Research within a constructivist approach often relies on interview data, which are used to reveal beliefs held by the interviewee or to expose conceptions or conceptual structures that are supposed to reside within the interviewee. From a sociocultural perspective, severe criticism has been leveled against the neglect of the problems of inferring conceptions held by a participant from what is uttered in an interview. Utterances should be looked upon as cultural tools used to realize discursive practices, rather than as propositions mirroring mental entities. It is argued that the clinical interview, often used by constructivists, disregards the impact of a situation and discursive norms with regard to what is uttered in a conversation. Here, it is argued that by taking into account an interviewee’s conceptions of the situation, as well as of the subject matter being talked about, some sort of a bridge between the methodological standpoints of constructivism and sociocultural theory can be formed. It is proposed that utterances should be regarded as actions, and thus the problem of ascribing meanings to behavior is in focus, that is, how a series of behaviors can be regarded as an intentional action. It is argued that by means of such an approach, it is possible to make inferences about conceptions and conceptual structures much in the same way as is done in research on conceptual change. However, this means that utterances cannot just be â€œread off.â€ The interviewee’s aims, conceptions of the subject matter talked about, as well as the interviewee’s conceptions of the situation to hand must be taken into account. A reinterpretation of data reported by Andrea diSessa and Bruce Sherin is used as an illustration.
2007. Vol. 42, 25-40 p.