Using Content Analysis to Evaluate Student Inquiry-based Learning: The Case of High School Students Preparing for a Cyber Defense Competition
Julie Rursch, Douglas Jacobson, Andy Luse
2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition Proceedings
Julie A. Rursch is currently is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Iowa State University. She will graduate with a degree in computer engineering with a focus on secure computing. Her research includes a unique approach to critical infrastructure modeling which provides emergency planners and first responders with resilient and flexible critical infrastructure evaluation in the face of non-recurrent, disruptive events. Her approach creates a new
... m for modeling critical infrastructure sectors, analyzing real-time physical data, and providing best fit mitigations to impending failures and responses. Abstract Inquiry-based learning is a documented, successful method to increase student understanding in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) areas, as well as a way to facilitate critical thinking. This type of instruction allows students to explore science and resolve problems by reviewing what they know, seeking out additional information about the problem, and coming to a conclusion or resolution based upon evidence they have gathered. This paper evaluates a high school outreach program designed to increase student learning about information technology (IT), in this case specifically information security. The high school students who participated in the outreach program spent the year using the learning materials provided by Iowa State University, asking their own questions about network security and information assurance, exploring additional resources, and determining how to solve the challenges of setting up a secure and viable network. The capstone event for students who participated in the IT club is a two-day cyber defense competition (CDC) on the Iowa State University campus. During the remote setup, the high school students were able to log into a chat room and ask for guidance or clarification from college students supporting the equipment on campus. These chat conversations were logged and this paper utilizes content analysis to quantitatively analyze the chat conversations in terms of the students progressing through Bloom's taxonomy. The results demonstrated that students were in the Applying, Analyzing and Evaluating stages of learning, showing that the students did perform active and complex thinking in designing, configuring, and securing their cyber defense competition networks.