What? So what? Now what? model

A well-known reflection model developed by Rolfe et al (2001) is based upon three simple questions: What? So what? Now what?



Step 1: What?

Task: Describe in detail the experience

Potential prompts:

What happened? What did you observe?
What was your role?
What issue is being addressed or population is being served?
What were your initial expectations?

What was good/bad about the experience?

What did you learn from the experience?

What part of your experience was most challenging?

What part did you find surprising?

What did you already know about the topic you explored at the site/event/project?

Who did you work with?


Step 2: So What?

Task: Describe why this experience was significant

Potential prompts:

What critical questions does this information cause you to ask?

What about the event stuck out to you/made an impact on you?

What emotions does it evoke? How does it make you feel?

What broader issues arise from the situation at hand?

What conclusions can you draw from the experience?

What did you learn about others and yourself?

How were you different when you finished this experience?

How were you different/similar to other people involved?  How did being different help/hinder?

What values, opinions, decisions have been made or changed through this experience?

What new skill did you learn?

How did this experience clarify, expand, or create an interest?

What about this experience surprised you?

What impacts the way you view the situation/experience?
What did you learn about the project/topic/people/community?
What are some of the pressing needs/issues related to this project/topic/people/community?
How does this project address those needs?
How did the experience relate to your coursework?
How has your understanding of the project/topic/people/community changed as a result of your participation in this project?

Step 3: Now What?

Task: Describe next steps

Potential prompts:

How will you apply what you learned from your experience?
What would you like to learn more about, related to this project or issue?
What follow-up is needed to address any challenges or difficulties?
What information can you share with your peers or the community?
If you could do the project again, what would you do differently?
Have your career options been expanded by your service experience?
How can you continue your involvement with this group or social issue?

How will your efforts on this project contribute to social change?

How will your efforts on this project contribute to your career?

How can society better address the problem from the project?

Where do you go from here? What is the next step in the process?


Rolfe, G., Freshwater, D., Jasper, M. (2001) Critical reflection in nursing and the helping professions: a user’s guide. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.