Generalization strategies in finding the nth term rule for simple quadratic sequences

Irene Biza, Dave Hewitt, Anne Watson, John Mason

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
31 Downloads (Pure)


In this study, we identify ways in which a sample of 18 graduates with mathematics-related first degrees found the nth term for quadratic sequences from the first values of a sequence of data, presented on a computer screen in various formats: tabular, scattered data pairs and sequential. Participants’ approaches to identifying the nth term were recorded with eye-tracking technology. Our aims are to identify their strategies and to explore whether and how format influences these strategies. Qualitative analysis of eye-tracking data offers several strategies: Sequence of Differences, Building a Relationship, Known Formula, Linear Recursive and Initial Conjecture. Sequence of Differences was the most common strategy, but Building a Relationship was more likely to lead to the right formula. Building from Square and Factor Search were the most successful methods of Building a Relationship. Findings about the influence of format on the range of strategies were inconclusive but analysis indicated sporadic evidence of possible influences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1105–1126
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Journal of Science and Mathematics Education
Issue number6
Early online date17 Aug 2019
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020


  • Eye-tracking
  • Generalization
  • Quadratic functions
  • Sequences

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