Model of Reflection: What? So What? Now What?

Model of Reflection: What? So What? Now What?

Reflection is an essential part of the learning process, enabling individuals to think critically about their experiences, understand their reactions, and plan for future actions. Among various reflective models, the “What? So What? Now What?” model is one of the simplest and most effective tools. This model helps structure reflective thinking by breaking down the process into three clear stages: What, So What, and Now What.

1. What?

The first stage, “What?”, focuses on describing the experience or event. This is a factual recounting without judgment or analysis. Key questions to ask in this stage include:

  • What happened?
  • Who was involved?
  • Where did it take place?
  • What did I do?
  • What was the outcome?
  • What were the key moments?

The goal here is to create a clear and detailed account of the experience, setting the stage for deeper reflection.

2. So What?

The second stage, “So What?”, involves analyzing the significance of the experience. This is where reflection deepens, moving beyond mere description to interpretation. Questions to guide this analysis include:

  • Why did it happen?
  • How did it make me feel?
  • What were the impacts on myself and others?
  • What did I learn from this experience?
  • How does this experience relate to other experiences or theories?

This stage is about understanding the implications and meaning of the experience, exploring emotional responses, and connecting it to broader contexts and concepts.

3. Now What?

The final stage, “Now What?”, focuses on applying what has been learned and planning future actions. It turns reflection into a practical tool for personal and professional development. Key questions to consider here are:

  • What can I do differently in the future?
  • How can I apply this learning in other situations?
  • What strategies can I implement to improve?
  • What are the next steps I need to take?
  • How will I know if I have improved?

This stage encourages forward-thinking and action, ensuring that reflection leads to tangible changes and growth.

Application in Various Contexts

Outdoor Education

In outdoor education, reflection is critical for enhancing learning experiences and personal growth. After an outdoor activity, participants can use the “What? So What? Now What?” model to debrief:

  • What? Describe the activity, conditions, and tasks.
  • So What? Analyze the challenges faced, emotional responses, and team dynamics.
  • Now What? Plan for future trips, address any issues and set new goals.

Professional Development

For professionals, this model helps in assessing work projects, meetings, or training sessions:

  • What? Detail the project or session.
  • So What? Evaluate the outcomes, successes, and areas for improvement.
  • Now What? Develop strategies for better performance and set professional development goals.

Personal Growth

Individuals can use this model for personal reflection on daily experiences, relationships, or significant life events:

  • What? Outline the situation or event.
  • So What? Reflect on personal reactions, feelings, and learnings.
  • Now What? Plan steps for personal growth, relationship improvements, or lifestyle changes.

The “What? So What? Now What?” model of reflection is a straightforward yet powerful tool. It provides a structured approach to reflective thinking, making it accessible and effective for various contexts. By breaking down the reflection process into clear stages, it encourages thorough analysis and practical application of insights, ultimately fostering continuous learning and improvement.


Example: Applying the Framework to a Kayaking Activity in Trị An Lake

Scenario: A group of adventurers embarks on a kayaking expedition with The Mountain Tribe in the serene waters of Trị An Lake, surrounded by lush greenery and tranquil landscapes.

  1. What?
    • Description: The group gathers at the lakeside, where they receive safety instructions and basic paddling techniques from The Mountain Tribe‘s experienced guides. They embark on their kayaks, gliding smoothly across the calm waters, passing by floating houses and fishermen’s boats. Along the way, they encounter various bird species and observe the vibrant ecosystem of the lake.
  2. So What?
    • Analysis: As the journey progresses, participants reflect on the peacefulness of the lake and the beauty of nature surrounding them. They appreciate the opportunity to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of daily life and immerse themselves in the serenity of the outdoors. Paddling in sync with their companions fosters a sense of unity and cooperation within the group. They also reflect on the importance of environmental conservation, recognizing the fragility of ecosystems like Trị An Lake and their responsibility to protect them for future generations.
  3. Now What?
    • Action: Inspired by their experience, participants brainstorm ways to incorporate nature-based activities into their regular routines, whether it’s spending more time outdoors, volunteering for environmental initiatives, or supporting sustainable practices in their communities. They commit to applying the teamwork and communication skills developed during the kayaking expedition to their personal and professional lives, fostering stronger relationships and achieving common goals.

The Mountain Tribe’s Role in Facilitating Reflection

The Mountain Tribe plays a crucial role in facilitating reflection throughout the kayaking expedition in Trị An Lake.

  • Guided Reflection Sessions: Experienced guides lead post-activity debriefs, providing a supportive environment for participants to share their experiences, discuss insights, and learn from each other.
  • Encouragement of Mindfulness: The Mountain Tribe encourages participants to be mindful of their surroundings, fostering a deeper connection with nature and promoting introspection.
  • Community Engagement: Through its programs and services, The Mountain Tribe fosters a sense of community among participants, encouraging collaboration and collective action towards shared goals.

By incorporating reflective practices into their adventures, The Mountain Tribe ensures that each experience is not only exhilarating but also transformative, leaving a lasting impact on participants’ lives.

For more information on their programs and services, visit The Mountain Tribe.

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