Orientation of Letter and Number Patterns
K.Marinka Gadzichowski, Sarah E. O'Brien, Robert Pasnak

Teaching children to understand simple patterns is ubiquitous in the elementary schools of English-speaking countries, but without any continuity or universal system. In the present study, the orientations of 24 patterns of letters or numbers were varied systematically, with the middle item missing in each sequence. Thirtynine first grade students were asked to select the missing letter number or object from one of four alternatives. There was no overall difference between in the children’s accuracy with letter or number patterns, but there was a small, statistically significant overall difference due to pattern orientations. The interaction between type of pattern and orientation. Letter patterns presented vertically were twice as difficult as letter patterns presented horizontally; number patterns were three times as difficult when presented horizontally as when presented vertically. Making patterns more difficult by increasing the number of skips within a pattern (e.g. J,M,?,S,V versus K,M,?,O,Q) had larger effects when patterns were presented in favorable orientations (i.e. horizontal for letters, vertical for numbers). These data suggest that teachers should begin patterning lessons with patterns in the orientations that most favor children’s success. and developmental psychologists should continue systematic investigations of the parameters of young children’s pattern comprehension.

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