An Exploratory Study Examining Group Dynamics in a Hackathon

An Exploratory Study Examining Group Dynamics in a Hackathon

Alana Pulay (Washington State University, Pullman, USA) and Tutaleni I. Asino (Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, USA)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 10
DOI: 10.4018/IJVAR.2019070101

Abstract

Pairing virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) in a hackathon is beginning to receive attention. VR and AR tools have the potential to support different types of skill sets and help promote synergistic interconnections between team members. Since little is known about how a hackathon can contribute towards group dynamics, this exploratory study compared team dynamics that occurred in multidisciplinary groups during a weekend hackathon. Twenty-two multidisciplinary undergraduate and graduate students, in addition to two campus professionals, participated in the event held on a mid-size university in the South-Central Midwest of the United States. The groups were deliberately created by the research team to support different skill sets and disciplines based upon the in-group bias framework. Observations and video recordings occurred throughout the 2-day hackathon event. The non-obtrusive-participant observations resulted in noticeable differences between group dynamics in collaboration, teamwork, work style, and group presentations.
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Introduction

Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) tools are becoming increasing visible across various sectors globally. Although VR has existed in various manifestations since the 1960s (Jensen & Flemming, 2017), it has been defined differently by varied authors. Schroeder (1996) viewed VR as “a computer-generated display that allows or compels the user (or users) to have a sense of being present in an environment other than the one they are actually in, and to interact with that environment” (p. 25). Augmented Reality on the other hand can be defined as the combined existence of real and virtual objects in the same space that the user can interacted with in real time (Azuma, 1997; Bower, Howe, McCredie, Robinson & Grover, 2014). The appeal of VR is that it gives a user the impression of being present in a different environment, and similarly, the appeal of augmented reality is that it can provide data or information in real time context that can overlay on an object in the physical world.

While VR and AR are not yet at a ubiquitous state (often limited by digital divide and to those with means to buy expensive devices), the excitement and possibility they offer are regularly discussed in educational contexts as well as in various industries where they are seen as possible mechanisms for providing training (Xu, Lu, Guan, Chen, & Ren, 2014). Amongst the varied possibilities, VR and AR tools have the potential to not only support different types of skill sets, but also help promote synergistic interconnections between team members working in a group (McLellan, 1994; Pantelidis, 1997). One of the ways to achieve this is by integrating them into hackathon practices especially with student populations in programs where using emerging technologies is the norm. In other words, pairing VR, AR and hackathons, can provide different affordance which are beginning to receive research attention.

Hackathons are becoming increasingly common. They are often used to facilitate and promote multi-disciplinary collaborations, learning and innovation generation (Karlsen & Løvlie, 2017). A hackathon is a fast-paced innovation event, often lasting several days with a large number of participants in multiple disciplines. Participants come together to solve a problem and often create or quickly build functional software that can receive additional future development (Mulholland, & Meredig, 2015; Page, Sweeney, Bruce, & Baxter, 2016). The frequency of hackathons that use virtual and augmented reality to solve problems are increasing (see: Alamari, Alabdulkarim & Al-Wabil, 2019; Horton, Jordan, Weiner, & Lande, 2018; Juraschek, Büth, Posselt, & Herrmann, 2018; Schoeb, Hein, Dressier, Adams, Schlager, & Miernik, 2018). Since multiple disciplines and stakeholders are involved in solving a complex issue in a short amount of time, the design process that is composed of group work has been shown to often lead to innovative design solutions (Sutton & Kemp, 2002).

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