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Subject Matter Analysis:
Identifying Extant Data

Example Assignment

Problem statement

The activity director at the local chapter of the American Association for Retired Persons (AARP) wishes to take a group of members to Las Vegas for a weekend get away. In addition to sightseeing, the director knows many members want to play slot machines and card games. The director stated a desire exists by members to learn the card game "Black Jack." Although this may be one of the safer games for her membership, the director is concerned because most members are on a fixed income, and she is worried they may loose too much money if they don't understand how to properly play the game.

The needs assessment recommended the creation of a job aid to help players know when to ask and not ask for additional cards, and an instructional lesson to help members learn the basic rules of Black Jack and to help players interpret their job aid.

Search strategy for ERIC

Potential descriptors:
  1. card game or Black Jack
  2. gamble or wager
  3. strategy
Boolean logic operators:

Terms 1 and 2
Terms 1 and 3
Terms 1 and 2 and 3


Combining terms in 1 produced 13076 citations
Combining terms 1 and 2 produced 2 citations-not valid entries
Combining terms 1 and 3 produced 279 citations-too many entries
Terms 1 and 2 and 3 was not conducted due to 1 and 2 not returning valid data
Search for Black Jack produced 30 citations-one valid

Reference source identified with ERIC:
Molinoski, M (1978). Black Jack. Arithmetic Teacher v25 n5 p52.

PAC system

PAC system call number used to locate journal
The Arithmetic Teacher. Call number: QA135 .A6

PAC search in card catalog using description: Playing cards
Golick, M (1973). Deal me in! the use of playing cards in learning and teaching. New York: J. Norton Publishers. Call Number: GV1243 .G6 1981

World Wide Web

Web search using term Black Jack

Review of: Molinoski, M (1978). Black Jack. Arithmetic Teacher 25, 5 p52.

I conducted my search to identify strategies to teach learners the game of Black Jack. The article by Marie Molinoski did not provide the information I needed. Instead, it explained a unique way to teach mathematics to junior high students.

Ms. Molinoski is a public school mathematics teacher. In her one-page article, she explained that many students are "turned off" to mathematics by the time they reach her grade. To battle this dispirited state, yet still reinforce basic concepts and procedures, she has designed a variety of motivational games for her class.

This article describes the game she calls "Black Jack". Unlike the Las Vegas game in which participants try to get as close to 21 points without going over, this game calls for participant to try for 5 points. The card deck used in this game is unique. It has the usual 52 cards, but half the cards have negative values, and no cards are worth more than 10 points. She makes her deck using index cards.

Similar to the Las Vegas game of Black Jack, students start with one card turned down and one face up. Students can request up to four additional cards, or may hold at any time. As previously stated, the purpose of the game is to get as close to 5 points as possible. The closest to the winning number receives 10 points. Any student who comes up with the wrong answer is automatically disqualified from winning that hand. The game continues until one player reaches 100 points.


In the early days of computer software, drill and practice programs received dismal reviews. Most often the reviews were deserved. Today, although many software programs have begun centering on students' higher level thinking skills, there is still the need for basic facts, skills, and concepts to be learned. Drill and practice, whether distributed by computer or hard copy, is still one of the most efficient methods to learn this basic material.

Ms. Molinoski has incorporated a unique idea in her attempt to help students learn how to add and subtract negative and positive numbers. By creating a game, she has found a way to invigorate what is normally a very dry subject. Motivation, whether for young students or older adults, is an extremely valuable technique used to maintain interest and enthusiasm during the learning process. As Ms. Molinoski shows, a creative mind can find ways to make most any subject interesting.

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Educational Technology - San Diego State University

Page Author: Dr. Donn Ritchie
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All contents copyright (C) 1996, SDSU. All rights reserved.
Revised: March 8,1996
URL: http://edweb.sdsu.edu/courses/edtec540/eric/EricExample.html