An Early Mathematical Patterning Assessment

identifying young Australian Indigenous children’s patterning skills

Marina Papic*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    4 Citations (Scopus)


    This paper presents an Early Mathematical Patterning Assessment (EMPA) tool that provides early childhood educators with a valuable opportunity to identify young children’s mathematical thinking and patterning skills through a series of hands-on and drawing tasks. EMPA was administered through one-to-one assessment interviews to children aged 4 to 5 years in the year prior to formal school. Two hundred and seventeen assessments indicated that the young low socioeconomic and predominantly Australian Indigenous children in the study group had varied patterning and counting skills. Three percent of the study group was able to consistently copy and draw an ABABAB pattern made with coloured blocks. Fifty percent could count to six by ones and count out six items with 4 % of the total group able to identify six items presented in regular formations without counting. The integration of patterning into early mathematics learning is critical to the abstraction of mathematical ideas and relationships and to the development of mathematical reasoning in young children. By using the insights into the children’s thinking that the EMPA tool provides, early childhood educators can better inform mathematics teaching and learning and so help close the persistent gap in numeracy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous children.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)519-534
    Number of pages16
    JournalMathematics Education Research Journal
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2015


    • Early mathematics assessment
    • Early numeracy
    • Indigenous education
    • Patterning

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