Educational Studies in Mathematics

, Volume 67, Issue 2, pp 171–185

Generalising the pattern rule for visual growth patterns: Actions that support 8 year olds’ thinking


DOI: 10.1007/s10649-007-9092-2

Cite this article as:
Warren, E. & Cooper, T. Educ Stud Math (2008) 67: 171. doi:10.1007/s10649-007-9092-2


A common approach used for introducing algebra to young adolescents is an exploration of visual growth patterns and expressing these patterns as functions and algebraic expressions. Past research has indicated that many adolescents experience difficulties with this approach. This paper explores teaching actions and thinking that begins to bridge many of these difficulties at an early age. A teaching experiment was conducted with two classes of students with an average age of eight years and six months. From the results it appears that young students are capable not only of thinking about the relationship between two data sets, but also of expressing this relationship in a very abstract form.


Algebraic thinking Elementary students Visual growth patterns Semiotics Student thinking Teaching actions 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.McAuley CampusAustralian Catholic UniversityBanyoAustralia
  2. 2.Queensland University of TechnologyKelvin GroveAustralia

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