Marymount professors awarded NSF grant to train next generation of cybersecurity educators

Two Professors of Information Management at Marymount University, Dr. Diane Murphy and Dr. Donna Schaeffer, received a joint $481,761 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to create and implement an innovative program to address the need for more teachers in the cybersecurity field.
Their proposal, titled “CyberTeach: From Cybersecurity Professional to Cybersecurity Professor,” was selected through the NSF’s Secure and Trustworthy Cyberspace (Education) category. The grant will provide funding to 30 doctoral students – 10 students annually for three years – and prepare them for a teaching role through workshops and mentored teaching experiences during their studies. It also will allow for additional graduate assistant funding, modest support for Dr. Murphy and Dr. Schaeffer’s work and provide time for Dr. Joseph Provenzano and Dr. Michelle Steiner from Marymount’s Center for Teaching & Learning to create, coordinate and teach the workshops, as well as evaluate program outcomes.
“There is a huge demand for cybersecurity professionals today, but there is also a big demand for educators to develop that workforce,” Dr. Murphy said. “This grant is about developing doctoral-seeking, working cybersecurity professionals into effective post-secondary teachers by training them to teach and supporting them in their initial teaching initiatives.”
In their proposal, Dr. Murphy and Dr. Schaeffer explain their goal of improving the effectiveness of higher education cybersecurity programs, whether through high school dual enrollment, community college or four-year institutions. The project seeks to develop a credentialing program for high-level cybersecurity professionals who are currently enrolled so they can expand their skills in areas like innovative teaching strategies, engaging students in the classroom, assessing student learning through different strategies, incorporating student research into a course and preparing for the workforce.
They add that stronger knowledge of education principles and practices, particularly in STEM-related fields, leads to better teaching.
“All students at Claremont Graduate University, where I received my Ph.D. in Information Systems, were required to take three doctoral-level courses outside of our majors,” Dr. Schaeffer said. “I took courses in higher education, which proved to be very helpful to my teaching career. I’m thrilled to offer our doctoral students the opportunity to study and practice teaching. The cybersecurity field needs good educators, and we aim to address that need.”
The principal investigators also believe this project will lead to another key result – increased diversity, especially women, in the cybersecurity workforce. Dr. Murphy and Dr. Schaeffer said incentives like tuition reimbursement for doctoral-level classes will encourage a broader set of cybersecurity professionals to enter the CyberTeach program, and become role models of diversity to the students that they teach.
Congratulations to both Dr. Murphy and Dr. Schaeffer for their hard work on this forward-thinking project, as well as their relentless support for the students of Marymount and the School of Business and Technology!