however, the intervention group was taught the MR program in between questionnaire administrations and the control group was taught their usual classroom material.

Because this RCT design was used, differences between youth in the intervention versus the control groups at post-test can be said to be caused by having participated in the MR program . The use of this design is important because it can be concluded that the program is, in fact, effective, given that its implementation replicates or copies the procedures used in the original study.  This distinguishes Media Ready from other programs that make anecdotal or unscientific claims around child outcomes.


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3) What are the goals of the Media Ready program?


  1. Encourage healthy cognitions about abstinence from alcohol use in middle school students;
  2. Enhance middle school students' ability to apply critical thinking skills to interpreting media messages, in general, and alcohol media messages, in particular; and
  3. Long-term goal is to d elay or prevent the onset of underage alcohol use.


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4.  What are the findings of the Media Ready evaluation study?


The Media Ready program results show significant:


  1. Improvement in critical thinking skills about media messages;
  2. Reduction in boys’ intent to use alcohol products; and
  3. Reduction in intent to use tobacco products.


The program was equally effective in 6th, 7th, and 8th grades as well as equally effective in Language Arts and Health Education classes.


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5) What is included in the Media Ready program?


This evidence-based, media literacy, substance abuse prevention program consists of

  • Eight-hour teacher training workshop conducted by MR certified trainers
  • Teacher manual of a scripted 10-lesson curriculum
  • Poster
  • Accompanying handouts and collateral materials


This program was designed for use with 6th through 8th grade students .


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6) Is Media Ready effective for preventing underage drinking?
The results of a randomized controlled trial designed to examine the effectiveness of the MR program indicate that it is changed key outcome variables .

Specifically, the findings indicate that:


  • Students who received the curriculum were better at analyzing advertisements and identifying key parts of an ad, such as who the target audience of the ad is and the implied messages that are used to persuade the consumer.
  • Boys who received the curriculum reported that they were less likely to use alcohol in the future than boys who did not receive the curriculum.
  • Youth who participated in the program reported significantly lower intent to use tobacco products in the future.
  • M R fits equally well in a Health Education or Language Arts setting and in grades 6th, 7th, and 8th, as evidenced by similar outcomes (e.g., intentions to use alcohol and media deconstruction skills).
  • Students evaluated the curriculum very positively; they liked learning about the media and becoming media literate .
  • Teachers also evaluated the curriculum very positively; they liked teaching the media literacy lessons.


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7) Why not just tell students that underage drinking is illegal and bad for them?


Media Ready students have found the journey from being a passive to active media consumer to be intellectually stimulating.  Telling students that media messages are bad is not effective; nor is it true. Similarly, warning students of the dangers of alcohol use has not been a successful strategy on its own.

Media literacy education aims to empower students with the skills they need to draw their own conclusions about pro-substance media messages. To be sure, this is but one element in what must be a multi-faceted approach to the problem of youth substance abuse, but it is one that is designed to engage young people and spur them to action.


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8) Is Media Ready easy to implement and teach?


Teachers involved in the evaluation study who attended the engaging and interactive one-day training program by iRT, found the program easy to learn and easy to teach.

iRT aimed to minimize teacher preparation by providing, whenever possible, all materials necessary for the activities that are included in the M R program. This program was designed to be adaptable to a variety of different types of classroom settings, teaching styles, and student skill levels.


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9 ) How are the lessons organized?


Each lesson is outlined in a convenient "Lesson-At-A-Glance" format. These lesson summaries include the major goals and objectives for the lesson along with a list of materials needed to complete the classroom activities. This "Lesson-At-A-Glance" page provides an outline of the day's activities that can be photocopied, so that teachers can use the outline while they teach and can make their own instructional notes on the page.


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10 ) What is the content of the Media Ready program?


The curriculum concepts build upon themselves. The first part of the curriculum introduces students to many of the key concepts in media literacy, such as developing an understanding that all media messages have a target audience and being able to identify the target audience.  Students also learn to identify the implied messages embedded in media messages as well as learn the seven key critical thinking questions regarding media messages.  By learning and applying the key MR questions, students see the benefits of becoming active rather than passive media consumers. During the next part of the curriculum, students apply their new media deconstruction skills to the analysis and evaluation of a wide variety of ads including ads for food, cars, and beauty products.  After substantial practice in the application of these critical thinking skills , students transition to deconstructing tobacco and alcohol ads. The curriculum culminates with a media production activity , which provides students with an opportunity to express their media production skills through the creation of an alcohol or tobacco counter-ad .

The teacher manual contains 10 scripted lessons with accompanying:


  • Goals
  • Objectives
  • Vocabulary words
  • Teacher preparation list
  • Lesson-At-A-Glance page
  • CD of advertisements used in the curriculum as teaching aids
  • Student worksheets for each lesson
  • Homework
  • Extension activities
  • References and resources page.


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11 ) How important is it to attend an educator training workshop?


Attendance at a teacher training workshop is fundamental to success in implementation of the Media Ready program. This conclusion is based upon recent research by Hobbs and Frost (2003) who examined high school teachers implementing media literacy in their classrooms for one year.   They found that at the close of the study, some teachers were still uncomfortable analyzing advertisements as well as guiding their students through the process.

This important finding is consistent with the idea that media literacy skills are a challenging set of critical thinking skills to master, even for adults. Because of the abstract nature of persuasive messages found in advertising, it is believed that a key element of this curriculum is to slowly and cumulatively build critical thinking and media deconstruction skills in both the adults teaching the program as well as in the students who are taking it. The educator training workshop and the cumulative nature of the Media Ready program are designed to enhance the likelihood that all participants will internalize these skills.


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12 ) What is the content of the educator training workshop?


The educator training workshop is designed to last eight hours and is led by the program developers and their training team, who are skilled trainers of both media literacy and the Media Ready program. After an introduction to the research on the effectiveness of media literacy training for the purpose of substance abuse prevention and the theoretical model underlying the program, trainers present each lesson in detail to trainees, providing guided discussion of the purpose of each activity, strategies for implementing each activity, and modeling of the activities.

Emphasis is placed on trainees receiving multiple opportunities for deconstructing media and for developing a deep understanding of the goals of the program manifested in the lesson activities.


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13 ) Who developed this program?


The Media Ready program was developed by innovation Research & Training under a contract funded by the NC-DHHS/Federal OJJDP Enforcing Underage Drinking Laws Program.

Media Ready is the product of the collaboration of leading child, clinical and developmental psychologists who are also substance abuse prevention scientists and experienced educators.


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Hobbs, R., & Frost, R. (2003).  Measuring the acquisition of media-literacy skills.  Reading Research Quarterly, 38(3), 330-355.