How Fink’s Taxonomy Can Improve Your Curriculum Part Seven: Learning to Learn

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 the final domain, Learning to Learn, 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 Learning to Learn into your curriculum. 

What is Learning to Learn?

Learning to Learn is a learning domain in which learners become self-directed and better learners. In essence, this learning domain is teaching students how to become life-long learners. Students may learn how to develop new learning questions, how to use self-regulatory principles to ensure learning is occurring, or how to incorporate learning feedback to develop mastery learning. In the case above on developing a curriculum on diabetes management in the pre-clinical years, having students identify three self-directed questions and presenting their findings to the class would be an example of Learning to Learn. 

What questions can help formulate Learning to Learn 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 self-directed learners.

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

  • What should students learn about strategies to be better learners?
  • What should students learn about how to construct clinical inquiries and evaluate data?
  • What should students learn about self-directed and intentional learning?

What are the types of learning strategies that incorporate Learning to Learn into a curriculum?

There are many different learning strategies that can be used for Learning to Learn including:

  • Self directed learning goals and questions
  • Self feedback and peer feedback
  • Didactics on evidenced based learning techniques (spaced repetition, interleaving, etc.)
  • Teaching others


Learning to Learn 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 be the conclusion of the series and summarize how implementing Fink’s Taxonomy can transform curricula. 

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