• Alfred R. SchademanEmail author


The purpose of this study is to examine the kinds of reasoning that African American young men learn and develop when playing Spades, a common cultural practice in African American communities. The qualitative study found that the Spades players routinely consider multiple variables and their mathematical relationships when making decisions. The variables considered by the players when bidding include card strength, the number of cards held in any particular suit, player bidding tendencies, player levels of expertise, the current score of the game, and the level of confidence in one’s partner. The paper claims that the forms of reasoning explored in this study connect well to those of scientists who engage in modeling: a central practice in science. A major implication is that model-based instruction in science classrooms is akin to cultural modeling (Lee in American Educational Research Journal, 38(1), 97–141, 2001), as the pedagogy leverages the assets and resources of African American young men learned through cultural practice. Such pedagogies could therefore have a positive effect upon engagement and achievement of African American young men in science.

Key words

African American cultural practice model-based instruction modeling science education Spades 


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Copyright information

© Ministry of Science and Technology, Taiwan 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.California State University, ChicoChicoUSA

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