Prepared by Elisabeth Lindsay.

Patterns are elements that repeat in a predictable manner, the logical sequence or recurrence of actions or events. Children are often taught mathematics by the use of patterns, odd and even numbers, for example. Patterns are found in virtually every aspect of life. Identifying and recognizing patterns is central to learning. Patterns may also be viewed as trends, revealing what was popular at a particular time.

Searching for and recognizing patterns can help researchers find direction. Migration patterns, for example, may show the typical path people took out of and into a particular location. Naming patterns or naming conventions are practices in giving children a particular name, often based on their birth order. One might find patterns of behavior, health patterns, economic patterns, or patterns of type, to name a few. Taking a broader perspective often helps to identify patterns; rather than focusing solely on a single individual or family, looking at the broader community may help to identify commonalties and patterns.

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