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Thomas, L. J., Balders, M., Countney, Z., Zhong, C., Yao, J., Xu, C..  2019.  Cybersecurity Education: From Beginners to Advanced Players in Cybersecurity Competitions. 2019 IEEE International Conference on Intelligence and Security Informatics (ISI). :149—151.

Cybersecurity competitions have been shown to be an effective approach for promoting student engagement through active learning in cybersecurity. Players can gain hands-on experience in puzzle-based or capture-the-flag type tasks that promote learning. However, novice players with limited prior knowledge in cybersecurity usually found difficult to have a clue to solve a problem and get frustrated at the early stage. To enhance student engagement, it is important to study the experiences of novices to better understand their learning needs. To achieve this goal, we conducted a 4-month longitudinal case study which involves 11 undergraduate students participating in a college-level cybersecurity competition, National Cyber League (NCL) competition. The competition includes two individual games and one team game. Questionnaires and in-person interviews were conducted before and after each game to collect the players' feedback on their experience, learning challenges and needs, and information about their motivation, interests and confidence level. The collected data demonstrate that the primary concern going into these competitions stemmed from a lack of knowledge regarding cybersecurity concepts and tools. Players' interests and confidence can be increased by going through systematic training.