The ‘So What?’ Model Of Reflection

What is the ‘So What?’ model of reflection?

Rolfe et al.’s (2001) reflective model is probably one of the simplest reflective models because it centres around asking three simple questions: What? So what? Now what?

These might appear to be superficial but they go deeper at each level. The levels are descriptive, theoretical and action-orientated.

From a teaching point of view, these questions might include:


  •  … happened?
  • … did you observe?
  • …  were your initial expectations?
  • …  is the problem/difficulty/ reason for being stuck/reason for feeling bad/reason pupils don’t get on?
  • … was my role in the situation?
  • … was I trying to achieve?
  • … actions did I take?
  • … was the response of others?
  • … were the consequences for the student? Myself? Others?
  • … feelings did it evoke in the student? Myself? Others?
  • … was good/bad about the experience?

So what? 

  • … new skill did you learn?
  • … surprised you?
  • … did you like/dislike about the experience?
  • … does this tell me/teach me/imply/mean about me/my class/others/our relationship/the strategies I am using/my attitudes/my pupils’ attitudes?
  • … was going through my mind as I acted?
  • … did I base my actions on?
  • … other knowledge can I bring to the situation?
  • … could/should I have done to make it better?
  • … is my new understanding of the situation?
  • … broader issues arise from the situation?

Now what?

  • … do I need to do in order to make things better/stop being stuck/improve my teaching/resolve the situation/feel better/get on better/etc., etc.?
  • … broader issues need to be considered if this action is to be successful?
  • … might be the consequences of this action?
  • … seem to be the root causes of the issue addressed?
  • … other work is currently happening to address the issue?
  • … learning occurred for you in this experience?
  • … can you apply?
  • … would you like to learn more about, related to this project or issue?
  • … follow-up is needed to address any challenges or difficulties?
  • … information can you share with your peers or the community?

At this last stage of this model you need to consider the steps you will be taking in order to improve your practice and learn from the initial experience by completing ab action plan so that you know what  you will do and how you will decide that your practice has improved.


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

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