OHI/O Program Evaluation

Hackathons as Powerful Bridges to the Real World

Vicki Simmerman & Ana-Paula Correia

For the past few years,  the Department of Engineering at The Ohio State University has been the leader for OHI/O, a “program dedicated to fostering tech culture at The Ohio State University” (Nandi & Mandernach, 2016). The OHI/O Hackathon that takes place every fall at the Ohio Union is one of the program’s best-known events. This 24-hour  event has produced some workable practical and relevant products for use in industry and education but more importantly provides an “informal learning platform” that offers a new pedagogy for learning.  An evaluation study was conducted on the October 2017 OHI/O Hackathon.

Providing authentic learning in an informal environment, hackathons provide opportunities despite the usual steep learning curve in computer science.

Three different surveys were administered, opportunistic interviews and event observations were conducted. The most indicative of the success of the program was the over 14o participants’ response to the question “Would you return to another Hackathon?” Even after 24 straight hours of working, coding, creating and staying awake,  the response was clearly positive. The question of whether to return to another hackathon yielded an almost 89% “yes” response.

Graph showing responses to the question “Would you return to another Hackathon?”

Six responses yielded a “no” and 9 participants said, “maybe”.  Almost every “no” response was due to either graduation or not being a student.  One “no” response was entered due to feel ineffective and only one “no” response listed dissatisfaction with the event itself.  Reasons for the other answers vary, but most comments indicated that informal learning, cooperative working, and tech culture creation were achieved during this event,  a stated goal of the OHI/O 2017 Hackathon.

This evaluation study has been presented at the 2018 Ohio State’s College of Education and Human Ecology Student Research Forum, Columbus, OH, February 23, 2018.

Simmerman at the 2018 Ohio State’s College of Education and Human Ecology Student Research Forum.


Nandi, A., Mandernach, M. (2016). Hackathons as an Informal Learning Platform. SIGCSE ’16, March 02 – 05, 2016, Memphis, TN, USA.