Perspectival understanding of conceptions and conceptual growth in interaction

James G. Greeno, Carla Van De Sande

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

125 Scopus citations


We propose a bridge between cognitive and sociocultural approaches that is anchored on the sociocultural side by distributed cognition and participation, and on the cognitive side by information structures. We interpret information structures as the contents of distributed knowing and interaction in activity systems. Conceptual understanding is considered as achievement of discourse in activity systems, and conceptual growth is change in discourse practice that supports more effective conceptual understanding. We also introduce a concept of perspectival understanding, in which accounts of cognition, including conceptual understanding, include points of view. This concept generalizes the concept of schema by hypothesizing that a perspectival understanding can be constructed by constraint satisfaction when a sufficient schema is not known or recognized. We provide an example in which perspectival understanding was jointly constructed, illustrating an interactional process we call "constructive listening."

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9-23
Number of pages15
JournalEducational Psychologist
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 1 2007
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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