Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


ATLAS Institute

First Advisor

Dr. Lecia Barker

Second Advisor

Ms. Aileen Pierce

Third Advisor

Dr. Susan Jurow

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Catherine Ashcraft

Fifth Advisor

Dr. Matthew Berland


Student hackathons are a type of demographic-specific event that are aimed at college students. Students may attend hackathons because they provide an opportunity for informal learning, networking, and building products for social change Hackathons are usually designed to give their participants opportunities to learn or expand their technical skill sets. During the process of building a project, participants learn about project management, task delegation, and the organization and production of a hack with a working demo within the limited time span. Hackathons are great at giving their participants informal and incidental learning opportunities. Participants may have different goals or motivations for attending a hackathon that can change how they participate in the event. Student hackathons have been growing in popularity over the last decade and are only becoming more popular as the computing field grows in size and demand. In the 2017-2018 school year, over 71,000 students in North America and Europe and over participated in a student hackathon. In 2017, every US university with a top-ranked computer science department hosted at least one student hackathon. However, despite their popularity with students, research about student hackathons is sparse and little work has been done studying student experiences at these events. There are also fewer women attending hackathons than men, on average, only 23% of the participants are women. This dissertation is situated within the existing hackathon literature and complements the work showing hackathons as places of informal and situated learning.