How Fink’s Taxonomy Can Improve Your Curriculum Part Six: Caring

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 Caring 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 Caring into your curriculum. 

What is Caring?

Caring is a learning domain in which learners develop new (1) feelings, (2) interests, or (3) values about a subject. In essence, learners become excited to learn new skills or new concepts because they develop a relationship with the material or understand why the material is important in a larger context. In a curriculum on diabetes management, having students download an application to track their diet and calculate insulin dosages for a week, would be an example of a learning activity that incorporates caring, as the goal of the exercise is to develop a relationship with the learning material and empathetic feelings about everyday diabetes management from an individual patient perspective. In addition to developing value for the subject topic, this is the domain in which learners develop a value for learning and success. Students set standards of learning and develop the sense of wanting to succeed in general.

What questions can help formulate Caring 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 adopt new feelings, interests, or value on the topic.

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

  • How will students find meaning in the learning topic?
  • How will students identify personal interests and enthusiasm in learning topic?
  • How will students learn to commit to personal and professional excellence?

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

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

  • Authentic projects involving the subject
  • Reflective writing
  • Role playing

Keep the domain of Caring in mind when developing a curriculum. In the world of physician burnout and with the preclinical years often heavily memorization-based, Caring is the domain in which curriculum builders can incorporate learning activities to bring forth the meaning and value of medicine. This domain is tied closely to the final learning domain Learning to Learn, as often developing interest/value in a subject promotes willingness to learn.

Conclusion

Caring 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 last learning domain Learning to Learn. 

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