How Fink’s Taxonomy Can Improve Your Curriculum Part Five: Human Dimension

Danielle T. Miller MD

In the previous post So You Have Been Inspired to Make a Curriculum, But Is Your Curriculum Inspiring? I provided an introduction to Fink’s Taxonomy of Learning.  L. Dee Fink proposed that learning only occurs when there is change, or what he refers to as “significant learning.”  Significant learning occurs at the center of six domains of learning:

  1. Foundational Knowledge
  2. Application
  3. Integration
  4. Human Dimension
  5. Caring
  6. Learning to Learn

This post will discuss Human Dimension and how to incorporate this domain into a curriculum. Let’s begin with a case.

The Case:

So you have been inspired to make a curriculum on diabetes management for medical students in their pre-clinical years. You would like to incorporate all six domains of Fink’s Taxonomy of Learning into the curriculum for your medical students to achieve significant learning. Today you are focusing on incorporating Human Dimension into your curriculum. 

What is Human Dimension?

The Human Dimension is the learning domain in which learners develop a relationship with themselves and others. In this domain, learners reflect on their strengths and weaknesses, and take responsibility for their own lives and actions; this is called the personal dimension. Additionally, learners learn how to interact with others, which is called the social dimension. For example, in the case proposed above, having a learner in the preclinical years role play a discussion on diabetes education with a patient would be an example of the Human Dimension. The students could be provided tools on how to effectively provide diabetes education to patients, role play a scenario, then undergo a debriefing on their strengths and weaknesses in communication and professionalism during the interaction. In this example, students are developing the tools to evaluate themselves in the personal dimension and the tools to evaluate their interactions with others in the social dimension.

What questions can help formulate Human Dimension learning goals and objectives for a curriculum?

The general learning goal for students in this domain is:

  • By the end of this course, students should be able to take responsibility and know how to evaluate themselves.
  • By the end of this course, students should be able to understand and evaluate their interactions with others.

To aid in designing specific learning objectives for a curriculum, here are some questions that generate Human Dimension learning objectives: 

  • What should students learn about themselves?
    • How can students demonstrate empathy?
    • How can students learn to take responsibility?
    • How can students be aware of personal bias?
  • What should students learn about understanding and interacting with others?
    • How can students learn to advocate for patients?
    • What leadership and teamwork skills should students demonstrate?
    • How can students demonstrate culturally competent care?

What are the types of learning strategies that incorporate Human Dimension into a curriculum?

There are many different learning strategies that can be used for Human Dimension including:

  • Self-reflection 
  • Role playing
  • Simulation of professionalism, teamwork, difficult conversations
  • Working in cross-disciplinary teams
  • Working with diverse populations, including at home or away electives
  • Creating an authentic project on the social, political, environment, cultural components of medicine
  • Implicit bias training
  • Ethics journal club

This domain is where the concepts of leadership skills, team dynamics, ethics, cultural competency, and diversity can be introduced. This domain is where professionalism and communication skills can be assessed.

Conclusion

Human Dimension is one of six learning domains in Fink’s Taxonomy. These learning domains are interactive. By incorporating all six domains into a curriculum, learners can experience significant and lasting learning. The next post will discuss the learning domain Caring. 

Learn More

Biography L. Dee Fink

Full Text of Creating Significant Learning Experiences

Information about Learning Taxonomies:

Peak Performance Center

St Emlyn’s Emergency Medicine

Application of Fink’s Taxonomy to Medical Education

Jeremy Branzetti, Michael A. Gisondi, Laura R. Hopson & Linda Regan (2019) Aiming Beyond Competent: The Application of the Taxonomy of Significant Learning to Medical Education, Teaching and Learning in Medicine, 31:4, 466-478, DOI: 10.1080/10401334.2018.1561368