Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Cyber Operations


Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

First Advisor

Mark A. Reith, PhD


The United States Air Force and Department of Defense continues to rely on its total workforce to provide the first layer of protection against cyber intrusion. Prior research has shown that the workforce is not adequately educated to perform this task. As a result, DoD cybersecurity strategy now includes attempting to improve education and training on cyber-related concepts and technical skills to all users of DoD networks. This paper describes an experiment designed to understand the broad methods that non-expert users may use to educate themselves on how to perform technical tasks. Preliminary results informed subsequent experiments that directly compared frequently utilized, but flawed resources to improved versions of those resources to determine preferable educational methods. This paper provides the protocol and population characteristics for both phases of the experiment, results from phase one, and preliminary results from phase two. In a related effort, the Air Force Institute of Technology is designing and implementing an online learning platform for centralizing a variety of cyber-educational materials. This platform is built-on prior groundbreaking research understanding how people, especially young people, learn best in the modern era. This thesis will assist in informing the design of educational platforms, like AFIT’s, by providing a unique understanding of how participants search for and select cyber-education on their own, and demonstrating which self-instruction resources are the most and least effective. This is the first experiment of its kind to combine human subject provided variables, while attempting to statistically measure those human provided variables in the cyber-education domain.

AFIT Designator


DTIC Accession Number