ASERT Approach


Our research team has developed and tested the Action-Oriented Stakeholder Engagement for a Resilient Tomorrow (ASERT) framework as a participatory approach to engage stakeholders in adaptation actions related to flooding and sea level rise (SLR). The ASERT framework is designed to help policymakers, planners, community leaders, and others ensure broad stakeholder engagement (beyond simple public participation) that emphasizes action-oriented resilient responses to flooding and SLR. While resilience is both an outcome and a process, our approach emphasizes the latter, focusing on learning and taking responsibility for making decisions that improve adaptive capacity.

The ASERT methodology builds on two key elements: (1) participatory processes consistent with Structured Public Involvement (SPI); and (2) engagement approaches built upon gamification.

ASERT uses deliberative and participative mechanisms that build on Structured Public Involvement (SPI). SPI offers proven techniques to help a diverse and inclusive mix of stakeholders better understand community values, challenges, fears, and solutions.

  • SPI integrates dialogic group methods (such as the use of Audience Response Systems, or ARS), visual representation technologies (e.g. maps, visual renderings) and decision support modeling tools
  • SPI has been used successfully in public engagement for complex and contentious infrastructure decisions across the U.S.

ASERT’s success in engaging stakeholders in action-oriented resilience efforts relies on incorporating active learning and social learning mechanisms to first motivate learning about and subsequently action. Building on social constructivist theory and the ARCS Motivation Model, ASERT’s gamified engagement approach was designed to motivate participation, connect participation and learning to resilience outcomes, and, through gameful experiences, embed participants within a community that increases confidence in their own knowledge/action and rewards learning and action.

Gamification enhances engagement by incorporating both internal and external motivation factors to increase participation and action. Gamification, like games, presents clear objectives which can be developed into short-term achievable goals. Much like the ability to progress to ascending levels in traditional games, participants in a gamified environment are able to earn points and rewards (intangible or tangible), and, in some instances, compete with others in a community.

ASERT’s gamification approach builds on key elements of learning posited by two theories or models: (1) the ARCS motivation model, and (2) social constructivist theory.

The gamification approach underpinning ASERT incorporates active learning, social learning, and digital technology to more effectively create awareness, educate about risks and response, and encourage preparedness and resilience. Key features of the approach include:

  • Participants actively learn while completing activities and reflect on the activity completed.
  • Social learning takes place through dissemination and sharing of activity completion, reflection, and learning through social media
  • Use of digital technology provides for broader reach and anytime (24/7) learning at participant’s convenience
  • Participants earn points and rewards for completion of tasks, then level up and increase their prominence on the leaderboard

Our ASERT approach incorporates four dimensions of learning motivation of the ARCS motivation model:

  • Attention: increasing the attention and curiosity of learners through the use of different media;
  • Relevance: emphasizing the relevance of the learning content to the learner;
  • Confidence: completing the learning task and building confidence through the learning process;
  • Satisfaction: providing satisfaction or reward during the learning process.

Building on the ARCS model, the ASERT approach adopts a gamified learning strategy and combines game elements to address dimensions of the ARCS model. Gameful experiences capture participants’ attention, increases confidence in their ability to engage, and rewards learning and participation.

The ASERT approach also builds on social constructivist theory and focuses on participation and learning as a centered around the participant.

  • Knowledge is established through interaction between individuals and their environments.
  • Individuals learn through interactions with others and with the environments within which they are located.
  • Learning is a social process, and meaningful learning occurs when individuals are engaged in social activities.

The ASERT approach embeds learners within a community and connects learning about resilience to the environment within which learners reside. Through gameful experiences, participants complete tasks related to their self-perceived resilience needs.

The ASERT gamified approach to building resilience was applied and tested on the Old Dominion University campus in the Fall 2016 and Spring 2017 semesters, in a project called the Race to Monarch Ready (R2MR).

About SPI

  • Bailey, K., Blandford, B., et al. 2011. Planning, technology, and legitimacy: Structured public involvement in integrated transportation and land-use planning in the United States. Environment and Planning Part B, 38(3), 447-467
  • Bailey, K., Brumm, J., & Grossardt, T. 2002. Integrating visualization into structured public involvement: case study of highway improvement in central Kentucky. Transportation Research Record, 1817, 50-57
  • Bailey, K., Grossardt, T., et al. 2007. Structured public involvement in context-sensitive large bridge design using casewise visual evaluation: Case study of Section 2 of Ohio River Bridges Project. Transportation Research Record, 2028, 19-27.

About ARCS model

  • Keller, J. M. (1983). Motivational design of instruction. In C. M. Reigeluth (Ed.), Instructional-design theories and models: An overview of their current status (pp. 386–434). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
  • Karoulis, A., & Demetriadis, S. (2005). The motivational factor in educational games. Interaction between learner’s internal and external representations in multimedia environments. Kaleidoscope NoE JEIRP, D21-02-01-F: Research Report, pp. 13-19.

About social constructivism

  • Gredler, M. E. (1997). Learning and instruction: Theory into practice (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.