Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

A Health Policy Course Based on Fink's Taxonomy of Significant Learning

Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

A Health Policy Course Based on Fink's Taxonomy of Significant Learning

Article excerpt


During a pharmacy law course, the first author (K.K.) observed students using higher-order learning skills to help them memorize the law. This observation did not seem consistent with Bloom's cognitive taxonomy. A colleague later recommended a book entitled Creating Significant Learning Experiences to explain the observations. (1) The book challenges readers to reconsider how time is used in the classroom. The principles learned led to the author's redesign of a health policy course using the Taxonomy of Significant Learning. A description of the redesign and subsequent assessment are described here.

Learning is the act, process, or experience of gaining knowledge or skills. For learning to occur there must be some change in the learner; for significant learning to occur, there should be lasting change that is important to the learner. (1) To help teachers facilitate this type of change in learners, Fink's Taxonomy of Significant Learning delineates significant kinds of learning (Table 1). Unlike other approaches, such as Bloom's cognitive taxonomy, the components in Fink's Taxonomy are relational to and interactive with one another rather than hierarchical. Fink's Taxonomy has been used to engage students in a pharmacokinetics course, (2) but has not been used in a health policy course.

Interest in a topic is a requisite for engaging students and creating change that is important to the learner. Hidi and Renninger proposed the Four-Phase Model of Interest as a tool that educators can use to identify and develop students' interest in the course topic. (3) The 4 phases are: (1) Triggered Situational Interest (interest is stimulated from short-term changes in cognitive and affective processing triggered from external sources); (2) Maintained Situational Interest (focused attention persists over a period of time); (3) Emerging Individual Interest (beginning personal interest that will cause students to re-engage in the material over time); and (3) Well-Developed Individual Interest (strong personal interest and desire to engage in the material repeatedly over time). (3) Progress through the 4 phases of the model is sequential, with the first 2 phases being stimulated by external forces. Fink's Taxonomy of Significant Learning could be used as a framework to stimulate interest in a subject to the extent that it becomes internalized and sustained.

To create interest and help pharmacy students engage in the policy process, a health policy course at the University of Wyoming School of Pharmacy was redesigned to incorporate activities that touched on the components of Fink's Taxonomy. The previous course design had covered the same topics as the new course but used a different format. Also, the majority of course content had been provided by guest lecturers (former state health officials or healthcare policy researchers) and students found this distracting because their lecture styles and depth of coverage of the material varied greatly.

The objectives of this study were to determine (1) whether a health policy course redesigned to incorporate Fink's Taxonomy of Significant Learning increased students' knowledge of health policy and the healthcare system, interest in health policy and the healthcare system, and perceived importance of learning about health policy and the healthcare system; and (2) students' willingness to participate in the policy process after participating in the course; (3) which classroom activities addressed the various components of the Taxonomy of Significant Learning; and (4) whether there is a difference between students who have low versus higher interest in health policy at the beginning of the class.


The required health policy course was offered in the spring semester of the second year. During the previous summer, students had completed two 4-week introductory practice experiences (IPPEs) (1 community pharmacy and 1 hospital pharmacy IPPE), which ensured they all had some exposure to the healthcare system. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.