Adapting Hackathon-Honed Skills Toward Software Engineering Capstone

Cecilia La Place, Shawn S. Jordan

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Coding marathons known as hackathons are informal teaching and learning environments where students build skills they can use in class, and design innovative projects they can use to pursue industry employment. Though many elements of undergraduate engineering programs facilitate similar outcomes, students still seek out hackathons as a means to obtain more real-world experience. Prior work has shown that students are enticed to attend hackathons to take advantage of independent learning and networking opportunities. Prior work also suggests that hackathons engage students by incorporating a culture of teaching and learning through self-regulated learning, and through sharing and learning with other participants. This prompts the applicability of hackathons in the classroom and inquiry into students' transferable skills development. Exploring this query benefits students who struggle in class by examining alternative engagements and technical development opportunities. Extending existing work to examine if and how students develop and apply skills developed during hackathons in the classroom, the following research questions guided this study: 1. What technical knowledge do students use in capstones and hackathons? 2. Where do students learn the knowledge used in capstones and hackathons? 3. How does the software development process used by students differ between capstone and hackathon projects? This paper builds upon a previously published work in progress, finding that students who attended hackathons and a project-based learning Software Engineering degree, built transferable skills between hackathons and capstones. Participants described the employment of software design methodologies in both hackathons and capstone projects, various problem solving and researching approaches used, and a distinct level of attention to the context of development, informal or formal, to determine their courses of actions. Leveraging adaptive expertise as a lens to understand the development of learning mechanisms and problem-solving processes, we position hackathons as a valuable supplement to Computer Science and Software Engineering coursework as it engages students in project development, problem-solving, and learning through dynamic constraints.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Aug 23 2022
Event129th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition: Excellence Through Diversity, ASEE 2022 - Minneapolis, United States
Duration: Jun 26 2022Jun 29 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


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