Reflection Discussion

What? So What? Now What?

The reflection process begins with a defining and sharing of the “What” of the student’s experience, and follows a continuous cycle towards “So What?” and “Now What?”

  • What? Report the facts and events of an experience, objectively.
  • So What? Analyze the experience.
  • Now What? Consider the future impact of the experience on you and the community.
    • What seem to be the root causes of the issue addressed?
    • What other work is currently happening to address the issue?
    • What learning occurred for you in this experience?
    • How can you apply this learning?
    • 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?

The Four Cs of Reflection

Effective strategies for fostering reflection are based on four core elements of reflection known as the Four Cs.* These elements are described below:

  1. Continuous reflection: Reflection should be an ongoing component in the learner’s education, happening before, during, and after an experience.
  2. Connected reflection: Link the “service” in the community with the structured “learning” in the classroom. Without structured reflection, students may fail to bridge the gap between the concrete service experience and the abstract issues discussed in class.
  3. Challenging reflection: Instructors should be prepared to pose questions and ideas that are unfamiliar or even uncomfortable for consideration by the learner in a respectful atmosphere.
  4. Contextualized reflection: Ensures that the reflection activities or topics are appropriate and meaningful in relation to the experiences of the students.

Examples of Reflection Questions


  • What happened?
  • What did you observe?
  • What issue is being addressed or population is being served?

So What?

  • Did you learn a new skill or clarify an interest?
  • Did you hear, smell, or feel anything that surprised you?
  • How is your experience different from what you expected?
  • What impacts the way you view the situation/experience? (What lens are you viewing from?)
  • What did you like/dislike about the experience?
  • What did you learn about the people/community?
  • What are some of the pressing needs/issues in the community?
  • How does this project address those needs?
  • Now What?


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