Enhancing Student Learning in Cybersecurity Education using an Out-of-class Learning Approach

Hwee-Joo Kam, Pairin Katerattanakul
Journal of Information Technology Education: Innovations in Practice  •  Volume 18  •  2019  •  pp. 029-047

In this study, the researchers investigated whether the out-of-class learning approach could help the students to attain any valuable learning outcomes for cybersecurity learning and could enhance the perceived value of cybersecurity education among the students.

Cybersecurity learning poses challenges for its students to learn a complicated subject matter and the students may be intimidated by the challenging courses in cybersecurity programs. Therefore, it is essential for the faculty members to devise some mechanisms to promote cybersecurity learning to increase its student retention. The mechanism suggested by this study was the out-of-class learning approach.

The researchers in this study employed a content analysis and adopted a semiotic method to analyze qualitative data. The researchers also conducted crosstabulation analyses using chi-square tests to detect the significant differences in the emerging learning outcomes from the two different out-of-class learning activities investigated in this study.

This study addressed the difficulty of cybersecurity education and proposed a viable mechanism to promote the student learning in such a complicated subject matter.

For cybersecurity education, the out-of-class learning approach is a viable pedagogical mechanism that could lead the students to several learning outcomes, including connecting them to the real-life scenarios related to the cybersecurity profession, guiding them to their career choices and development, stimulating their intellectual growth, creating their justification of learning, and raising their cybersecurity awareness.

The instructors of any cybersecurity programs should incorporate some out-of-class learning activities into the courses in their programs, especially the introductory-level courses. Additionally, it is important to coordinate the out-of-class learning activities with the in-class lessons to enable the students to justify what they have learned in their classrooms and motivate them to learn more.

Researchers could look beyond in-class learning and laboratory learning to investigate the impacts of out-of-class learning activities on cybersecurity education to help the students to attain better learning outcomes.

By promoting cybersecurity education, universities and colleges could attain a higher retention rate of the students in their cybersecurity programs. The higher retention rate of the students in cybersecurity programs would help to ease the critical shortage of cybersecurity talent.

Future research could explore the impacts of other out-of-class learning activities on cybersecurity learning; for example: job shadowing, attending cybersecurity conferences, internship, developing cybersecurity systems or tools for actual customers, working on cybersecurity research with faculty members. Additionally, future studies could investigate the effects of the out-of-class learning approach on promoting other academic programs that are characterized by intensely complex and technical nature, similar to cybersecurity programs.

cybersecurity education, out-of-class learning, learning outcomes
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