Pedagogy of Interdisciplinary Science Education

Training Program

Welcome To POISE

This site is the home to the Pedagogy of Interdisciplinary Science Education (POISE) training program. The purpose of POISE is to train the instructors of the next generation of interdisciplinary scientists.

As the word Pedagogy is used throughout all of POISE, it is important to define it here. Pedagogy is both the art, science, or profession of teaching as well as the function or work of a teacher. This, in essence, establishes POISE as a program to "teach the teachers."

This training program operates under the governance of its Advisory Council; aligned with its Core Values; and in consideration of the University of Michigan's, Rackham Graduate School's, and the Medical School's mission statements.

What is POISE?

Everyone knows (or has experienced) a "bad" teacher before. This suggests someone has to have some specific characteristics or skill sets to be a "good" teacher. Many teachers that helped us during our most formative years like primary and secondary school were required to undergo some form of training. This was often graduating from a school of education and possibly obtaining a Masters in the education. However, teaching at the graduate-level— specifically in highly interdisciplinary science fields—is uniquely different. This is because many institutions do not require any form of teaching education from their faculty at the graduate-level. POISE was created to address this specific niche realm of teaching.

Put simply POISE is a training program that teaches teachers how to teach. More specifically, POISE helps define and develop formal pedagogical competencies for the future instructors within interdisciplinary science fields. The units of study (or "syllabus") can be found under our Curriculum. In short, POISE will train its cohort in the theoretical basis of how learning works and occurs, establish proven methodologies in developing highly-effective curricula and lessons, and their application within a teaching environment.

Some of the topics covered are Bloom's Taxonomy, lesson planning, rubric design, active learning, and trauma-informed teaching.

What makes POISE different?

Many may see the topics above and say "Doesn't X already to Y?" where X can be UM's Center for Research on Learning and Teaching (CRLT), the School of Education, or any number of other training programs. In a vacuum, the answer is yes. However, the special nature of graduate-level interdisciplinary science requires context.

Most can agree that graduate-level education is inherently different from all other levels. One main reason for this difference are the types of learners within these fields: they are no longer just consumers of information. Graduate-level learners are also producers of knowledge. This requires intensive training in critical thinking and concept synthesis. From the ground up, POISE was developed to contextualize all training around graduate-level education and train educators how to intentionally facilitate the development of these competencies in their students.

The second distinction of POISE is that it fills a highly-specialized section of education: interdisciplinary sciences. Many of these fields are still being developed and most only exist at cutting edge research institutions like the University of Michigan. Some of these fields include biochemisty, molecular & integrative physiology, and bioinformatics. Due to these fields interdisciplinary nature, traditional educational methodologies may not easily carry over. Thus, POISE tailors its curriculum around this unique environment.

So, in a phrase, POISE is a training program on how to effectively teach graduate-level interdisciplinary science.

Why apply to POISE?

There are a number of teaching certificate programs on campus that are available for career development. One of the most well known certificates is the Graduate Teaching Certificate (GTC) from CRLT and one of the newest is the Learning Experience Design Graduate Certificate (LEDGC) from the Center for Academic Innovation.

So the question is "why apply to POISE?" The simplest answer is logistics and context.


The GTC is completely self-paced, and requires keeping track of the many requirements to fulfill. By far, the most difficult part of earning the GTC is attending the correct workshops that CRLT offers. These workshops are often wait listed as soon as they are posted and not every workshop is eligible for the GTC. The LEDGC makes up for this by requiring its members to register for three (3) different courses in the School of Education to fulfill the requirements for this certificate. These courses can take up to 3 credit hours. This means that students have to attend class throughout the week in addition to their research.

To address the ease of use and time of constraints of students, POISE is a curated cohort-based curriculum. That is to say, the cohort attends an extensive series of workshops that take place twice a month over the course of the academic year. No registration and no bookkeeping. This was designed to respect the time for both the cohort member as well as there research advisor(s).

Pending arrangements with CRLT may allow any cohort member that attends these workshops will also fulfill a partial requirements for the GTC. However, POISE is looking into developing itself as a certificate program in and of itself. As such, both possibilities are being explored.


Probably the most difficult to express here is that of context. The certificate programs above are terrific programs in and of themselves. However, they are generalized programs meant to serve the University as a whole. The majority of the CRLT workshops cover topics that are useful for all teachers, but do not focus on graduate-level education—and especially that of interdisciplinary sciences. That is the say, teaching methodologies used in English Composition 101 are dramatically different from those required for Human Genetics 541.

Therefore, POISE contextualizes all of its curriculum around not only how to teach at the graduate level but also how to teach interdisciplinary science.

Who is POISE's intended audience?

POISE is designed to be a career development training program for future educators within the interdisciplinary sciences.

For the pilot cohort of POISE, we are looking for graduate (PhD and Masters) students that have been a graduate student instructor (GSI) at least once.

More importantly is that candidates for POISE should have some desire to teach in the future. This can be someone that has goals for becoming a professor, lecturer, corporate trainer, etc.

Who is part of POISE?

POISE is currently partnering with the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (OGPS), the Program in the Program in the Biomedical Sciences (PIBS), the Department of Computational Medicine and Bioinformatics (DCMB), the School of Education, the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching (CRLT), the Center for Academic Innovation (CAI), and the Michigan Medicine RISE Program. Please feel free to reach out to us (Contact) or any of the members of our Advisory Council for more information.