What is a Critical Reflection Introducing the “What So What Now What” Model

What is a critical reflection? We reflect all the time Anytime we think back on something that happened and imagine how we might do it differently next time Critical reflection is similar, but involves a more formal process. It requires carefully considering how events and experiences have led to personal growth and how we might think or act differently in the future as a result. A critical reflection is NOT simply a summary of what happened or a report of how you felt during an experience. For a reflection to be critical, you must make connections between what happened, what you learned from that experience, and how you will apply that learning in the future. Your reflection doesn’t have to be about a positive or successful experience. We often learn the most when things don’t go right. The key is to choose an experience in which you learned something important that has changed your beliefs or actions in some way. If you have been asked to relate your experience to specific concepts, make sure you choose an experience that you can relate to those concepts One model for critical reflection is a three stage process known as What? So What? Now What? developed by Terri Borton Let's walk through the three stages together. Reading: Stage 1: What? What happened in a particular situation? Replay the event in your mind as though it were happening in front of you on a movie screen. What do you see? Be as objective as possible— try not to attach any judgements at this stage. Reading: Stage 2: So What? Analyze the experience more deeply. What was important about this situation for you? How does this experience connect to course concepts? What did you learn? Reading: Stage 3: Now what? This stage is about applying what you’ve learned. How have you changed or grown because of this experience? How will you think or act differently in future situations because of this experience? What are you going to do next? Remember: whatever you are reflecting about be sure you provide specific examples explain the significance of what happened and relate your experience to course concepts. Finally, be sure to explain what you've learned, and how you will you apply this learning in future situations. For more advice, examples, and templates for writing reflection papers, visit writeonline.ca