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Students as Partners Toolkit


Outlining Shared Roles and Responsibilities

Susan Vickery, Wendy Radcliffe, and Craig Patterson


The induction of students into your Students as Partner program is a crucial step towards its success. There are several issues to consider and discuss with your students to ensure they understand what is expected from them, and to support them into a successful transition. The following tips will help lay a great foundation to building your partnership of respect and reciprocity and reflects that this is a complex relationship with new roles for everyone (Cook-Sather et al., 2014).

  What the student needs to understand or do What they can expect from us 

Clarify their role and their expectations and identify the benefits

  • Clarify if they are representing a cohort or just themselves.
  • Identify previous experiences of SAP that could influence their expectation - do they have lessons learnt that they can contribute to this activity?
  • Motivation – ask them to reflect on why they put themselves forward for this opportunity
  • Ensure they understand the value they bring and the role they play in the project or initiative (these responses will be part of ongoing reflection activity throughout the experience)


  • Introduce the students to the team and explain their role and value and unique perspective 
  • Support them in overcoming any feelings of imposter syndrome
  • Establish and articulate an understanding of mutual learning
  • Ensure they understand the value they bring and the role they play in the project or initiative (this will be part of ongoing reflection activity throughout the experience).


Clarify the project/initiative 

  • Indicate they understand the goals of project. 
  • Appreciate that they may be new and engage with background reading, or introductory activity that helps explain the context 
  • Understand roles, tasks, timeframes
  • Involve them from the start of the project – so they have an understanding of the scope, goals, why this is important, background information to help bring up to speed 
  • Ensure they have access to all project documentation. 
  • Check-in (many times) that they understand. 



  • Identify the skills and experiences they bring and the potential area where they may need support
  • Recognise the opportunity to build and develop non- technical competencies (soft skills), learn, prioritise, take responsibility, self- efficacy, make decisions, solve problems, communicate and work as a team


  • Support the development of any skills / background knowledge e.g., time management, background reading, software, project methodology
  • Provide support in developing teamwork and professional skills
  • Provide guidance regarding any organisational, governance, and cultural considerations or potential sensitivities (any hidden minefields)?


Connecting as a team 

  • Share with the team any relevant background, skills, expertise or interests that can contribute to the project



  • Allow sufficient time for the team to form a partnership prior to commencing project work. Don’t start without them!
  • Introduce the whole team - who they are, what their expertise is, what are their roles, establish expectations
  • Support of positive and negative outcomes, celebrate positives and learn from mistakes, and recognise there may not be predetermined outcomes


Commitment to authenticity 

  • Understand the need for honest and authentic participation, with respect and constructive criticism
  • Identify potential conflicts of interest and understanding of privacy or confidentiality considerations
  • Professional & ethical approach


  • Facilitate discussion to ensure they have a voice 
  • Provide a safe place for them to share collaborate and experiment
  • Disclose interests which may impact the partnership
  • Professional & ethical approach


Respect and dedicate the time required 

  • Understand the expectation to come to meetings prepared
  • Meet or negotiate time frames, but also advise when there is an impact on studies
  • Timely communication and recognition (and reward/pay) of time required of un-scheduled workloads e.g background reading required before meeting. 
  • Understand that they must also meet their study requirements  


  • Reach out for help, and understand who and how to contact  



  • Ensure access to key documentation and timely access to information
  • Verbal persuasion- encouragement regarding their contribution inputs and outputs 
  • Provide a mentor or buddy


Logistics and access

  • Establish regular times to meet (even just to ask a question) outside of formal meetings
  • Identify competing commitments 
  • Utilise channels of communication and other professional expectations (e.g. dress code)
  • Be available to be contacted outside of scheduled meeting times
  • Enable ready access to relevant or essential documentation
  • Clarify agreed channels of communication