An in-depth guide on Rolfe reflective model

An in-depth guide on Rolfe reflective model
The Rolfe reflective model is a reflection framework developed by John Rolfe, Andrew Freshwater, and Susan Jasper in 2001. The Rolfe reflective cycle has the advantage of being simple and uncomplicated. It comprises three questions; What? So What? and Now What? This blog will help you understand what it is, its advantages, and the steps.
This model can be applied to reflective practice and self-reflection in the disciplines of medicine and other professions.
What is the Rolfe reflective model?
Rolfe’s reflective model was primarily created for nursing and care teaching, but it has since expanded in its range of uses, partly due to how simple and understandable it is. Three stages of the model encourage you to consider what occurred, the consequences of the event, and the consequences of your future behavior in order. The model’s cyclical nature suggests continuity.
The behavior or approach modifications that result from the reflective thought can then be examined, and either a subsequent revision is made, or it is determined that the changes were appropriate.
What are the steps of the Rolfe Model of Reflection?
There are key questions that serve as good representations of the various stages of a particular situation. The three primary inquiries include; What? So What? and Now What? They also provide a few follow-up questions that help elaborate on the situation.
Here are the three steps of the Rolfe model of reflection


The purpose of this cycle element is to describe one’s self-awareness in connection to the event or experience being reflected upon. The first word in each question in this section begins with ‘What?’

What is the major problem or reason you’re having trouble?
What were the repercussions for other people?
What aspects of the experience could be improved?
What about the whole experience struck you as negative?
What were the procedures followed?
What was it that I wanted to accomplish?
What was my main contribution to the circumstances at play?
What best describes the circumstance that is being presented to you?
What aspect of the overall experience was optimistic?
What emotions were triggered?
What emotions were aroused within me?
What emotions did the other person experience?
What notable comments did the others make?
What are the repercussions for me?

Now what?

This element of Rolfe’s cycle is involved with generating information and insights. We proceed from the prior parts to consider in greater detail changes in the future shortly and be equipped for what could be done if such circumstances present themselves again. All the question in this section starts with ‘now what?’

Now, what actions should I take to avoid them in the future?
Now, what additional dialogues need to be factored in carefully?
Now, what help would have been needed to remedy the situation?
Now what areas must be addressed for unexpected actions?
Now, what should be done to make things better?
Now, what have other people taken away from this?
Now, what have I realized as a result of this experience?

So what?

This part of the Rolfe reflective model cycle examines the circumstance being thought about and starts to assess the situations being addressed. This section’s questions all begin with ‘so what?’

So, what unique issues are being raised in this situation?
So, what extraordinary things could be done in that particular situation?
So, what key strategies have I used to address the problem?
So, what formed the foundation of my approach to that circumstance?
So, what do you mean by communicating about the other people I interact with?
So, what illustrates the incident’s most important lesson?
So, what went through my mind when I responded to the circumstance?

Remember, these are suggestion questions only. These are merely hypothetical queries. Some may not be applicable in all situations, and reflection processes may include creating new ones. Using the questions above as a cheat sheet is one strategy that might be helpful; while it may be simple to recall the three basic questions, it may be more challenging to identify the follow-up questions.
Referencing a Rolfe et al. reflective model
So, how do you reference Rolfe et al. reflective model? You would need to incorporate the following details in your reference list or bibliography to cite Rolfe et al. reflective model:

The last names of the author followed by their initials. In this case, it would be “Rolfe, G., Freshwater, D., and Jasper, M.”
The year of publication is in parentheses. For example, “(2001)”
The title of the book or article in which the model is presented. It should be underlined or italicized. For example, “Critical reflection in healthcare professional education: A theoretical framework.”
The journal’s name in which the article was published or the book’s publisher took it. For example, “Medical Education.”
The issue number and volume of the journal in which the article was published. For example, “35(3)”
The numbers of the pages of the article. For example, “234-240.”

The evaluation of Rolfe’s cycle
Evaluation of Rolfe’s cycle, sometimes referred to as the “Critical reflection in nursing” or the “Rolfe’s reflective cycle,” usually entails determining how well the model encourages in-depth, significant contemplation among healthcare professionals. The following aspects could be the evaluation’s primary focus:


The model should be able to be applied in a range of healthcare settings and be sufficiently flexible to adapt to various contexts and scenarios.

Effectiveness in encouraging reflection

Rather than only promoting surface-level thinking, the model should be able to encourage deep and meaningful reflection.

Simplicity and clarity

The model should be simple to use and comprehend and offer clear instructions on the reflective process.

Influence on practice

The methodology should improve both practice and patient outcomes.

Significance to practice

The model has to be appropriate and applicable to the daily work of a healthcare professional.


The model should be simple to use and include in the routine of the healthcare provider.

Ability to stimulate critical thinking

The model should encourage them to do so rather than just accepting decisions and actions made by healthcare professionals.
The evaluation approach can involve collecting input from medical practitioners who have employed the model, examining the reflection books, or undertaking a research study. When implementing Rolfe’s reflective cycle in practice can have an impact on patient outcomes.
In general, Rolfe’s reflective cycle is seen as a potent instrument for fostering in-depth, meaningful contemplation among healthcare workers, and assessments have typically indicated that it is effective at achieving this goal.
Advantages and disadvantages of the Rolfe model
Everything has two sides, just like a coin which has two sides. So, there is no longer a difference when discussing Rolfe’s reflective practice paradigm. It incorporates several advantages with some disadvantages. These advantages and disadvantages differentiate the role’s reflective model from other reflective practices or modes like the ERA cycle or the Driscoll Reflective model.
Here are the advantages of the Rolfe model;

It assists nurses in identifying areas that need work and in creating plans of attack to solve them, which can enhance patient outcomes
It helps nurses to think about the moral and ethical ramifications of their choices, which may enable them to make better judgments in the future
It offers a structured method of reflection that can assist nurses in objectively identifying and analyzing their experiences
It can help healthcare team members communicate and work together
It can be applied in various clinical contexts
Instead of making the same errors over, it enables nurses to learn from their mistakes
It is a tool for continuing professional development and advancement
It motivates nurses to accept accountability for their choices and actions
It is a widely known and acknowledged reflection model in the medical field
It is simple to comprehend and use

Disadvantages of the Rolfe model
After understanding the approach’s benefits, it is time to learn about its drawbacks. First, because it is so specific about several elements, this model is one of the more confining. The disadvantages are;

Rolfe’s reflective cycle calls for you to start at the beginning, which may not be essential if you already have prior knowledge of the topic
Reflection is a continuous process. The fact that it never ends means that if you did, the benefits of continuing would likewise end
Rolfe’s reflecting model cannot be applied in all circumstances since not all cases allow for analysis before action
Making a decision requires a lot of thought. This makes it a time-consuming process

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Final thoughts
Healthcare practitioners can assess their practice and develop their abilities using the Rolfe reflective model. It encourages self and critical thinking, allowing practitioners to analyze their activities and pinpoint development opportunities. The approach is user-friendly and flexible for a variety of treatment situations. Are you ready to explore more on this and other models more? Visit


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