Developing and Evaluating Fraud Informatics Curriculum among Institutions in the Appalachian Region

Dongwon Lee

Sponsoring Agency
National Science Foundation


As computer systems and information technologies rapidly advance, various abusive and fraudulent activities ("frauds") proliferate in the cyber world. This proliferation undermines the ecosystem of information systems and the cyber world, making it critically important for the general public, and in particular cybersecurity students, to be aware of popular online frauds, their implications to businesses and societies, and possible methods of prevention and solutions. However, curricula dedicated to online fraud, including new types of fraud, are lacking from existing cybersecurity curricula. To help address the threats of cyberspace and the knowledge gaps in cybersecurity curricula, this collaborative project between Penn State University (PSU) and Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU) proposes to: (1) develop a fraud informatics curriculum with three delivery options (15-week-long offline, 5-week-long online, and 1-day offline), and (2) validate the effectiveness of this curriculum and learning materials by assessing changes in participants' knowledge, skills, and behaviors.

This project will incorporate research-based pedagogical methods (i.e., group-based learning, context-based learning, and hands-on learning) to develop learning materials in three delivery options. The curriculum will be uniquely cohesive in its emphasis on recent online fraud and phenomena such as spam emails, social engineering attacks, astroturfing, misinformation, disinformation and data-driven solutions for detecting and preventing such frauds. The curriculum will be delivered by approximately 10 instructors to 400 undergraduate students in the Appalachian region and beyond. The goal is for the curriculum to strengthen the workforce development pipeline, and to ultimately contribute to an unrivaled, diverse cybersecurity workforce and citizenry. Pedagogical findings and course materials will benefit general computing education, specifically students focusing on cybersecurity in broader scientific and engineering communities throughout the nation. Materials developed through this project will be freely available from a project web site:

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

Research Area
Privacy and Security