Creating Effective Mentoring Partnerships for Students With Intellectual Disabilities on Campus


Correspondence: Melissa M. Jones, PhD, Associate Professor of Special Education, Northern Kentucky University, Business, Education, and Psychology Center, 286 Highland Heights, KY 41099 USA. Tel: +1 859-572-1423; E-mail:


Mentoring of students with intellectual disabilities (ID) in postsecondary education settings can be a beneficial support to enhancing their educational and social experiences. The authors report on a mentoring program undertaken at one regional American university and the qualitative research study they engaged in to determine what made the mentoring program effective and how the current program should evolve. Data were collected via focus group discussions involving the mentoring partners (college students both with and without disabilities), professors, parents, and a staff member from the disability services office. The study identified several key components for creating and improving effective mentoring partnerships on a university campus. These include (1) providing mentoring orientations and faculty training; (2) developing effective systems for communicating and collaborating across stakeholders; (3) promoting the establishment of co-equal relationships among mentoring partners; (4) maintaining high expectations for students with ID; (5) using mentors as resources to professors and establishing natural supports in the college classroom; (6) encouraging independence; (7) prioritizing fun and socializing; and (8) staying focused on the big picture of inclusion. The authors concluded that the study provided insight into the strengths of effective mentoring support programs while simultaneously placing a spotlight on potential challenges and drawbacks.