The Evidence Portal

Learning and development activities related to social norms

Flexible activity

Learning and development activities around social norms, gender-role expectations, myths, stereotypes and media representations. This can include learning about media representations associated with gender roles, sexual and substance risk-taking and peer pressure.

Myths, stereotypes, media misrepresentations and gender-role expectations can influence young people’s understanding of, and response to, topics associated with risk-taking such as sexual health and illicit substances. Learning about sources of misinformation can aid with critical thinking around social norms and commonly-held beliefs and values.

How can it be implemented?

This content can be delivered via structured or unstructured learning, multimedia or social media platforms, interactive sessions, review sessions and through home-learning, homework and at-home practice.

Structured learning:

  • Structured learning includes lessons or educational messages that follow a protocol, plan or guide. Examples include established curriculum delivered by trained facilitators.

Unstructured learning:

  • Unstructured learning includes lessons or educational messages that do not follow a prescribed pattern or sequence. This allows facilitators to deliver content in a manner more tailored and responsive to their program participants.

Multimedia or social media platforms:

  • Educational content can be delivered via web platforms, social media platforms, audio and/or visual streaming platforms and via text messaging.

Interactive sessions:

  • Educational content can also be delivered via interactive sessions including via group discussion, group work, peer learning, modelling and/or performances.

Review sessions:

  • Review sessions that reinforce learned educational content can assist to summarise key messages and embed learning.

Homework, at-home practice and written assignments:

  • Homework, at-home practice and written assignments can also reinforce learned content.

Who is the target group?

This flexible activity has been implemented with a number of different target groups. Key characteristics include:

  • 14-17 year-old male students
  • 10th grade girls from rural, low-income high schools
  • Young adults aged 18-19
  • Grade 9 high school students
  • Students enrolled in continuation high schools
  • Young people in non-public high schools serviced by a substance abuse prevention agency

What programs conduct this activity?

  • In Guy Talk, one of eight educational sessions focuses on understanding gender-role expectations.
  • In HEART (Health Education and Relationship Training), students learn about sexual norms and attitudes via online educational modules.
  • In Media Aware – High School, students analyse media messages with a focus on how media messages frequently omit information or provide misinformation about the use of contraception or protection.
  • Similarly, in Media Aware (Sexual Health Program for Young Adults), students analyse and evaluate popular media messages and media representations of gender roles, sexual violence, consent and sex and substance use.
  • In Project Towards No Drug Abuse (TND), students learn that believing in stereotypes can lead to self-fulfilling prophecies and put one at risk by limiting the choices of both the person who is stereotyping and the target of the stereotype. They also learn to identify myths associated with drug use, how to distinguish a truth from a falsehood, and how people use various beliefs to deny or justify their drug abuse.
  • In Refuse, Remove, Reasons (RRR), the curriculum contains five critical components, one of which is normative education on health consequences of substance use.

What else should I consider?

Learning and development activities should take into account the age and developmental maturity of the targeted cohort. Educational materials and lessons should be age-appropriate and where relevant, culturally sensitive and appropriate.

If online or video activities are going to be implemented, service providers and participants will require access to devices and/or software to view and engage with the content.

Further resources

Last updated:

24 Nov 2022

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