CARL is a widely used reflection model that can assist individuals in framing their reflective process based on their crucial experiences in professional life. Unlike other reflection models, this model is widely used by professionals during their feedback sessions and interview rounds. This framework can assist you in farming your answer as per the situational occurrences for providing a better understanding to the interviewer.

Four stages of CARL framework

Stage 1: Context

This section focuses on proving the background knowledge and information of the incident or experience briefly to give a broader picture of the context. This is one important section because this is where interviewers will connect the most. That is the reason, it is essential to focus on proving every minute detail possible to frame a good background story. However, you need to make sure that the provided information should not be too contextual that it ends up confusing the interviewer. Some assisting questions that can effectively assist you in framing context are mentioned below.

  • How did it all start?
    At this stage, you will highlight the factual information of the situation stating the place, time and the occurrence of the event.
  • How did you land up in the situation?
    In this, you will explain the main context of the situation and explain the main reason for your presence in the situation.
  • Which other people or elements were involved?
    While answering this question, you will highlight the presence of other people and elements in the situation.
  • What was the result of other people’s involvement?
    In this, you will highlight the main effect of roles played by other people in the situation.
  • What further actions did you take?
    For answering this question, you would have to highlight your actions after everyone’s involvement.

Stage 2: Actions

In the second step, you will give detailed information on the actions that you took. Besides, you will form a connection between all actions and the context of the situation you discussed.

  • Why did you do what you did?
    In this question, you will highlight the main reason for taking the action you took in response to the situation.
  • Why did you choose to take these actions?
    For this, you would have to answer the major reason behind choosing the reaction you gave.
  • What were the other possible actions that you could have taken?
    For answering this question, you would have to list out all the other possible responses in which you could have reacted in this situation.
  • How did other external factors influence your actions?
    At this stage, you will highlight the external factors that were the major reason behind the actions you took.

The four stages of CARL framework

Stage 3: Results

The third section of the model focuses on the results of the actions that were taken by you. Additionally, in this part, you will also elaborate on the consequences of your actions implemented. Through explanation, you will focus on the success you achieved and the satisfaction that followed along with the successful accomplishment of the goals. Even if the outcome was negative, you will briefly explain your feelings. Some assisting questions are

  • What was the main reaction of your actions?
    In this, you will highlight the reaction or results of the action you took based on the situation.
  • Were you able to achieve all your set goals?
    In this, you will analyze and state whether you were able to achieve the desired goal through the actions you took.
  • What other actions could you have taken that could have resulted in the same or better?
    In this, you will highlight the other alternative actions that you think would have been appropriate to get the desired results.
  • If you were not successful, what could have been the possible improvements in your actions?
    In this, first, you will state whether you will succeed in getting the results you wanted or not. If not, further you will explain the areas of improvement in your actions.

Stage 4: Learnings

This is the last section of the model; you will describe the learnings which gives you an opportunity to conclude and present insights that you have gained through all sections explained above. In this section, you can also include a future action plan but that is core voluntarily and it is up to you whether you want to give a detailed action plan for the future or not. Some exemplary questions are

  • What have you learned from this experience?
    In this, you will highlight your learnings from the whole situation.
  • What will you do if a similar situation arises again?
    In this, you will highlight the future actions you will take when a similar situation arises again.
  • Should you change anything in your action plan?
    In this, you will highlight the changes in your current actions that you will take to get better results in the future.

Moving forward, below is an example of a nursing interview providing an explanation of an incident that occurred to her at her previous job. So, let’s dive into an example for better comprehension of the model.

The CARL Framework of reflection example

Case assessment - This reflective example will highlight the experience of a nurse giving an interview for a new job. This reflection will focus on her explaining an experience of treating a patient with a leg wound.

Stage 1: Context

I worked at my previous job for almost 4 years. I was in charge of dressing, observing, and speaking to patients. Once a patient came into an emergency ward with some wounds on his leg. As per reports, the guy’s car met with an accident. He was getting quite impatient which made me stressed and nervous. Moreover, there was an important surgery already going on in the emergency room so my concentration was there as well. This is the reason I got a little anxious and in this anxious situation, instead of giving the injection of painkiller to the patient, I gave him the injection of anesthesia. An anesthetic injection is important to control anxiety and fear to reduce stress during the time of treatment (de Souza Melo, Sabey, Lima, de Almeida Souza & Groppo, 2015). As soon as I realized that I made a mistake, I instantly reported it to my senior to handle the situation more effectively. Although it was not such a big issue or had any negative consequences, my mistake still made me stressed out.


Stage 2: Actions

As I was extremely stressed from all the other things going around me and the patient was losing his patience due to lack of concentration and stress, I gave the wrong injection to the patient. After realizing my mistake, I instantly decided to inform my seniors instead of hiding it from them. The major reason I decided to inform my senior was because I knew he was going to find out anyway possible. So rather than he gets to know it from others, I decided to tell him myself. Other than informing my senior, I could have also talked out the situation with my colleagues and they could have also helped me out by talking to the family of the injured person. After the incident, I realized that external factors such as injured patients yelling due to injury and major surgery going to the emergency room had a major influence on my actions.


Stage 3: Results

The major result of my action was as soon as I informed my senior he intervened and handled the situation effectively. He talked to the injured person's family and explained everything and the situation minutely. Besides, I realized that I was not successful in the goal of providing good nursing service and I realized that I could have done way better if I had not gotten nervous. First of all, I could have been more conscious and focused on one thing at a time. This would have definitely helped me in getting the better outcome of the actions.


Stage 4: Learnings

From this whole incident I learned that in my field, it is really essential to not let external factors impact your consciousness and affect your actions in one way or another. If I face any situation in the future, I will try to calm myself down by taking deep breaths and taking every action with utmost care and concentration. Through this experience, I realized that I had to change the way I become conscious in extreme stressful situations. This would help me calm myself down and become a more efficient version of myself.


What are the limitations of Carl framework of reflection?

The limitations of the Carl framework of reflection may include generalization as in dynamic environments the context is continually changing, hence it can be challenging to generalize effectively from past experiences to new situations. Additionally, finding a balance between new actions and leveraging old actions can be difficult as it changing environment asks for different needs.

Can the CARL framework be utilized for interviews?

In the context of job interviews, Carl's model is an efficient tool as it will allow you to share your past experiences in an effective manner. It allows you to answer questions in an organized way and provides an opportunity for you to show your learnings, which would lead to exhibiting an idea for your future endeavors. So, yes CARL framework can be utilized in interviews.

Are there any other similar reflection frameworks to CARL?

While there are various reflection models available, the CARL framework is distinct in its focus on context, actions, results, and learning, making it effective for a structured and comprehensive reflective process.


de Souza Melo, M., Sabey, M., Lima, C., de Almeida Souza, L., & Groppo, F. (2015). The Effect of 2 Injection Speeds on Local Anesthetic Discomfort During Inferior Alveolar Nerve Blocks. Anesthesia Progress, 62(3), 106-109. doi: 10.2344/11-00037.1