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  1. In college cybersecurity education, problem-based learning has been introduced to promote student agency in solving a complex problem. However, a dilemma of balancing the student agency persist and previous research has focused on students’ cognitive, metacognitive, and regulatory to enhance the efficacy of PBL. Given the importance of students’ self-awareness of their agency, this study suggests a concept of meta-agency as an essential learner characteristic that influences the effectiveness of student agency in PBL. Four dimensions of meta-agency, perceptions of productive struggle, expectation alignment between instructor and students, strategies for regulating agency, and familiarity with PBL tasks, were qualitatively explored with student interview data. Features of meta-agency and how students’ meta-agency level develop through cybersecurity PBL sessions were further investigated. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 18, 2024
  2. In problem-based learning (PBL), individual differences in students’ use of metacognition and self-regulation skills exist and calls for extensive research in postsecondary STEM education. This study focuses on students’ uncertainty management in PBL. A scale of the uncertainty management in PBL (UM-PBL) was developed. Exploratory factor analysis was conducted and showed that the UM-PBL has substantial reliability and a total of 14 items across three constructs of a) perception of uncertainty in learning to solve problems, b) self-efficacy in and c) strategy for uncertainty management. Gender differences in the first two constructs were found, confirming its known-group validation. Students’ problem-solving scores were positively correlated with scores of the first two constructs, suggesting its predictability of its relationship with academic performance. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 13, 2024
  3. Knowledge graphs gained popularity in recent years and have been useful for concept visualization and contextual information retrieval in various applications. However, constructing a knowledge graph by scraping long and complex unstructured texts for a new domain in the absence of a well-defined ontology or an existing labeled entity-relation dataset is difficult. Domains such as cybersecurity education can harness knowledge graphs to create a student-focused interactive and learning environment to teach cybersecurity. Learning cybersecurity involves gaining the knowledge of different attack and defense techniques, system setup and solving multi-facet complex real-world challenges that demand adaptive learning strategies and cognitive engagement. However, there are no standard datasets for the cybersecurity education domain. In this research work, we present a bottom-up approach to curate entity-relation pairs and construct knowledge graphs and question-answering models for cybersecurity education. To evaluate the impact of our new learning paradigm, we conducted surveys and interviews with students after each project to find the usefulness of bot and the knowledge graphs. Our results show that students found these tools informative for learning the core concepts and they used knowledge graphs as a visual reference to cross check the progress that helped them complete the project tasks. 
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  4. Lecture-based teaching paired with laboratory-based exercises is most commonly used in cybersecurity instruction. However, it focuses more on theories and models but fails to provide learners with practical problem-solving skills and opportunities to explore real-world cybersecurity challenges. Problem-based Learning (PBL) has been identified as an efficient pedagogy for many disciplines, especially engineering education. It provides learners with real-world complex problem scenarios, which encourages learners to collaborate with classmates, ask questions and develop a deeper understanding of the concepts while solving real-world cybersecurity problems. This paper describes the application of the PBL methodology to enhance professional training-based cybersecurity education. The authors developed an online laboratory environment to apply PBL with Knowledge-Graph (KG) based guidance for hands-on labs in cybersecurity training.Learners are provided access to a virtual lab environment with knowledge graph guidance to simulated real-life cybersecurity scenarios. Thus, they are forced to think independently and apply their knowledge to create cyber-attacks and defend approaches to solve problems provided to them in each lab. Our experimental study shows that learners tend to gain more enhanced learning outcomes by leveraging PBL with knowledge graph guidance, become more aware of cybersecurity and relevant concepts, and also express interest in keep learning of cybersecurity using our system. 
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  5. Hands-on practice is a critical component of cybersecurity education. Most of the existing hands-on exercises or labs materials are usually managed in a problem-centric fashion, while it lacks a coherent way to manage existing labs and provide productive lab exercising plans for cybersecurity learners. With the advantages of big data and natural language processing (NLP) technologies, constructing a large knowledge graph and mining concepts from unstructured text becomes possible, which motivated us to construct a machine learning based lab exercising plan for cybersecurity education. In the research presented by this paper, we have constructed a knowledge graph in the cybersecurity domain using NLP technologies including machine learning based word embedding and hyperlink-based concept mining. We then utilized the knowledge graph during the regular learning process based on the following approaches: 1. We constructed a web-based front-end to visualize the knowledge graph, which allows students to browse and search cybersecurity-related concepts and the corresponding interdependence relations; 2. We created a personalized knowledge graph for each student based on their learning progress and status; 3.We built a personalized lab recommendation system by suggesting more relevant labs based on students’ past learning history to maximize their learning outcomes. To measure the effectiveness of the proposed solution, we have conducted a use case study and collected survey data from a graduate-level cybersecurity class. Our study shows that, by leveraging the knowledge graph for the cybersecurity area study, students tend to benefit more and show more interests in cybersecurity area. 
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  6. This Innovate Practice full paper presents a cloud-based personalized learning lab platform. Personalized learning is gaining popularity in online computer science education due to its characteristics of pacing the learning progress and adapting the instructional approach to each individual learner from a diverse background. Among various instructional methods in computer science education, hands-on labs have unique requirements of understanding learner's behavior and assessing learner's performance for personalization. However, it is rarely addressed in existing research. In this paper, we propose a personalized learning platform called ThoTh Lab specifically designed for computer science hands-on labs in a cloud environment. ThoTh Lab can identify the learning style from student activities and adapt learning material accordingly. With the awareness of student learning styles, instructors are able to use techniques more suitable for the specific student, and hence, improve the speed and quality of the learning process. With that in mind, ThoTh Lab also provides student performance prediction, which allows the instructors to change the learning progress and take other measurements to help the students timely. For example, instructors may provide more detailed instructions to help slow starters, while assigning more challenging labs to those quick learners in the same class. To evaluate ThoTh Lab, we conducted an experiment and collected data from an upper-division cybersecurity class for undergraduate students at Arizona State University in the US. The results show that ThoTh Lab can identify learning style with reasonable accuracy. By leveraging the personalized lab platform for a senior level cybersecurity course, our lab-use study also shows that the presented solution improves students engagement with better understanding of lab assignments, spending more effort on hands-on projects, and thus greatly enhancing learning outcomes. 
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