Using the Hackathon Model in Social Work Education

Julie Cwikel, Meital Simhi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


A recent innovation adapted from the world of commercial computer hacking is known as a Hackathon event. Hackathons are characterized by problem-solving in small groups, under time pressure, to develop creative solutions to a challenging problem. This paper presents the evaluation of a Hackathon applied in two courses on trauma-informed practice (one BSW and the other at MSW level). Students (N = 57) developed interventions to address group and community trauma presented in case studies. Social work doctoral students served as judges (N = 5), evaluated the presentations and selected the winning team. The evaluation showed that the students and judges felt that the Hackathon promoted learning, creativity, teamwork and the incorporation of concepts learned in the course. The competitiveness and being judged were viewed as negative aspects by the students and the judges concurred that the competition detracted from the educational experience. More research is needed on how to apply the Hackathon model to other types of social work curricula including the teaching of various research methods. The current COVID-19 pandemic is challenging the social work profession to address its myriad social implications. How to adapt social work practice toward the incorporation of e-therapy and e-consultation might benefit from Hackathon brainstorming.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1563-1576
Number of pages14
JournalSocial Work Education
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2022


  • Hackathon
  • cooperative learning
  • small group technique
  • social work innovation
  • trauma course content

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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