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Driscoll Model of Reflection- Complete Guide

Driscoll-Model of Reflection

The Driscoll Model of Reflection is a framework or model for carrying out reflective or retrospective analysis. Developed by John Driscoll in 1994, it has been revised twice in 2004 and 2007, is one of the simplest reflective frameworks for reflective writing, and finds prominent application across the nursing domain. 

John Driscoll developed the model of reflection after evaluating the three major stem questions proposed by Terry Borton (1970). As a result, the model is often called the Borton/Driscoll Model of Reflection. Used by nursing and medical practitioners all over, it is the best choice among reflective models for beginners. 

The Driscoll Model of Reflection comprises seven stages, each crucial in comprehensive reflection on a subject matter.

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What are the 3 Stages of the Driscoll Reflective Model?

There are seven stages in the Driscoll Model of Reflection, which are separated into three steps. Each stage, as given below, is an action, followed by points of Gibbs reflection that task practitioners to look back at their learning experience.  

There are three versions of the Driscoll Model of Reflection. John Driscoll developed the first version of the model. It was an evolution of the reflective framework developed by Terry Borton, an American schoolteacher from the 1970s renowned for developing this overly simplistic model. 

The first version of the Driscoll Model of Reflection of 1994 defined three key stages. The subsequent versions were more elaborate, comprising seven stages, each with a subsequent point of reflection. 

Let's dig deeper into Driscoll’s What, So What & Now What Model. 

Stage-1 What?

The three stages of the original model of reflection are the three stem questions that act as their foundation. By exploring these three questions &developing their answers, one can define, analyze, reflect, and learn from their experiences.  

The ‘What’ questioning stage defines the context & circumstances of reflection. It is the first step and sets the stage for structured reflection. It involves: 

  • Brief explanations of the situation, subject, event, or incident.

  • Stating what happened clearly and what actions were performed.

  • What was the reflector’s initial reaction? What was the initial experience like? 

Stage-2 So what?

The second step of the analysis dwells deeper into the subject and involves reflecting upon all the nuances, characteristics, reactions, and experiences. The following are the questions that need to be answered at this stage. 

  • What does the evaluator think and feel about the subject/event/entity under study? 

  • What were the positive and negative aspects of the event?

  • What was the reaction, and why did they react so?

  • Was there any bias or conflict involved? 

  • How have past experiences influenced reactions and responses? 

  • Was any other party involved? How did they react? Were their reactions similar? Did their reactions influence the evaluator's reactions? 

The second stage is where the majority of the structured reflection takes place. Evaluators analyze their reactions, responses, and understanding to determine the reasons behind such reactions. 

Stage-3 Now what?

In the third stage, actions are taken based on one’s reflections and analyses of the subject or situation. This stage not only investigates the reactions & impact of the subject but looks into the resultant actions taken.

In nursing, the now what stage of the what so what no what model of reflection lists the most cogent and relevant corrective action to be taken after careful analysis and reflection. The questions asked at this stage include are generally as follows: 

  • What has one learned and deduced from one’s analysis and reflection?

  • Were there any negative outcomes? Could they have been prevented?

  • What can be done differently to improve the outcome?

  • What information is necessary to deal with this specific event better in the future? 

  • How can the performance and outcomes in the future be improved? How can one be better prepared?

driscoll model of reflection -

Read More: Gibbs Reflective Cycle Stages

Why Use The Driscoll Reflective Model in Nursing?

Evaluating indicators, identifiers, signs & symptoms in patients and taking prompt & correct remedial action are essential in nursing. Reflective practices are central as reflections and feedback allow nurses & midwives to enhance their skills, ideas, & knowledge from experiential learning. 

The Driscoll Model of Reflection, while not the most cited, is still heavily used in nursing and healthcare. It is simple and quite effective, and the three stages of the model are easy to remember & implement. The Driscoll Model of Reflective Writing or Reflection in Nursing is ideal for beginners looking to introspect and learn from experience. 

Here’s an elaboration of the Driscoll Model of Reflection Nursing ?

  • In The Process of Having An Experience In Clinical or Nursing Practice 

WHAT? ? Description of the Event, First Reactions, Corrective or Remedial Actions taken 

  • Purposeful Reflection Of Every Or Just Selected Aspect Of The Experience

SO WHAT? ? Analyzing the event, thinking of the actions taken in retrospect, evaluating outcomes & performance

  • Learning From Experience And Through The Process Of Reflection

NOW WHAT? ? Proposing actions for improving outcomes & performance, determining the things that could have been done differently, assimilating reactions, responses, actions and results to better prepare for future incidences

Read More: Kolb’s Learning Cycle and Reflective Learning Styles- Know Everything

What are the Pros and Cons of Driscoll's Model of Reflection?

The Driscoll Method of Reflection has its benefits as well as drawbacks. The most prominent advantages of using the Driscoll Model of Reflection in nursing are its simplicity and easy-to-implement nature. 

So, what are the benefits of the Driscoll Model of Reflection? Why do so many use John Driscoll's model of reflection?

Here are the biggest Driscoll Model of reflection advantages ? 

  • It is easy to understand and apply.

  • The model can be applied in any situation and under any context.

  • The revised John Driscoll Model of Reflection 2004 and 2007 are much more elaborate, restructuring the three stages into seven, thereby enabling deeper analysis and reflection. 

  • This is a good starting point for beginners unsure about which model to choose.

However, Driscoll's reflective nursing model also has certain disadvantages. 

  • The stages and steps involved must be followed clearly and systematically.

  • In practice, it may be difficult to determine the starting point or beginning. 

  • The model may not be the right fit for every situation.

  • Reflective practice is a continuous process and can be tough to apply when it comes to discrete processes. 

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An Example of the Driscoll Reflective Model

Following is an example of Driscoll's Model of Reflection, wherein the actions and experiences of a surgical ward nurse are dwelled into. This example aptly highlights the challenges, reactions, actions and insights learned. 

Stage 1 – WHAT?

I participated in an appendicitis operation in the surgical ward, assisting Doctor XXXX in an appendectomy. It was an emergency operation as the appendicitis was at an advanced stage. 

On further examination, Doctor XXXX deemed that laparoscopic surgery was out of the question due to the severity of the appendix infection. Informed consent for an open appendectomy was acquired, and a one-inch incision was made to remove the infected appendix.

However, the patient developed Hepatitis B. Operating Doctor XXXX and the rest of the team cited the most probable reason for contracting HB as through infected needles. This was a major possibility if proper precautions against blood-borne infections were not taken before the operation. 

I was appalled and thought retrospectively about my steps while preparing for the operation. Senior doctors urged me to study the procedures for preventing healthcare-associated infections and patient-safety guidelines. 

Stage 2 – SO WHAT?

While the open appendectomy was a success, the patient was infected with Hepatitis B due to a little mistake in the surgery. I realized it was my fault as I didn’t follow proper patient safety protocols while preparing for the surgery. My initial reaction was abject disappointment at my carelessness and complicating a simple operation, putting the patient’s life at risk. Even Doctor XXXX and my seniors & supervisors were disappointed with my failure.

Together with my seniors and operating Doctor XXXX, we took proper remedial action immediately to curtail the effect of the virus. It was a huge learning experience for me as I learned how a bit of carelessness regarding healthcare safety practices & principles could lead to life-threatening situations. 

Furthermore, I also learned that evidence-based care practices effectively prevent any mistakes in healthcare. 

Stage 3 – NOW WHAT?

This sudden complication of a simple surgical procedure was a major learning experience. After careful reflection and analysis, I am now more determined to prevent such unwanted scenarios from occurring and more prepared to handle them if they occur.

In order to improve my response, reaction, performance, and outcomes in the future, I will now minutely follow major nursing codes. Furthermore, I will study and learn different infection control practices and implement them every time during surgery to prevent complications. And for all further surgeries, I will follow all standardized procedures to ensure optimal healthcare management.

As evident from the above Driscoll Model of Reflection nursing example, the reflective cycle allowed the person concerned to look back and understand the scenario clearly. Simultaneously, it helped him identify key aspects, note appropriate actions taken, and allow him to learn from his mistakes & experience. 

How Writers Use Driscoll Model of Reflection in Assignments?

Reflective models have found major applications in various domains, particularly reflective writing.  

In the case of John Driscoll’s Model of Reflection 1994, 2004 and 2007, the basic framework for the model was derived from Terry Borton’s 1970 reflective writing model of WHAT, SO WHAT and NOW WHAT. That’s why the Driscoll Model of Reflection 2007 is sometimes called the Driscoll/Borton reflective model. 

We have already elaborated on how the Driscoll Model of Reflection is utilized in nursing and healthcare. Here's a look at how the John Driscoll Reflective Model is used by students & assignment writers to craft insightful, reflective pieces ? 

Action ? 

The event/incident/scenario to be reflected upon

Reflection: WHAT? ? 

Describing every key aspect of the experience, reactions, and actions/responses. 

Action ? 

Purposeful reflection and focusing on experience and actions

Reflection: SO, WHAT? ? 

 Analyzing the experience and actions, noting their nuances & significance, identifying notable similarities & differences

Action ? 

Discovering the things learned through careful analysis and reflection.

Reflection: NOW WHAT? ? 

Learning in retrospect, noting vital insights, and preparing to implement them in future instances


Implementing the new learning in the next instance or experience. 

And that's about it for this guide to the Driscoll Model of Reflection. Hope it helps you in using the What, So What, Now What model of reflection easily and with impunity. But, if you think you could do some professional nursing assignment help, connect with assignment help service today. 

Take care!

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FAQs On Driscoll Model of Reflection

Q. What are the 3 models of reflection?

Ans.: Three major models of reflection are John Driscoll's WHAT, SO WHAT, NOW WHAT model of reflection, Gibb's Reflective Cycle, and the Experience-Reflection-Action Model.

Q. When was the Driscoll model created?

Ans.: The Driscoll model was created in 1994 and then revised in 2004 & 2007. 

Q. Why use Driscoll's model of reflection in nursing?

Ans.: The main reasons are its simplicity and ease of usage in any healthcare scenario. 

Q. Who invented the Driscoll model of reflection?

Ans:  John Driscoll developed the WHAT, SO WHAT, and NOW WHAT model of reflection from Terry Borton's reflective writing framework.

Q. How do I reference Driscoll's Model of Reflection 1994?

Ans: Here’s how to reference the Driscoll Model of Reflection 1994 ? 

In-text: (Driscoll, 1994)

Bibliography/Reference List Entry: Driscoll, J., 1994. Reflective practice for practice. Senior Nurse, 14(1), pp.47-50.

Q. How do I reference Driscoll's Model of Reflection 2007?

Ans: Here’s how to reference the Driscoll Model of Reflection 2007:

In-text: (Driscoll, 2007)

Bibliography/Reference List: Driscoll, J., 2007. Practising clinical supervision. 1st ed. Edinburgh: Baillière Tindall Elsevier.


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