Congratulations to Khadidiatou Ndiaye, Elvira Elek, Masaki Matsunaga, and Michael Hecht for their paper; Acculturation, Ethnic Identification, Language Use, and Risk Behaviors among Mexican-Heritage Preadolescents. It was honored as a 2012 top four faculty paper at the National Communication Association Meeting in Orlando, Florida in November.
Congratulations to Janice Krieger, Samantha Covaleski, Michael Hecht, Michelle Miller-Day, John Graham, Jonathan Pettigrew, and Alison Kootsikas for their paper; From Kids, Through Kids, To Kids: Examining the Social Influence Strategies Used by Adolescents to Promote Prevention Among Peers. It was honored as a top paper at the National Communication Association Meeting in Orlando, Florida in November.
Michael Hecht was awarded Rural State Leader of the Year award on November 15th by the Pennsylvania Office of Rural Health. More can be read at:
Michelle Miller-Day is now a Professor of Communication Studies at Chapman University in Southern California.
We were excited to welcome to the world Talya Grace Pettigrew on Saturday, September 1st. She weighed 7 lbs. 13 oz. and measured 20¼ inches.
Jonathan Pettigrew is now an Assistant Professor of Communication Studies at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Drug Resistance Strategies paper, "Acculturation, Ethnic Identification, Language Use, and Risk Behaviors among Mexican-Heritage Preadolescents", authored by Khadi Ndiaye, Masaki Matsunaga, Elvira Elek and Michael Hecht was selected at the top paper in the International and Intercultural Division of the National Communication Association at its 2012 convention in Orlando, Florida.
Emily Reichert, 2012 CAS Honors Graduate and Drug Resistance Strategies Project team member, has published a paper in Psychology based on her honors thesis. It appears online and will shortly be published in hard copy, as well. Ms Reichert is entering the health communication masters program at Emerson in Fall 2012.
keepin it REAL was noted as an effective program in a research report by the National Drop-out Prevention Center. kiR can be useful for schools and administrators looking for programs that promote student academic success and school engagement. The full report can be accessed here.

Michelle Miller-Day provided a workshop on coding videotaped interaction along with assistance in developing a sexual pressure resistance skills simulation game at the University of Central Florida Nov. 7-10, 2011. The game is an interactive computer simulation based on the keepin’ it REAL curriculum and focusing on the skills involved in resisting peer pressure.

Michelle Miller-Day, Jonathan Pettigrew, Dana Naughton, Laura Bodenshatz, and Dennis Scanlon were presenters for a symposium on team-based qualitative research. The symposium was sponsored by the Penn State Qualitative Interest Group (QUIG).

Michelle Miller-Day taught a doctoral qualitative research methods course in Bangkok, Thailand at the National Institute for Development Administration June-July, 2011.

Michelle Miller-Day recently stretched her acting muscles in a production of “Nightfall”—a collection of works by Edgar Allen Poe—in Altoona, PA with the Things Unseen Theatre Company.

Michael Hecht presented a seminar on Qualitative Social Science Grant Writing for the Graduate College on November 9, 2011. The presentation gave an overview of grant writing, emphasizing the special challenges encountered by those using qualitative methods.

Michael Hecht participated in a joint meeting of the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council, NEH, NIH and the Welcome Trust to discuss"Culture, Health, and Well Being". The meeting, held in London on October 24, 2011, helped set the agenda for collaborative research in Medical Humanities research.

Michael Hecht was one of the featured speakers at the meeting, "Brand Positioning: What Are You Promising Your Target Audience?" The meeting was meant to establish an agenda for branded health communication research and was sponsored by the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

kiR researchers developed an important, innovative way of measuring health messages. Their work was published in Communication Methods and Measures and was the most downloaded article just a month and a half after its release. The article can be viewed here.

The keepin' it REAL research team presented several papers and posters at the recent Society of Prevention Research annual meeting. Click on the titles to view posters. If you're interested in the papers, please contact our program coordinator at

The Rural Identity Scale: A New Approach for
Understanding Rural Adolescent Substance Use

Janice Krieger, HyeJeong Choi, John Graham, Michael
Hecht, Michelle Miller-Day

Reconceptualizing efficacy: Response efficacy and drug
resistant self-efficacy in adolescent substance use

Michael Hecht, HyeJeong Choi, John Graham, Janice Krieger,
Andrew Porter

Random Assignment of Schools to Groups in the
Drug Resistance Strategies Rural Project: Some New
Methodological Twists

John Graham, Jonathan Pettigrew, Michael Hecht, Michelle
Miller-Day, Janice Krieger

Transitions in resistance skill profiles
Suellen Hopfer, Jeong Kyu Lee, Michael Hecht, Xianming


How implementation qualities predict attitudinal
and behavioral outcomes in school-based substance
prevention program
YoungJu Shin, Michelle Miller-Day, Jonathan Pettigrew,
Michael Hecht

Qualitative approach to implementer typologies: How
teachers and students interact in implementation of
school based prevention intervention
YoungJu Shin, Michelle Miller-Day, Jonathan Pettigrew,
Michael Hecht

The Social Science Research Institute at Penn State features the keepin' it REAL partnership with D.A.R.E for a new elementary curriculum.

Annabelle Skye Green

keepin' it REAL birth announcement: Annabelle Skye Green was born on 7/28/2010 to DRS team member Suellen Hopfer and Michael Green. Congratulations!

Michelle Miller-Day and Jennifer Kam's work is featured in this month's Office of National Drug Control Policy's Update.

More about their article can be found at Also featured is a keepin' it REAL spin-off project by Laura Hopson and Lori Holleran Steiker. More information about that can be found at

keepin' it REAL wins 2010 Penn State Award for Community Engagement and Scholarship

keepin’ it REAL, a program led by Penn State Department of Communication Arts and Sciences faculty Dr. Michael Hecht, Distinguished Professor, and Dr. Michelle Miller-Day, associate professor, is the winner of  the 2010 Penn State Award for Community Engagement and Scholarship. The keepin’ it REAL  program teaches middle school youth to assess risks, understand the consequences of their behaviors, learn decision-making processes and communication skills through kids’ own voices. keepin’ it REAL has been proven effective and is being distributed nationally and internationally through different partnerships, including D.A.R.E America.  

The award recognizes the project as an example of outstanding outreach and engagement research activities that involve collaboration between and among university and community partners. Established in 2006 with support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the awards program seeks to identify land-grant colleges and universities that have redesigned their learning, discovery, and engagement functions to become even more productively involved with their communities.  

Read the full story here:

keepin' it REAL Ranked Among Top 3 Most Cost-Effective Prevention Programs in a Study by SAMSA

At the recent Society for Prevention Research a cost effectiveness study was reported evaluating prevention programs. kiR (the original curriculum; the one we now call "classic") was ranked among the top 3 overall with a cost benefit ratio of 28 ($28 in benefits for every $1 spent). Read the full announcement here.

DRS is highlighted in Communication Currents

DRS is highlighted in the April 2009 issue of Communication Currents, an online web magazine of the National Communication Association. Dr. Michelle Miller Day talks about Drug Resistance Strategies: Listen to the issue.

D.A.R.E. has adopted keepin' it REAL (kiR) as the NEW D.A.R.E. junior high/middle school curriculum

D.A.R.E. America and The Pennsylvania State University have joined forces for D.A.R.E.’s delivery of “kiR.” “kiR” is designated as a model substance abuse prevention education program on the SAMSHA National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP). Read the full announcement here.

keepin' it REAL was chosen as one of the 15 stellar community-university partnerships in Penn State's application for the Carnegie Community Engagement

Penn State is one of less than 200 institutions of higher education in the United States that have received the prestigious Classification in Community Engagement from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

As defined by Carnegie, community engagement describes the collaboration between institutions of higher education and their larger communities (local, regional/state, national, global) for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity.

In order to achieve this classification, Penn State submitted extensive documentation that provided details of exemplary institutionalized practices of community engagement. Through a rigorous selection process, the keepin’ it REAL project was chosen as one of the 15 stellar community-university partnerships detailed in Penn State’s application.