The Future of Education

Edition 14

Accepted Abstracts

Teaching Cybersecurity Masters: Student Coding Assessment and Engagement with Online Content

Tati Tchoubar, New York University, Tandon School of Engineering (United States)

Siva Raj Rajagopalan, New York University, Tandon School of Engineering (United States)


Cybersecurity workforce is experiencing rapid growth due to the scale of cyberattacks. NYU Tandon Online created an innovative Masters Cyber Fellows program for the working professionals willing to level up their skills in response to the job market demand. Teaching online one of the foundational courses of the program, Information Systems Security Engineering and Management, necessitate catering to heterogeneous student population, including recent Bachelors in Computer Science as well as many years’ graduates from other fields who change their professional path as a part of life-long learning. Course requires programming in Python, so getting all the students to acceptable proficiency in coding represents a challenge for the instructor, teaching assistants and the instructional designer of the online course. Another imperative need is to scale up the coding assignment assessment and grading, because of the high enrollment numbers. Using experimental approach, course teaching team implemented group peer assessment. The innovation in group formation was based on inclusive course design, where each group had a role of “coder” filled following the outcomes of a Python pre-test administered to all the course students at the start of the course. Such equitable peer-review group formation improved student success with coding assignments and with final project, as well as relieved the pressure on teaching assistants allowing them to increase the quality of one-on-one consultations. Engagement of the students with the online course content was stimulated by including the links to the weekly readings directly in the Quiz question hints. These two instructional design innovations significantly improved student success and satisfaction with online cybersecurity teaching and learning. Recommendations are provided for the future research.

Keywords student assessment, E-learning, adult education, enhancing student engagement, online content, backwards learning

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