43 command tasks and leadership activities to strengthen your cadet lesson plans
Command tasks are group exercises used by cadets and...
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This is a reflective model designed to help people evaluate a recent experience or experiential learning activity. When used with groups and teams it’s a great way to highlight ways through which they can improve, refine, and otherwise strengthen their team-working skills.
Note: to make this blog post a little easier to read we’ll refer to ‘What? So What? Now What?’ as WSWNW from now on 👍
As the name suggests, there are three stages to this reflection model:
Most commonly attributed to Rolfe et al. in 2001, but you may also see Terri Burton, Dorothy Strachan, or Henri Lipmanowicz and Keith McCandles credited with its development.
As a reflection model, WSWNW is best employed immediately after a task is finished. Used this way it gives participants the chance to reflect on a recent experience while the memory is fresh and, ideally, to put new ideas to immediate effect by repeating the activity.
As WSWNW is split into three distinct phases, we’ve included instructions for each:
|Per Person||For the Facilitator|
|Some paper, preferably Post-its||Flipchart, whiteboard or similar|
|A pen||A pen|
|Facilitation questions (see below)|
One important element of good reflection questions is choosing those which align well with the task at hand, and which prompt lines of thought that will lead to meaningful change. Each MTa activity comes with tailored reflection questions designed to achieve exactly that.
In general, you can tell good review questions from bad ones with a quick sense check. Bad review questions are closed, loaded, provoke a defensive response, shut down thinking, and get people to critique the activity rather than the process.
What was the objective or goal?
What were your initial expectations?
What were your observations?
What was your role and what were your responsibilities?
What did you do?
How did others respond?
Were there consequences? If so, what were they?
What were you thinking about?
What were your actions based on?
What knowledge or expertise did you bring to the situation?
What could you have done differently? Better?
What is your understanding of the activity now?
What did you learn?
Did anything surprise you or deviate from your expectations?
What lens are you looking at the activity from?
Did you enjoy it? What did or didn’t you like particularly?
What did you learn about the other participants?
What do you need to do in order to improve things next time?
What might the root causes of any identified issues be?
What learning occurred for you in this experience?
How can you apply this learning in future iterations of this activity?
How can you apply this learning in other contexts?
Is any follow-up needed to address any challenges or difficulties?
If you could do the project again, what would you do differently?
We’ve put together the resources below to help you to use the WSWNW model as effectively as possible.
Free Review Questions document
a list of example review questions to aid reflection
As outlined in our exploration of experiential learning, one of the key stages is reflective observation. Here, reflecting from multiple perspectives on an activity and its outcomes is a way to crystalise their understanding and the bedrock upon which subsequent steps are built.
By reflecting, observations and reflections can be integrated into new theories. Structured review techniques – like WSWNW – are a way to ensure the observations and reflections are arrived at, examined critically, and integrated effectively.
After review, repeating an activity (the active experimentation stage) is an opportunity to put these newfound ideas to the test. It’s from this repeat experience that lessons are learned, and meaningful behavioural change is achieved.
By incorporating WSWNW into your activities, you give your participants a chance to reflect and engage in the experiential learning process. Rather than perform an activity in isolation and hope that lasting change is achieved (hint: it rarely, if ever, is), you provide a structured and specialised framework for this change to come to fruition.
There are plenty of different reflection models and styles available, and each of our kits and the activities they contain come with tailored review sheets. These sheets are designed to facilitate the conversation and reflection required to allow lasting behavioural change.
Here are two examples of activities and the review prompts they contain.
In this multiphase leadership activity, available in MTa Insights, participants must work together in a team, lead others and then experience being led.
This activity is designed to provide significant discussion and learning in:
This activity, part of the MTa Team Kit, introduces fundamental concepts and skills of teamwork. While the central task – building a bridge – sounds simple, the activity is structured in such a way that participants are prompted to link their learning with their life as a while, and to plan how to implement what has been learned.
This activity is designed to
Many facilitators have questions about how this reflection model works and how best to put it to use. We’ve rounded up some of these questions below – feel free to get in touch if you have more via the live chat icon in the bottom right!
The model was first used by Rolfe et al (2001), and you can see the full reference at the bottom of this article. The model is sometimes attributed to other authors, as mentioned previously, but Rolfe et al should be considered the originators.
This reflection model is useful when facilitating reflection of an activity, as outlined above, but it can also be put to good use when reflecting on an experience in the past. The model can be used anytime you need to achieve reflection within a structured framework.
There are many other models of reflection available, including (but not limited to):
Driscoll, J. (2007). Practicing Clinical Supervision: A Reflective Approach for Healthcare Professionals. Edinburgh: Elsevier.
Gibbs, G. (1998). Learning by Doing: A Guide to Teaching and Learning Methods. Oxford: Further Education Unit, Oxford Polytechnic.
Jasper, M. (2013). Beginning Reflective Practice. Andover: Cengage Learning.
Johns C (1995) Framing learning through reflection within Carper’s fundamental ways of knowing in nursing. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 22(2), 226-234.
Rolfe, G., Freshwater, D., Jasper, M. (2001). Critical reflection in nursing and the helping professions: a user’s guide. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.