We encourage you to create mentor agreements, or contracts, in partnership with your mentees as you supervise their work.

What is a Mentor Agreement?

Mentor agreements can function like a contract with students outlining goals, expectations, accountability and other aspects of collaborative work and are ideally drafted in partnership with students near the beginning of major projects. 

Given the often open-ended nature of academic work, these agreements can be considered "living documents" that can be modified as conditions change and you realign goals.

Common Characteristics

  • Project goals and anticipated outcomes
  • Timeline of activities and meetings
  • Student's learning and professional development goals
  • Training requirements and plans
  • Communication preferences and contact information
  • Expectations and cultural norms
  • Compliance procedures and ethics
  • Plans for dissemination (conferences, publications, etc.)

Considering Autonomy

Mary Beth Rich and Robert D. Brown describe a “curvilinear relationship between Autonomy and perceived readiness to be a mentee” (297) in their study of student perceptions about their mentoring needs, noting greater need at the earliest and latest periods of development.

“Students who were low in Autonomy perceive themselves as needing or benefitting from a supportive, growth-facilitating relationship. As students become more independent of others, they may rebel for a time and perceive no need for support. 

When the students become more fully autonomous, however, and perhaps become involved more deeply in identity formation, they may search for mentors as role models and once again have an interest in the mentoring relationship.” (298)

Considering this developmental arc and the implications for your experiences working with students, you can plan for periods of growing independence followed by an increasing need for mentorship as projects conclude and students make plans for graduation.

Rice, M. B., & Brown, R. D. (1990). Developmental factors associated with self-perceptions of mentoring competence and mentoring needs. Journal of College Student Development, 31(4), 293–299.