Journal of Service Science and Management, 2011, 4, 184-190
doi:10.4236/jssm.2011.42022 Published Online June 2011 (
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. JSSM
A Comparative Appraisal of Timings for Program
Evaluation Survey and Related Institutional
Results in Saudi Arabia: Quality Management in
Higher Education
Abdullah Al Rubaish
Office of the Presid e n t , Uni v ersity of Dammam, Damma m, Saudi Arabia.
Received January 29th, 2011; revised April 7th, 2011; accepted May 9th, 2011.
The periodic evaluation of academic programs is mandatory for quality management in higher education world-wide.
This paper reports a unique setting in which each student performed two such evaluations using structured question-
naires, viz.: (a) Student Experience Survey (SES) for their learning experience halfway through their academic pro-
gram, and (b) Program Evaluation Survey (PES) at end of the program. A comparative appraisal of these two sets of
data from students doing the Bachelor of Dental Surgery, College of Dentistry, University of Dammam, Saudi Arabia,
aims to see if it is valid to generalize the observed related differentials in Saudi Arabia. The percentage of students’
participation was 100% in both SES and PES. In the students’ perceived cumulative experience, none of the total 20
items in SES was reported to be of either high or acceptable quality. By contrast, in the PES, one of the 13 items
common to both questionna ires was reported to be of high qu ality (“What I have learnt in this prog ram will be valu-
able for future”). Again, one of nine additional items in PES (“Developed knowledge & skill for my chosen career”)
emerged to be of acceptable quality. In summary, irrespective of timing for PES, the results suggest the need of im-
provements in relation to almost every item confirming ongoing developmental phase.
Keywords: Student Experience Survey, Program Evaluation Survey, Academic Program, Higher Education, High
Quality, Acceptable and Improvement Required Perception
1. Introduction
1.1. Background
The evidence generated from students’ evaluation sur-
veys on specific aspects of the function of Colleges and
universities (e.g. course, faculty, program, support ser-
vices, and the institution in general) remains valuable
input in guiding the management of the quality in higher
education [1,2]. This has led to the continuation of insti-
tutional stud ies involv ing such evalu ations , with resultant
increased the flow of literature on these topics. To
maximize utility of such evidence, in time knowledge
about concerned users and organization of relevant ori-
entation for them are equally important [1 ,2].
In this era of quality in in stitutions of higher edu cation,
especially the race aiming at enhancing the quality, stu-
dents’ evaluations become unavoidable [3-16]. Instead of
reported limitations of such surveys, activities related to
quality developments and their sustainability heav ily rely
on them [1,17]. It demands better understanding of the
use of evaluation results [2,18]. For this, the require-
ments of different g roups of users also need to be stud ied
As reported recently by Rubaish [2], the University of
Dammam (UoD) is currently involved in a range of
evaluations by students. These are required for academic
accreditation by the National Commission for Academic
Accreditation & Assessment (NCAAA). A unique settin g
was described in which two students’ evaluations deal
with the program– viz.: Student Experience Survey (SES)
and Program Evaluation Survey (PES). Whereas the SES
assesses the experience of students midway through a
given academic program, PES does so at the program’s
end. These two terminologies are rare in the literature
A Comparative Appraisal of Timings for Program Evaluation Survey and Related Institutional Results in Saudi Arabia:
Quality Management in Higher Education
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. JSSM
In recent study [2], results under SES of two colleges
were used to describe the related institutional practice,
and also its policy i mplications for the purpose of quality
management in higher education. This study drew atten-
tion to the need for environment specific planning for
that purpose.
The present article is an attempt to provide additional
clues to policy planners involved in program develop-
ment. It has a two-fold objective: first, to describe insti-
tutional practice related to stud ents’ overall experience at
the end of an academic program; and, second, to carry
out its comparative appraisal with students’ overall ex-
perience at halfway of this program [2].
The observations on PES results and its comparative
appraisal with those on SES results [2] might be helpful
to policy planners in under-taking developmental meas-
ures for academic programs. Further, from research as
well as administrative point of view, other academic in-
stitutions might also find these observations equally use-
ful in quality management of their own comparable aca-
demic programs.
1.2. Content Organisation
The content organisation of the article involves various
sections. The next section “2.Materials and Methods”
provides information on collection of data, and also
methods used in its analysis. The section “3.Results and
Discussion” describes PES results as well as comparative
PES vs. SES results. Fourth section “Summary and Con-
clusions” mainly points out the issues related to utilities
of PES and SES. The next three sections are related to
limitations; futu re study; and acknowledg emen ts. Finally,
in the end, references are also listed.
2. Materials and Methods
2.1. Data
Both data sets (PES and SES) were acquired from the
same academic program, namely, a 12–semester program
of Bachelor of Dental Surgery. PES data were collected
on 27 October 2010 from students who completed 12
semesters of this program and joined as interns during
the academic year 2010-2011. The SES data [2] were
collected on 27 February 2010 from students of the 7th
semesters under this program during the academic year
Under PES, questionnaire was handed over to each of
the 21 students and could be collected from each of them.
Likewise, under SES, questionnaire was handed over to
each of the 20 students and could be collected from each
of them. Under each of these two surveys, response rate
was 100%. Hence it can satisfy a requirement for gener-
alisability of the observ ed results [20], especially, in Col-
lege of Dentistry of the University of Dammam (UoD).
However, because of availability of limited sample and
also varying environment, this study will be carried out
later in an extended manner in other colleges of the UoD.
The PES questionnaires had 22 items (Appendix 1)
whereas SES questionnaire had 20 [2]. Of these items, 13
are common to both questionnaires (Table 2). Each of
the items is a “Likert type item”. To b e more precise, the
degree of agreement with a statement was recorded on a
five-point ordinal scale [2].
2.2. Analytical Methods
The methods appropriate in item by item analysis of
evaluation data on an ordinal scale [21] are the same as
those documented by Rubaish et al. [22] and used by
Rubaish [2]. However, to report analytical methods used
on PES data, each of the four measures used in item by
item analysis and respective performance grading criteria
[2,22] are again reproduced below (see the bottom):
Given that the ultimate goal is to achieve agreement
for each item by at least 80% of students, for the statisti-
cal comparison between PES and SES results (Table 2),
the preference is to use the cumulative % of students
with rating score 4 or 5, and its 95% confidence interval
(95% C.I.) [23].
2.2.1. Pooled Analysis
In the SES data [2], each program at UoD is under de-
velopmental phase, especially regarding academic ac-
creditation by NCAAA. Similarly, each of the 22 items
in PES data related to this program might be considered
equally important. The pooled results are depicted in a
diagram, describing the distribution of total items in rela-
tion to their performance levels using four measures of
agreement: namely: mean, median, first quartile and cu-
mulative % of students with rating score 4 or 5.
3. Results and Discussion
Table 1 lists the analytical results related to each item in
Performance Grading Mean Median First QuartileCumulative % of students with score 4 or 5
High Quality 3.6 above 4 & 5 4 & 5 80 & Above
Acceptable 2.6 - 3.6 3 3 60 - 80
Improvement required Less than 2.6 1 & 2 1&2 Less than 60
A Comparative Appraisal of Timings for Program Evaluation Survey and Related Institutional Results in Saudi Arabia:
Quality Management in Higher Education
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. JSSM
Table 1. Program evaluation survey results.
Item # Similar SES Item Number Mean Median 1st Quartile Cum. % of 4 or 5
1 3.0 3 2 43
2 03 3.3 4 3 52
3 2.7 3 2 29
4 2.5 2 2 19
5 3.1 3 3 33
6 2.8 3 2 33
7 12 2.4 2 2 19
8 18 4.0 4 4 81
9 3.1 3 3 48
10 08 2.1 2 1 14
11 05 3.5 3 3 48
12 06 2.1 2 1 14
13 10 1.6 1 1 05
14 11 2.6 2 2 24
15 3.2 3 3 48
16 17 3.2 3 2 48
17 15 3.2 3 2 43
18 19 3.4 4 3 52
19 16 3.1 3 2 33
20 14 2.8 3 2 33
21 3.6 4 3 62
22 3.2 3 2 48
Table 2. Comparison of PES (n = 21) & SES (n = 20) Results.
Item No. Cum. % 4 or 5 (95% C.I.)
# Items Under PES SESPES SES
Both PES & SES
1 Consultation & advise opportunity by instructors 02 03 52 (31, 74) 00 (00, 00)
2 Faculty interest in students' progress 07 12 19 (02, 36) 15 (00, 31)
3 Valuable knowledge & skill for future career 08 18 81 (64, 98) 25 (06, 44)
4 Sufficient library resources 10 08 14 (–1, 29) 10 (–3, 23)
5 Adequate classroom facilities 11 05 48 (26, 69) 45 (23, 67)
6 Sufficient computing facilities 12 06 14 (–1, 29) 00 (00, 00)
7 Adequate facilities for extracurricular activities 13 10 05 (–4, 14) 00 (00, 00)
8 Adequate facilities for religious observances 14 11 24 (06, 42) 17 (00, 34)
9 Stimulating interest in further learning 16 17 48 (26, 69) 05 (–4, 15)
10 Increased ability to investigate and solve new problems 17 15 43 (22, 64) 30 (10, 50)
11 Improved ability to work in groups 18 19 52 (31, 74) 40 (19, 61)
12 Improved communication skill 19 16 33 (13, 53) 20 (02, 38)
13 Developed skills to investigate issues & communicate results20 14 33 (13, 53) 10 (00, 23)
PES Only
14 Adequate academic & career counseling 01 43 (22, 64)
15 Inspiration to do best by instructor 03 29 (09, 48)
16 Helpful feedback from instructors 04 19 (02, 36)
17 Thorough knowledgeable instructors 05 33 (13, 53)
18 Enthusiastic instructors 06 33 (13, 53)
19 Up-to-date & useful study material 09 48 (26, 69)
20 Effective field experience programs 15 48 (26, 69)
21 Developed knowledge & skill for chosen career 21 62 (41, 83)
22 Overall Satisfaction as a student at university 22 48 (26, 69)
SES Only
23 Easy to find information about University 01 05 (–4, 15)
24 Helpful orientation week 02 25 (06, 44)
25 Simple & efficient procedure for enrolling in courses 04 05 (–4, 15)
26 Helpful library staff 07 25 (06, 44)
27 Convenient opening timings of for library 09 00 (00, 00)
28 Faculty are fair in their treatment of students 13 00 (00, 00)
29 Overall Satisfaction as a student at university 20 00 (00, 00)
A Comparative Appraisal of Timings for Program Evaluation Survey and Related Institutional Results in Saudi Arabia:
Quality Management in Higher Education
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. JSSM
PES. The similarity of PES items with SES items [2] has
also been recorded in second column of this table. In
addition, pooled PES results at program level are em-
bodied in Figure 1. For comparison with the SES results,
although not listed here, those already reported by
Rubaish [2] were used. The successive sections describe
the planned observations.
3.1. PES Results
When the mean grading criterion was used, it was found
that “high quality” perception of students was only 2/22
(9%) items (Table 1). The two items were “valuable
knowledge & skill for the future career”; and “I devel-
oped knowledge and skills for my career.” The “accept-
able” rating was observed in 15/22 (68%) items. They
were “adequate academic & career counseling; consulta-
tion & advise opportunity by instructors; inspiration to
do best by instructor; thorough knowledgeable instruc-
tors; enthusiastic instructors; up-to-date and useful study
materials; adequate facilities for religious observances;
effective field experience programs; stimulating interest
in further learning; increased ability to investigate/solve
problems; improved ability to work in groups; improved
communication skills; developed skills in using technol-
ogy to investigate issues & communicate results; and
overall satisfied with the quality of learning experi-
ences.” The remaining 5/22 (23%) items had students’
rating as “improvement required”. They were “helpful
feedback from instructors; faculty interest in students’
progress; sufficient library resources and its availability;
sufficient computing facility; and adequate facilities for
extracurricular activities.”
The consideration of the median rating of an item im-
plies that at least 50% of the stud ents assigned that rating
to the item. Its use yields more clarity in observations
and their implications [2,22]. Under the related perform-
ance grading criterion, apart from 3/22 (14%) items, the
earlier observations remain unchanged. The students’
ratings now improved from “acceptable” to “high qual-
ity” in relation to two items, first- consultation & advice
opportunity by instructors; and second- improved ability
to work in groups.” In contrast, in relation to third item,
students’ perception of adequate facilities for religious
observances, declined from “acceptable” to “improve-
ment required”. Out of 22 items, “high quality”, “ac-
ceptable” and “improvement required” items converged
in 4 (18%), 12 (55%) and 6 (27%) items respectively
(Figure 1).
Instead of earlier target of achieving satisfaction
among at least 50% students, an increase in satisfaction
level to at least 75% (first quartile), its related grading
criterion lowered proportion of items with “high quality”
Figure 1. Pooled PES results.
to 5 % (1/22) and “acceptable” to 32% (7/22). As a result,
as evident from Figure 1, it increased those with “im-
provement requir ed” to 63% (14 /22). The on ly ite m rated
with “high quality” was “valuable knowledge & skill for
future career.”
The performance grading criterion based on further
increase in satisfaction level to at least 80% failed to alter
earlier ratings of item with “high quality”. However, it
pushed down the satisfaction level in majority (6/7) of
the items with “acceptable” rating earlier. As a result,
apart from one item (5%) with “high quality” and another
one (5%) with “acceptable” ratings, 90% of the remain-
ing items (20/22) need further improvements (Figure 1).
3.2. Comparative PES vs. SES Results
The comparative observations between PES results just
described in the previous section and SES results re-
cently reported by Rubaish [2] are presented next. To do
this, use of 95% C.I. (Table 2) of the cumulative % of
students with their reported ratings 4 or 5 was made. For
this, comparison between PES and SES questionnaires
revealed that PES has 60% (13/22) common questions
with those in SES (Table 2). Among them, results of
70% (10/13) of the items were in comparable range.
These items were: adequate classroom facilities; suffi-
cient computing facilities; sufficient library resources;
adequate facilities for extracurricular activities; adequate
facilities for religious observances; faculty interest in
students’ progress; developed skills to investigate issues
& communicate results; increased ability to investigate
and solve new prob lems; improved communicatio n skills;
and improved ability to work in groups. In relation to
remaining three items, the observed proportions of satis-
fied students were significantly higher under PES in
comparison to those under SES. These items were: con-
sultation and advise opportunity by instructors; stimulat-
A Comparative Appraisal of Timings for Program Evaluation Survey and Related Institutional Results in Saudi Arabia:
Quality Management in Higher Education
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. JSSM
ing interest in fu rther learning; an d knowledg e & skill for
future career.
There were nine additional items (Table 2) in PES.
Students had agreement with each of them. It ranged
from 19% to 62%. These items were: adequate academic
& career counseling; inspiration to do best by instructor;
helpful feedback from instructors; instructors’ thorough
knowledgeable of subject areas; enthusiastic instructors;
up-to-date and useful study material; effective field ex-
perience programs; developed knowledge and skill for
chosen career; and also the overall satisfaction with the
quality of learning experiences at the University of
Out of the additional seven items under SES (Table 2),
apart from two items (namely helpful orientation week;
and helpful library staff), students failed to agree on the
remaining items. These items were: easy to find informa-
tion about University; simple and efficient procedure for
enrolling in courses; convenient opening timing of li-
brary; faculty are fair in their treatment of students; and,
also the overall satisfaction as a student at the Univ ersity
of Dammam.
4. Summary and Conclusions
PES & SES are both program evaluation surveys. On one
hand, once the students complete an academic program,
PES tries to capture their experiences on specific items
related to that program. On the other hand, SES tries to
capture experiences of students on specific items related
to an academic program, immediately after they com-
plete half-period of that program [2]. Apart from varying
timings of surveys and number of involved items, they
were both, essentially, program evaluations. But, for the
sake of easier differentiation and clarity in management,
they have been named differently.
As described earlier, this university has a unique set-
ting of presently using both program evaluations. The
two pertinent questionnaires have 13 items in common.
Further, PES has nine additional items whereas SES has
seven. The additional PES items (Table 2) mainly relate
to various academic attributes in faculty; field experience
(internship, practicum, cooperative training); knowledge
and skills for chosen career; and also overall satisfaction
with the quality of learning experiences at the UoD. On
the other hand, the ad ditional SES items (Table 2) relate
to mainly initial stage of program development. Th ey are
related to admission, orientation, course enrollment; li-
brary staff an d its opening time; treat ment of studen ts by
faculty; and also overall satisfaction as a student at the
Although it may be useful to have more information,
especially during developing phase of a program, keep-
ing in view of the almost comparable results related to 13
common items in PES & SES, one may argue against
repeated use of both program evaluation tools. This view
is more applicable to programs which become fully es-
tablished. To support it further, the results on additional
SES items clearly relate to initial stages of the program
development. There may not be much utility in repeated
surveys to capture data on these aspects. Most of these
items need to be managed at the level of academic pro-
gram developers. But, most of the additional PES items
need occasional follows up so that related process can be
meaningfully monitored, especially among faculty for
further improvements.
The observations made in the present study might also
be useful to other institutions having similar environ-
ments, especially those wo rking for quality and academic
accreditation in higher education.
5. Limitations
This study is limited to only one college of this univer-
sity with its specific environment. Also, the considered
academic program involves comparatively a small num-
ber of students. To ensure appropriate generalizability of
the results even in similar environment, a program in-
volving larger number of students would be a better
choice. Hence, one needs to be careful while generalizing
these results.
6. Future Research
Each college as well as program involves varying envi-
ronment [2]. Thus, each college requires such evaluations
in relation to each of its academic programs. The feed-
back from students regarding an academic program is
unavoidable especially when it is early phase of devel-
opments. The meaningful clues derived from such
evaluations may be helpful to the policy planners in
managing sustainab le high quality in higher education.
7. Acknowledgements
The author is thankful to Professor Lade Wosornu and Dr
Sada Nand Dwivedi, Deanship of Quality & Academic
Accreditation (DQAA), University of Dammam [UoD],
for their help in completion of this article. He is equally
thankful to Dr Fahad A. Al-Harbi, Dean, College of Den-
tistry; and Dr Sarfaraj Akhtar, Quality Management Of-
ficer, Q & P Unit, College of Dentistry, for their help and
cooperation in data collection. Also, helps from Mr. R.
Somasundaram, Mr Arun Vijay, & Mr C. C. L. Raymond,
DQAA, UoD, in this regard are duly acknowledged. He
is equally thankful to Mr Royes Joseph, DQAA, UoD,
for his help in analysis. Finally, he also thanks to all stu-
dents for their mature, balan ced and objective response.
A Comparative Appraisal of Timings for Program Evaluation Survey and Related Institutional Results in Saudi Arabia:
Quality Management in Higher Education
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. JSSM
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A Comparative Appraisal of Timings for Program Evaluation Survey and Related Institutional Results in Saudi Arabia:
Quality Management in Higher Education
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. JSSM
Appendix 1: Program Evaluation Survey Questionnaire
1) Adequate academic and career coun selling was available for me throughout the program.
2) The instructors were available for consultatio n and advice when I needed to speak with them.
3) The instructors in the program insp ired me to do my best.
4) The instructors in the program gave me helpful feedback on my work.
5) The instructors in the program had thoroug h knowledge of the content of the courses they taught.
6) The instructors were enthusiastic about the program.
7) The instructors cared about the progress of their students.
8) What I have learned in this program will be valuable for my future.
9) Study materials in courses were up-to-date and useful.
10) Library resources were adequate and available when I needed them.
11) Classroom facilities (for lectures, laboratories, tutorials etc) were of good quality.
12) Student computing facilities were sufficient for my needs.
13) Adequate facilities were available for extracurricular activities (including sporting and recreational activities).
14) Adequate facilities were available for religious observances.
15) Field experience programs (internship, practicum, cooperative training) were effective in developing my skills.
(Omit this item if not applicable to your pr ogram).
16) As a result of this program I have developed sufficient interest to want to continue to keep up to date with new
developments in my field of study.
17) The program developed my ability to investigate and solve new problems.
18) The program improved my ability to work effectively in groups.
19) The program improved my sk ills in communication.
20) I have developed good basic skills in using technology to investigate issues and communicate results.
21) I am confident that I have developed the knowledge and skills required for my chosen career.
22) Overall, I was satisfied with the quality of my learning experiences at this institution.