HAND, HEAD and HEART  are metaphors for literal, inferential and evaluative/speculative questions.


Our students are frequently called upon to answer questions about their reading – even if those questions are their own “wonderings” while they read.

Knowing how to identify the type of question asked helps readers know what strategies they need to use in order to find the answers. As Taffy Raphael pointed out in her research on QAR (Question-Answer Relationships), the relationship between the question and the answer may be even more important than the answer itself when it comes to strategic reading.

Here are three steps to follow in order to identify and answer different types of questions:

#1: Is it a HAND question?

Can you put your hand right on the answer in the text?  Then the answer is right there for you, directly stated in the text.

If not…

#2: Is it a HEAD question?

Are there clues in the text, even if the question isn’t answered directly?  Then you need to use those clues, along with your own background knowledge, to infer or make an educated guess about the answer.

If not…

#3: Is it a HEART question?

Are there no clues to the answer in the text?  Then you have to speculate on the answer based on your own background knowledge or give your own opinion.

Click here for a chart with definitions and examples of Hand, Head and Heart Questions.

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