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Designing a Creative Cybersecurity Microcredential for Educators: Challenges and Successes of K-12 Teacher Professional Development

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Continuing Professional Development Division Technical Session 1

Tagged Division

Continuing Professional Development

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


Bekir Mugayitoglu University of Wyoming

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Bekir Mugayitoglu received his doctorate in Instructional Technology and Leadership from Duquesne University’s School of Education in 2016. His research investigated the factors that influence pre-service teachers’ attitudes about the importance of computational thinking and methods of teaching computational thinking to prepare students for computer programming. He worked for Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Academy as a content developer of immersive video games for computational thinking, robotics, and STEM-based investigations. Dr. Mugayitoglu has also taught programming languages such as Python, Alice, Scratch, and ROBOTC at the undergraduate level. While working for Robomatter, Inc., an educational robotics company, he developed STEM educational solutions that emphasized computational thinking and age-appropriate programming skills, and conducted professional learning for educators online and face-to-face on how to value and integrate computational thinking practices into classrooms. He is currently a postdoctoral research associate and the project leader of a cybersecurity micro-credential at the University of Wyoming. Dr. Mugayitoglu has more than 16 publications, including peer-reviewed conference papers, conference posters, conference presentations, a journal article, and a book chapter.

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Mike Borowczak University of Wyoming Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Mike Borowczak is an Assitant Professor of Computer Science and the Director of the Cybersecurity Education and Research center (CEDAR) at the University of Wyoming. He earned his Ph.D. in Computer Science and Engineering (2013) as well as his BS in Computer Engineering (2007) from the University of Cincinnati. His research focused on detection and prevention of information leakage from hardware side channels. His current research interests include investigating the safety, resilience, and security of decentralized components, devices, and system architectures from theoretical modeling, to simulation and practical implementations. He is also involved in K-20 CS/cybersecurity education research and was the 2019 RMS ASEE conference co-chair.

Mike also has over a decade of industry and research experience – mostly revolving around the semiconductor and bioinformatics industries – with specific experience at Texas Instruments, Intel, and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. In addition to his industry experience, Mike spent two years, while completing his Ph.D., as a National Science Foundation GK-12 fellow – teaching and bringing real-world STEM applications in two urban high schools. Since then, he has worked with university faculty to promote and extend K20 STEM outreach in Ohio, Oregon, Texas, and Wyoming.
He has authored peer-reviewed articles and papers, presented at national and international conferences, and taught undergraduate/graduate courses in Computer Security, Data Mining, VLSI and pedagogy in STEM.

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Andrea Carneal Burrows University of Wyoming Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Andrea C. Burrows is a Professor and Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs at the University of Wyoming (UW) in the College of Education (CoEd). She received her doctorate degree from the University of Cincinnati in 2011. She was awarded the UW CoEd Early Career Fellowship (2013), UW CoEd Faculty Award for Outstanding Research and Scholarship (2015), UW CoEd Faculty Award for Outstanding Service to the Education Profession (2016), UW CoEd Honored Fall Convocation Faculty (2017), and UW CoEd Faculty Award for Outstanding Research and Scholarship (2019). Since beginning at UW, Burrows has written, implemented, or evaluated over 50 unique grants. She has been the Program Director for GenCyber as well as PI of NSF grants for STEM and CS work. The core of her research agenda is to deepen science, mathematics, engineering, and technology (STEM) partnership involvement and understanding through STEM interdisciplinary integration with in-service teacher professional development (PD) and pre-service teacher coursework. Her research agenda is composed of a unified STEM education partnership structure and connects educational research to real-world practices. Burrows’ many publications appear in leading journals. She is the Co-Editor of CITE-Journal Science ( She is active and presents in several organizations such as AERA, ASEE, ASTE, NSTA, and SITE. Before beginning her work in higher education, she taught secondary school science for 12 years in Florida and Virginia (USA). 

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Developing foundational cybersecurity knowledge within our society is a critical need for our well-being and protection. At present, there is a dearth of access to fundamental cybersecurity knowledge within student and educator populations. This study can inform engineering educators through professional development with its use of design thinking strategies and be used as a model. With this concept in mind, this study focuses on the impact of a short-term (few week) cybersecurity micro-credential for K-12 teachers that included resources that aligned to the needs of their students. Over the of two iterations of this micro-credential study, the authors sought to answer the research question, “What are the micro-credential cybersecurity successes and challenges identified by the participants based on design thinking framework?” A total of 21 K-12 teacher participants engaged with two micro-credential experiences. The micro-credential includes unplugged activities via cybercards, essential vocabularies, and online research-backed resources and focused on an introduction to cybersecurity, the CIA Triad (Confidentiality, Integrity, and Accessibility), Abstraction, Modularity, and Least Privilege. This study utilized a mixed-methods approach. Qualitative data included observational field notes, bi-weekly progress reports, researcher interviews of 13 K-12 teachers, and notes from a focus group meeting with the K-12 teacher participants. The semi-structured interview questions focus groups notes, and bi-weekly progress reports were coded and grouped into major themes. Additionally, quantitative data including sub-scale concerns were obtained from the attitude survey responses. Using qualitative and quantitative analysis methods, the authors isolated specific successes and challenges experienced by K-12 teachers during their engagement with the pilot micro-credentials. Findings include a positive impact on the concerns about computer science between pre-test, post-test, and secondary post-test scores. Additionally, there is a relationship between specific micro-credential materials and teacher’s self-confidence at integrating cybersecurity concepts within their own K-12 classroom. The limitations are included. The study showcases innovative and practical tools for teaching cybersecurity, and has implications for teacher educators, technology educators, and those that work in local, state, national educator spaces, and those creating and implementing professional development.

Mugayitoglu, B., & Borowczak, M., & Burrows, A. C. (2021, July), Designing a Creative Cybersecurity Microcredential for Educators: Challenges and Successes of K-12 Teacher Professional Development Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--36927

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