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Exploring the Roles of Pattern and Spatial Skills In Early Mathematics Development

The purpose of this research is to explore how two important but often overlooked skills—pattern and spatial skills—uniquely contribute to prekindergarten students' early mathematics development. Pattern skills include identifying, extending, and describing predictable sequences in objects or numbers. Spatial skills include spatial visualization (i.e., the ability to imagine and mentally transform spatial information) and visual-spatial working memory (i.e., the ability to hold the locations of different objects, landmarks, etc. in working memory). 

The aims of this study are to explore the concurrent and predictive relations between pattern skills, spatial skills, and math knowledge in prekindergarten; contrast the promise of improving math knowledge from pattern versus spatial training; and determine if there are crossover effects between the trainings (e.g., if pattern training improves spatial skills). The timing of this research is critical to informing efforts to revise and implement the Common Core State Standards, which do not include pattern or spatial skills as key content standards at any grade level.

General Project Information:

Summary on the IES webpage 

Project Rationale 

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Meet the research team


Project Publications

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See our Study in Vanderbilt's Research News


Parent and Teacher Resources

Patterning Practice Guide