The 3H Strategy

Quick Fact Box

The 3H strategy is a mnemonic strategy that students can use to help them answer comprehension strategy. 

Who is it for?  Middle School, Grade 5 to Year 8

Who is it by? Professor Lorraine Graham and Lyn Alder

Readiness Check

The Readiness Check is meant to help you determine whether the 3H Strategy is suitable for your students and to help get you 'Ready' to implement it.


For the teacher, the use of questioning guides the learning process in the classroom. The goal is to activate the student’s more extensive networks of established knowledge and to identify any deficits by encouraging the students to process the material.

 For the student, questioning assists in organising information and integrating new knowledge with their intrinsic thoughts.

 Some questions are more effective than others in the learning process.  Simple explicit questions may assist the student to learn facts but do not help in conceptual understanding. Higher order questions integrate knowledge and connects components.  This aligns with Bloom’s Taxonomy work on questioning.

 The question-answer relationship (QAR) covers three areas.

  1. Locating information in the text,
  2. Showing text structures and how information is organised
  3. Linking the reader’s background knowledge to new understandings.

There are three types of questions/answers in the 3H strategy. They are: answers located in one sentence (text explicit – HERE questions) across several sentences or paragraphs, or linking information in the text to background knowledge (Text implicit – HIDDEN questions) and question/answers that go beyond the texts such as “Why do you think….” (Script implicit – HEAD questions).

Watch the YouTube clip below with Prof. Lorraine Graham describing the 3H Strategy.

Main Points of the Video
  • Underlining key words in the question. Underlining the answer, and ‘thinking aloud’ to locate the information. Finally justifying the selected answers.
  • Don’t rush this stage, be patient! Your students need to practise to make perfect!
  •  To implement the strategy into the classroom it is best to employ: ‘modelling’, ‘I do, we do you do’, ‘think aloud’, ‘oral group discussions’ and ‘reciprocal teaching’.
What are the benefits of the 3H Strategy?
Benefits for Teachers

3H comprehension strategies:

  • encourage independent learning and self-monitoring of that learning which frees up the teacher to work with individuals or small groups who may require extra instruction
  • place the onus of engagement back onto the student
  • increase teachers’ appreciation of students who are able to self-monitor learning in relation to comprehension skills
Benefits for High Ability Students


  • are able to identify areas of strength and difficulty and work at their ability level
  • exercise control over their learning which is not limited by level of content knowledge of teachers or peers present in the classroom at the time
  • increase independence and proficiency in reading/listening comprehension which encourages the learner to increasingly develop, adapt and access learning opportunities, beyond those envisioned by the teachers, that extends knowledge and understanding
Benefits for Students with Disabilities


  • become more actively involved in their learning
  • are encouraged to self-monitor comprehension levels and are able to learn new strategies to improve comprehension skills
  • recognise the importance of contributing to their learning environment
Benefits for all Students
  • learn to work independently and develop flexibility skills
  • set goals, complete expected tasks, review completed work, and move to the next learning task
  • persist with challenging problems to find solutions and therefore they experience success and satisfaction for effort expended
The 3H Strategy: Description and Examples

This section describes and explains the 3H Strategy.

Answering written comprehension questions, after reading a passage, is an important school exercise that encourages students to focus on important themes/concepts in the text and enables teachers to assess student comprehension competence. Question-answer relationship (QAR) strategies have been shown to result in improved comprehension scores for poor and average readers (Raphael & McKinney, 1983; Raphael & Wonnacott, 1981).

Development of the 3H strategy was informed by research into various QAR strategies (Raphael, 1985), inferencing, and the comprehension processes of poor readers and students with learning disabilities (LDs) (Graham & Wong, 1993). The 3H approach differs from previous QAR strategies in relation to the classification scheme and definitions, and the instructional emphasis placed on activation of background knowledge and the use of text information to answer comprehension questions, especially inference questions. For example, Pearson and Johnson’s (1978) taxonomy of QARs, divided into three categories (text explicit, text implicit, and script implicit), was modified and utilised, to improve a learner’s interaction with the question, the text, and their own knowledge base to develop and enhance skills in comprehension. . Students use what they already know about the world, and about reading, to identify question-answer relationships. Here (right there) refers to question-answers that are relatively easy to locate and are generally found in one sentence; Hidden (think and search) are question-answer relationships found by joining together information in a text that is in more than one locations; and Head (world in your head) questions seek the child’s opinion or look for information that is not contained in the text. These keywords give the 3H strategy its name.

Providing a planful way of approaching this comprehension activity is important, especially for poor readers and students with LDs, as they tend not monitor their understanding of what has been read (Garner & Krauss, 1982) and they find it challenging answering inferential questions (Hansen, 1981). Thus, equipping students with a strategy to answer reading comprehension questions enhances performance (Graham & Wong, 1993).

EXAMPLES OF 3H questions

Australia and New Zealand combined military forces at the commencement of World War I. The combined military force was called ANZAC, an acronym for Australia and New Zealand Army Corps. The ANZACs landed on the Turkey’s Gallipoli Peninsula at dawn on Sunday the 25th of April, 1915. After landing on the beaches the ANZACs advanced up the steep hills and dense scrub. The goal was to attack their enemy. Due to the courage and sacrifice demonstrated on that bloody battlefield Australians chose to recognised the day as a public remembrance to honour all who served their country in war.


  • Here Questions.   Which war was to end all wars?
  • What does the acronym ‘ANZAC’ stand for?

 World War I was the war to end all wars. Australia and New Zealand combined military forces at the commencement of World War I. The combined military force was called ANZAC, an acronym for Australia and New Zealand Army Corps. The ANZACs landed on the Turkey’s Gallipoli Peninsula at dawn on Sunday the 25th of April, 1915. After landing on the beaches the ANZACs advanced up the steep hills and dense scrub. The goal was to attack their enemy.  Due to the courage and sacrifice demonstrated on that bloody battlefield Australians chose to recognised the day as a public remembrance to honour all who served their country in war. 



  • List two reasons why Australia and New Zealand chose to recognise April 25th each year?
  • Describe what happened after the combined army forces landed at Gallipoli?

 World War I was the war to end all wars. Australia and New Zealand combined military forces at the commencement of World War I. The combined military force was called ANZAC, an acronym for Australia and New Zealand Army Corps. The ANZACs landed on the Turkey’s Gallipoli Peninsula at dawn on Sunday the 25th of April, 1915. After landing on the beaches the ANZACs advanced up the steep hills and dense scrub. The goal was to attack their enemy.  Due to the courage and sacrifice demonstrated on that bloody battlefield Australians chose to recognised the day as a public remembrance to honour all who served their country in war.


In My Head

  •  How do Australians recognise April 25th?
  • What do you do at your school to commemorate ANZAC day?

The 3H Strategy Table

Suggested Use:  This can be downloaded and placed on the student’s desk to assist them to remember the terms and to provide a scaffold for learning.

Garner & Krauss, (1982)

Graham, L. & Wong, B. Y. L. (1993). Comparing two modes of teaching a question-answering strategy for enhancing reading comprehension: didactic and self-instructional training.  Journal of Learning Disabilities, 26(4), 270-279.

Hansen, (1981).

Pearson,  & Johnson,  (1978).

Raphael, & McKinney, (1983).

Raphael,  & Wonnacott, (1981).


Review and Reflect

This section introduced and described the 3H strategy. It detailed the benefits to teachers and students and emphasised the importance of identifying indicators of student level of self-regulated learning and of teaching and modelling self-regulated learning capabilities.

Practice activity

Discuss what you have learned in this section with a colleague. In your discussion, reflect on ways in which student levels of self-regulated learning impact teaching and learning. How will developing student levels of self-regulated learning benefit students and teachers at your school?


Diagnostic Tools

This section contains surveys that you can email to your students to help assess their initial level of understanding of the 3H Strategy

The Survey

Please email or handout the following survey to your students:

The Survey

The Report

The Intervention: Teaching the 3H Strategy

This section develops teacher knowledge and understanding of how to use the 3H strategy in the classroom

Teaching the 3H Strategy

Research indicates that brief (half-day) teacher QAR in-service sessions are effective in improving comprehension scores of poor and average readers, whether or not teachers used provided materials (Raphael & Wonnacott, 1981).

 Utilising the 3H approach in teaching provides students with explicit instruction about how to use text information appropriately in order to answer written comprehension questions Graham, 1995- conference paper).

 Students are prompted to use text- and/or knowledge-based information to answer questions about a passage they have read (Westwood, 2008).

3H is a learning strategy. After students have been taught how to use them, learning strategies are to be used by students independently. Use explicit instruction (explanation, modelling, guided practice, independent practice) to teach this strategy.

 (PDF) The 3H strategy: Improving poor readers’ comprehension of content materials. Available from: Professor Lorraine Graham’s ResearchGate account’_comprehension_of_content_materials


Three steps involved in teaching the 3H strategy (Brown-Chidsey, Bronaugh, & McGraw, 2009):




Poster links:

Below is a link to a summary poster version of the 3H approach that can be down loaded and printed to put up on a classroom wall for students to refer to.

LINK: LG 3H Comprehension Strategy Poster or LG_3H Strategy Poster Option 1 and/or LG_3H Strategy Poster Option 2 that can be printed out as a resource for the classroom

Review and Reflect

This sub-module described teaching with the 3H strategy. It detailed …..


Practice activity

Read the passage below and………………….


1. Model the strategy

You can find sample passages and comprehension questions here.  These passages and questions vary in complexity so that you can select items which are most appropriate for your class.

After the 3H strategy has been explained to student(s), model the approach using the “think aloud” strategy to voice thought processes behind each of the steps. You can instruct students to write Here, Hidden, In my Head alongside the comprehension questions you use for the passage chosen.

Modeling dialogue/prompt cards from Graham and Wong (1993) could be included here:

i.                    How will I answer this question?

ii.                   Where is the answer to this question found?

iii.                 Is my answer correct?

2. Guided practice

Provide students with the opportunity to implement the strategy in small groups or pairs using different passages of text and comprehension questions. Students may use prompt cards with descriptions of the three Hs if they need additional support and they could also use the “think aloud” strategy to strengthen learning and comprehension if working in pairs. Monitor progress, scaffold learning, and provide additional support to those students who may need assistance (e.g., individual modeling of the strategy with that student).

3. Independent practice

Following the guided practice exercises, and once students have shown that they have grasped the 3H strategy, they are able to implement it independently. It is also valuable to provide time for students to reflect on the strategy etc……..Evaluation sheet/prompts for this?

Suggestions for implementing the 3 H strategy into your classroom.
Just starting:

Introduction lesson Ideas
Step 1: BRAINSTORM: Class discussion. Teacher asks the students to think of a time when they have been asked to answer questions and what methods they employed.
Create a list on the board.
Step 2: MODEL Present a short paragraph on the whiteboard. “Here is another tool we can use for answering questions.” Students have their copy on the desk. ‘Model’ the process through ‘Thinking Aloud’ the title to the passage, activating your and the students’ background knowledge.
Step 3: Read the passage to the students. Suggest to the students they have a pencil in their hands to follow the reading and to either highlight a word they have not seen before or a question mark for any word they do not understand.
Step 4: Generate a group Discussion linking the passage to past experiences, retelling the story and going over any student highlighted words.
Step 5: THINK ALOUD Teacher reads a question then using the ‘think aloud’ strategy teacher highlights the keywords in the question followed by highlighting the answer in the text and identifying which 3H is attached to the question. For ‘In my head’ questions use the keywords highlighted in the question to state the answer from their head.
This process is repeated a number of times until it is felt that the students have gained a good understanding.
(re watch Professor Lorraine Graham’s youtube clip)
Students teach – think aloud to the class. Select a pair of students to run a comprehension lesson – reading the passage on the board, highlighting the key words in the questions, highlighting the answers in the text.

Continuing Lessons – Deliberate Practice

PRIMING for the lesson and reinforcement of the strategy with the class.
Step 1: Ask the students to write down everything you can remember about the 3H strategy. Discuss as a group. Reteach for any gaps in their memory.
Step 2: Repeat the introduction sessions on a new passage – ‘Think aloud’ as you go through a comprehension passage with the class.
Step 3: After modelling the activity several times, the teacher moves to create a group response to the questions read. Allow the group to discuss the key points and decide on which parts of the text to underline for the answer. After each answered question, the teacher asks members of the group; “Do you think this is the right answer?” Also, “How do you know that it is the right answer?” This is important for students to learn to justify their answers. It provides feedback to the teacher in identifying any deficits in their understanding which in turn provides targeted skill training for the student. Deficits could be unfamiliar vocabulary which has led to a misunderstanding of information or conceptual misunderstanding. For the student, it assists in mental processing of information. Feedback between teacher and student is immediate and targeted.

Reinforcement of student’s use of the strategy – reciprocal teaching
Step 1: Create small groups within the classroom.
Step 2: Hand each student a passage. Nominate a group leader who leads the group by introducing the passage title.
Step 3: Each student writes down any questions they may have about the title or passage.
The leader reads the passage to the group.
Step 4: The leader nominates a student in their group to retell the passage.
Step 5: Each student in the group reads their question aloud. A student leads the group in discussing key points in the question to underline. The group discusses the answer and underlines the answer in the text.
This assists the group in gaining an in-depth understanding of the passage. This may be in locating towns on a map or defining words.

Another thought! USE colour coding – student highlight the answers in the associated colour for HERE, HIDDEN, HEAD.

What about! On the table, there is a 3H Sorting Mat.

Questions once answered are place in the appropriate column for HERE, HIDDEN and HEAD.
Nominate a ‘student’ in your group who always asks; “Why do you think you have the right answer?”

Teacher Generated Questions: Use the set questions in the same way – one student reads the question, the group discusses key points, highlighting answers in the text. The ‘justifier’ asks the group to justify their answers and then places the question/answer in the associated column of 3H sort map.

Student Generated Questions: Provide NAPLAN stories to your students and ask them to create HERE, HIDDEN and HEAD questions then they can present to a peer to complete. Once completed the student has to provide and justify their answers to the author of the questions. Make sure they state which ‘H’ it is.

Error Generated Questions: Present NAPLAN stories with associated questions answered correctly and incorrectly. Students are asked to mark the test and as part of class discussion then justify why it is correct or incorrect.

Reflecting on their learning after several sessions
After several group practices, the teacher asks the class for any common cues for HERE, HIDDEN or HEAD questions. This may be the use of many of the same words in the questions and answer, ‘Who’, ‘Where’, ‘When’ could also be included in HERE questions. Words such as ‘List the factors’, ‘describe’, ‘compare’ or a double barrel question such as “What is and when… “are found in HIDDEN questions. For HEAD questions are likely to contain “Why do you think…?”.

The teacher needs to emphasise the underlining of keywords and answers in the passage.
After some sessions on this strategy. The teacher should ask the group what tools have assisted them to answer the questions. One is hoping for underlining, accessing background knowledge, checking the answers.
Start the unit with small one paragraph passage and slowly move to more paragraphs in the passages as the unit progresses.

At the end of each session, present a paragraph to each student with three questions. The student is required to answer the questions on their own following the same routine. Highlight keywords, highlight answers in the passages, classify the questions as HERE, HIDDEN or HEAD. Collect data from the individual segment of the lesson. This forms your formative assessment and will direct what you need to emphasise in the next lesson.

Things to think about and other ideas
Keep lessons, moving and short – 30 – 45 mins. Spread the lessons over a week. Best to learn little bits over a period of time.

Do not teach each ‘H’ strategy separately – teach the 3 H strategy together.

Continue to collect data from your one passage tests at the conclusion of the learning sessions to assist in direction of your teaching.

Have the students create 3 H questions for a comprehension passage.

Have students mark a created comprehension test passage with correct and incorrect questions – class discussion on why each question is correct or incorrect.

When do you know that your students have the skill?
Follow the data after each three-question comprehension passage at the end of each session. The data will tell when mastery has been achieved. Once this achieved continue to run maintenance sessions as needed.

Good Luck and we would love your feedback on this unit so that we can better support You!

Website that sells posters, worksheets etc for Here, Hidden, in my Head


Brown-Chidsey, R., Bronaugh, L., & McGraw, K. (2009). RTI in the classroom: Guidelines and recipes for success. New York: Guilford Press


Prompt cards?

 Raphael & Wonnacott, 1981)

Westwood, P. S. (2008). What teachers need to know about reading and writing difficulties. Victoria, Australia: Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER).


The Survey

Please email the following survey to your student:

The Survey

The Report


The Survey

Please email the following survey to your student:

The Survey

The Report

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