Abstract: The Role of Engagement in the REAL Media Substance Use Prevention Curriculum
Prevention curricula rely on audience engagement to effectively communicate their messages. However, to date measurement of engagement has primarily focused on self-report that is often an indicator of liking or satisfaction. Emerging technologies for intervention delivery hold promise not only for additional engagement indicators but also for dissemination outside of traditional vehicles such as classroom delivery. The present study, grounded in social cognitive theory (Bandura 1986) as well as a theory of active involvement (Greene 2013), explores the role of engagement (as measured by self-report, program analytics, and observation) with short term substance prevention outcomes such as self-efficacy to counter argue and descriptive and injunctive norms. The study tracks 4-H youth (N = 310) engaged with a media literacy focused e-learning substance prevention curriculum named REAL media. Results indicate that self-reports of engagement predicted self-efficacy to counter-argue at three months, but a program-analytic indicator of dosage was predictive of both injunctive and descriptive norms at three months. The observational indicator was correlated with self-efficacy to counter argue but not significant in the predictive models. The implications and directions for future research in prevention are discussed.