The 21st century began with many challenges,
especially in the health education sector. Oral health being the
foremost and a leading line of defense against many diseases
was, therefore, given prime importance. A number of dental
associations and dental accreditation agencies emerged in
different regions of the world to improve the quality of
education and training in dentistry. Such associations mainly
focus on quantitative and qualitative assessments relating to
all aspects of the dental education,1including curriculum, role
of faculty, staff, laboratories, equipments, clinical services,
students' support system, teaching methodologies, learning
techniques, academic counselling as well as institutional
leadership and learning environment.2These attributes have a
direct impact on the performance of dental students in terms
of interpersonal development, clinical and theoretical skills,
provided that these are integrated with highly developed
dental curriculum, ethical and professional principles as well
as with the cognitive and psychomotor skills.3
Most of the published studies about teaching and
learning have been carried out in North America and Europe.4
However, results from other parts of the world could be
different due to the huge differences in curricula and
education systems. There is an agreement in the literature that
improvement of the existing courses and changes in the
curriculum may play a significantly positive role in the
achievements of medical and dental students.5For example,
students of Jefferson Medical College (JMC) in Philadelphia,
who studied a revised curriculum of pathology, performed
significantly better (P<0.001) in the National Board of
Medical Examiners (NBME) Part-I Examination as
compared to those who studied the old courses. This
improvement was maintained throughout the entire study
period stretching over four years. Consequently, the
816J Pak Med Assoc
Significance of primary factors influencing students’ performance at the
College of Dentistry, King Saud University, Saudi Arabia
Mohammad Al-Amri,1Ebtissam Al-Madi,2Walid Mahmoud Sadig,3Muhammad Shoaib Ahmedani,4Ziad Salameh5
Department of Prosthetic Dental Sciences,1,3Department of Restorative Sciences,2College of Dentistry, King Saud University,4,5
Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Corresponding Author: Mohammad Al-Amri. Email: email@example.com
Objective: To determine the effect of different enabling factors such as curriculum, role of faculty, academic
advising and availability of learning resources and supportive services on the performance of students pursuing
their Bachelor's degree in dentistry.
Methods: Data was collected from the male and female students of the College of Dentistry, King Saud
University, during the academic year 2008-2009. All undergraduate students (576) constituted the total sample
size of the study. The respondents were requested to fill a questionnaire form, which was specially designed in
accordance with requirements of the Association for Dental Education in Europe (ADEE). The questionnaire
comprised 45 questions addressing all aspects of the relevant factors. The five-point Likert scale was used to
evaluate the feedback. All the responses (239) were thoroughly examined and only the completely filled forms
(169) were subjected to regression analyses, taking student`s CGPA as a dependent factor and a depiction of
their performance. The t-tests were also worked out to evaluate variations in the responses of male and female
students to each sub-factor.
Results: The study showed a significant impact of faculty and learning resources and support services on a
student's achievement (α= 0.05). Surprisingly, academic advising and the dental curriculum had non-significant
effect at 95 % level of confidence. However, the critical analyses acknowledged that the non-significant impact
was due to poor performance of the two factors.
Conclusion: The role of faculty and learning resources as well as of support services had significant effect on
students' performance. However, there is an immense need to improve the level of academic advising and revise
the curriculum to have a significant impact of these factors on the student's achievements.
Keywords: Student performance, Role of faculty, Dental curriculum, Academic advising, Learning resources,
Student support services. (JPMA 62: 816; 2012)
curriculum reform was associated with the students'
performance and satisfaction.6Further studies conducted at
Texas A&M University, College Station, USA, proved that
updating old courses, revision of curriculum by introducing
new courses, enhancement in learning/teaching resources,
optimum use of the advanced teaching techniques, class room
environment and intensification of communication skills are
crucial to raise successful graduates. It was, therefore,
recommended that the universities must pay more attention to
improve teaching skills by employing advanced teaching
methodologies, teaching aids, improved course structure,
effective communication skills, academic guidance and
students` counselling.7Furthermore, the use of teaching aids
and information technology has shown promising results on
the performance of students.8Apart from curriculum, the role
of faculty and academic advising have shown significant
impact on the overall achievement of students.
Empirical evidence in the available literature indicates
the vital impact of student-faculty collaborations on the
success and performance of the undergraduates.9Pascarella
and Terenzini concluded that student-faculty interaction
exerts positive impact on performance and achievements of
both entities.10For instance, a study done to determine
teachers' effectiveness11indicated a difference of 39% points
in students' performance just because of the most effective
and the least effective teachers. The achievement gain of
students taught by the most effective teachers touched 53
percentage points whereas those taught by the least effective
teachers could not cross 14 percentage points.12Similar
inferences were drawn by Sanders13and Wenglinsky.14Other
factors such as laboratory equipment, clinical facilities,
library resources, transportation services, cafeteria, medical
treatment services have direct as well as indirect effect on the
students' progress and achievements. The schools which
allocate sufficient finances for these resources have shown
excellent results in relation to the student's performance.15
Unfortunately, inadequate research has been done to
study the factors affecting the achievement of dental students
in Asian and African regions. Therefore, the present
investigation was carried out at the College of Dentistry, King
Saud University, to explore the effect of curriculum, role of
faculty, academic advising and learning resources on
students' performance, using Cumulative Grade Point
Average (CGPA) as a measure of students` performance.16
We believe that the findings will be helpful for policymakers,
academicians, faculty and students` advisors involved in the
process of raising competent dentists.
Materials and Methods
The study was conducted from September 2008 to
June 2009 in Deriyah University Campus (DUC, Male) and
Malaz University Campus (MUC, Female) of the College of
Dentistry, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Both campuses offer
Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) programmes and are
administered by the same dean, vice-deans and chairpersons
of different departments.
The study aimed at finding out how was the
curriculum influencing students' performance in terms of
their grades, and what was the role of faculty in this regard. It
also explored if the academic advising available to students at
the college was a factor in their performance. Apart from
looking at all the existing learning resources and student
support services at the two campuses and their impact on
students' performance, the study also explored if there were
any differences between male and female students in the
outcomes of the effect of various factors on performance.
All BDS students (576) at DUC and MUC were
eligible to fill the survey forms. The Quality unit of the
college supervised the distribution and collection of the
survey forms. The students were at liberty to fill these forms
according to their personal experience and independent
perception. It was made clear to all the respondents that their
participation was voluntary and filling of the forms will be
taken as an indirect informed consent. The received survey
forms were thoroughly examined. Incomplete and partially-
filled forms were rejected and only the complete forms were
used for statistical analyses.
The questionnaire had 45 questions relating to
different aspects of the BDS programme such as Curriculum,
Faculty, Academic Advising, Learning resources and
Students` support services. All questions were closed-
response questions wherein the students were required to
score their opinion on a five-point Likert scale.17Also, other
related demographic information as well as Cumulative
Grade Point Average (CGPA) was collected. The CGPA was
considered as a measure of students' performance and
The data was analysed using the SPSS (Statistical
Package for the Social Sciences) version 16.0. Considering
students' CGPA as a dependent factor, the effect of
independent factors was worked out through regression
analyses. Analysis of Variance was computed for each factor.
Also, t-tests were worked out to evaluate variations in the
responses of male and female students to each sub-factor.
Significance was tested at p<0.05 level of probability.
A total of 576 forms were distributed among all
undergraduate BDS students at the College of Dentistry. The
returned survey forms were 239 (40.5%). Incomplete forms
were rejected (n= 70), while 169 were considered for
statistical analyses. Regression analyses with ANOVA and R
Vol. 62, No. 8, August 2012817
Square values were worked out for each factor (Table-1).
The mean values and standard deviations of students'
responses under the Course Material category depicted a non-
significant effect of the curriculum on the students'
performance. The students were satisfied about the clarity of
objectives of the courses, reference books and distribution of
grades at the start of each semester with a mean score of
3.95±0.072 S.E, while responses to other questions relating to
the curriculum were scored between 2.85±0.085 and
818J Pak Med Assoc
Table-1: Regression Analyses.
Factor AnalysedMultiple RR2 Resutls of Analyses of Variance
S.O.V DF SS MSFP
1. Course Material0.3300.109 Regression 166.790.42 1.16280.30 NS
2. Role of Faculty 0.3830.146Regression 109.15 0.915 2.7190.0041
3. Academic Advising.0.140.019Regression3 1.220.401.1012 0.35 NS
4. Learning Resources / Students Support Services.0.41 0.176Regression1610.970.682.03050.0144
Residual 152 51.350.33
Total df in and SS in case of each factor 16862.33
Table-2: Comparison of mean responses of male and female students regarding Course Material.
No Question Detail Mean ± SD t-test Probability
1 The information about objectives, requirements, reference books relating to the courses as well
as distribution of grades are clear since the start of each semester3.95±0.94-2.34** 0.020
2 Availability of sources and references for making decisions2.85±1.110.14 N.S.0.883
3Students are provided with grades in a timely fashion 3.14±1.042-0.96N.S.0.335
4The evaluation of students` performance is fair3.13±0.980.95 N.S.0.339
5Distribution of the grades is according to the course requirements3.30±0.98-2.02**0.044
6The amount of work is commensurate with the number of credit hours specified for the courses3.01±1.12-0.23 N.S.0.816
7 Test questions are clear and understandable2.91±0.93-1.01 N.S.0.310
8Test questions cover most of the topics of the respective courses3.37±0.87-1.23 N.S.0.219
9Methods of evaluating performance of students greatly vary3.19±1.01 -0.99 N.S.0.320
10Courses help me to improve my skills3.27±1.07-1.42 N.S.0.154
11Courses help to improve my ability to communicate effectively3.34±0.97-0.57 N.S. 0.568
12Courses help me to improve my ability to solve problems3.19±1.04-1.12 N.S.0.262
13Content of courses vary greatly3.44±0.830.23 N.S.0.813
14Methods of teaching of courses vary greatly2.97±0.910.13 N.S.0.891
15Topics of the lectures in each course are appropriately embedded with practical aspect3.54±0.97-1.55 N.S.0.122
16The faculty-student ratio is appropriate2.88±1.30-5.04 N.S.1.190
N.S.= Non-Significant ** Significant at P<0.05.
Table-3: Comparison of mean responses of male and female students regarding the Impact of Faculty.
NoQuestion DetailMean ± SD t-testProbability
17Faculty members are well-prepared with lecture material3.74±0.80-2.69**0.007
18Faculty members use teaching methods and teaching aids to enhance learning and understanding
of the subject 3.21±1.02-1.03N.S.0.302
19Faculty members support lectures with the latest information available in the scientific articles4.05±0.86-0.01N.S. 0.991
20Faculty members encourage the students to seek knowledge from various sources3.53±1.023-2.23** 0.026
21 Faculty members treat students gently and respectfully 3.58±1.09 -3.44**0.000
22Faculty members welcome the students' questions3.83±1.03 -2.778*0.006
23Faculty members are keen to tell the students about their mistakes and to develop their knowledge
and skills2.11±0.46 -0.92N.S. 0.353
24 Faculty members are committed to delivery of lectures 3.08±0.97 -1.65 N.S. 0.099
25 Faculty members are committed to the time allocated for lecture 4.20±0.85 -3.68** 0.000
26Faculty members are available during the specified office hours 3.44±1.22 0.39 N.S.0.691
N.S.= Non-Significant ** Significant at P<0.05.
Comparison of the responses of male and female
students exhibited non-significant difference for all
questions, except in Question 1 & 5, which related to the
course syllabus and grade distribution (P<0.05).
The same method was applied to questions related to
the Effect of Faculty on students' performance (Table-3).
Regression analyses pertaining to the role of faculty in
improving achievements of the students were found highly
significant (F (11,157) = 2.45 at P<0.0073). The students'
responses were noteworthy for all questions in the category.
Mean values for most of the questions varied between
3.44±0.094 to 4.20±0.065. This satisfactory attitude of the
students indicated that the faculty was playing a significant
role in augmenting students` achievements. However, the
average response of the students to question #23
(2.11±0.035) demanded that the faculty needed to focus
more on improving cognitive, psychomotor, interpersonal
and numerical skills by highlighting as well as correcting
As far as differences in perception of male and female
students were concerned, there were significant variations in
responses regarding the role of faculty. These variations were
mostly related to the preparedness of the faculty before the
delivery of lectures, encouragement by the faculty, respect
given by the faculty and adhering to the time limit for
lectures. However, no significant differences in the responses
were recorded for questions dealing with the effectiveness of
teaching methods, latest knowledge and the availability of
faculty during their office hours.
Statistically, Academic Advising had a non-
significant effect on the students' performance as perceived
by the respondents. The overall score for this category was
2.972±0.089 (Table-4). Results indicated that students were
less satisfied with the available academic advising
mechanism. A comparison of the responses of male and
female students exhibited significant difference in
providing the right academic information to the students,
whereas the other two responses did not depict any
significant difference (P<0.05).
As for the factor of Learning Resources and other
Support Services, the results showed a significant effect on
students' achievement (F (16,152) = 2.45 at α=0.05). Students
were significantly concerned about the functionality of
equipment in the laboratories as well as in the clinics with
mean score values of 2.67±0.087 and 2.89±0.076
respectively (Table-5). Likewise, responses toward the
availability of appropriate parking, health and fitness centre,
imaging services, nutritious food availability and
accommodation facilities were scored very low with mean
values of 1.733±0.077, 1.615±0.081,1.994±0.090,
Vol. 62, No. 8, August 2012 819
Table-4: Comparison of mean responses of male and female students regarding the impact of Academic Advising.
No Question DetailMean ± SD t-test Probability
27The academic advisors provide students with the right information they need2.92±1.21 -2.16**0.032
28The academic advisor is always ready to help students 3.065±1.23-1.15 N.S0.250
29 The academic advisor is available during office hours for academic counseling 2.92±1.049 -0.47N.S0.632
N.S=Non-Significant ** Significant at P<0.05.
Table-5: Comparison of mean responses of male and female students regarding the impact of Learning Resources/Student Support Services.
NoQuestion Detail Mean ± SDt-testProbability
30Laboratories equipments are working well2.66±1.13-0.48 N.S.0.631
31The clinics system and equipments work well2.89±0.991.58 N.S.0.114
32Lecture rooms are suitable for students3.69±1.061.11 N.S.0.266
33Students find enough time to spend in the library3.02±1.21-6.39**1.51E-09
34Reference books are available for the students in the library2.82±1.18-5.911.8E-08
35 Reference books are available for sale in the book bank2.14±1.093.28**0.001
36Imaging Center services are always available1.99±1.170.46 N.S.0.639
37Computer services are available to students2.37±1.19-5.22**5.14E-07
38Healthy/ nutritious food is available to the students2.05±1.20-1.29 N.S. 0.196
39 Prayers place is available to the students3.48±1.53 7.39** 6.62E-12
40Rest area is suitable and available for students2.28±1.39-3.15**0.0019
41 The wash rooms are clean and hygienic2.24±1.36 3.069**0.002
42Appropriate transportation facility is available to students 2.12±1.20-4.01**8.9E-05
43Appropriate parking is available1.73±1.00 -2.46**0.014
44 A well-equipped gym is available for students1.61±1.054.75**4.26E-06
45 The hostel accommodation is appropriate2.27±1.151.02 N.S.0.310
N.S.= Non-Significant ** Significant at P<0.05.
2.053±0.092 and 2.278±0.088 respectively. Among the 16
aspects under this factor, students were found comparatively
satisfied with the environment of classrooms (3.69±0.082),
time available for availing library resources (3.023±0.093)
and prayer space (3.485±0.118). However, the mean overall
score for this factor was 2.802±0.091. Furthermore,
comparison of the responses of male and female students
exhibited significant differences between the two campuses
in terms of the availability of library resources, computers
and network facilities, prayer place, rest areas, car parking
and gym facilities.
The study looked at four key areas of the existing
BDS programme: curriculum, role of faculty, academic
advising, learning resources and student support services, and
their impact on the performance of undergraduate students.
The participation of students in the study was promising
(40.5%). Their feedback demanded drastic changes in course
material, methods of teaching and faculty-to-students ratio.
Regression analyses revealed highly significant impact of
some factors on students' CGPA, which was considered in the
present study as an indication for academic achievement.17
The students' overall score for curriculum and course
material (3.22+0.077) did not reach the satisfaction level of
80%. This necessitates revision of curriculum as well as
testing and teaching techniques aiming to enhance skills and
practical knowledge of dental students. Though there is no
published data showing the correlation between the
curriculum and students' achievement in the Middle East, our
findings are in line with those of Alzahem et al.18They
suggested that modification in the curriculum is vital to
produce better dentists as well as to reduce mental stress on
undergraduates. Hence, careful work on sequencing and
coordinating topics and instruction around science reform
themes is related to improved students' achievement. For
instance, a study conducted at Harvard School of Dental
Medicine urged partial revision in the curriculum with more
emphasis on additional coursework in practice
management.15Another example is from South Africa where
research component was incorporated in the curriculum of
undergraduate dental students to equip them with the skills
relating to practical aspects of dentistry.19Furthermore,
Wishnick20found that good alignment between CRT
(criterion-referenced tests) and NRST (norm-referenced
standardised tests) contribute more than 36% variation in
performance of the students. Our study, therefore,
recommends that the faculty must seek students' feedback
periodically and consider their responses relating to the
curriculum, teaching tactics, evaluation methods and
articulation of latest research in lectures.
Although students were mostly found satisfied with
the faculty, but the overall score for faculty performance
(3.48+0.072) was below the satisfactory level of 80%. The
college highly qualified and well-experienced faculty
members who have graduated from recognised institutions
from all over the world. The apparent deficiency could
probably be due to the multifarious role of faculty in the
college; being teacher, clinical instructor, clinician,
researcher, research supervisor, academic advisor,
administrator and member in different committees.
The faculty should initiate self-assessment and
improve their communication and contact with the students
for optimising their role. The present finding is in conformity
with previous study by Lietz and Matthews.21Such studies
have depicted that strong and continuous communication
with the faculty for seeking advice in relation to academics
and research exerts positive impact on the learning outcomes,
particularly for the senior students.22Teacher`s effectiveness
is one of the most important factors that contribute a lot in the
students` achievement and often overcomes other factors
such as class strength, gender as well as socioeconomic status
of students.13,14A recent study carried out at the College of
Dentistry has revealed that foreign trained faculty placed
significantly higher values on a programme's reputation and
research opportunities.22Our findings suggest that the school
administration should facilitate the faculty to improve their
knowledge pertaining to the latest advancements in
educational methodologies as well as clinical and research
skills in their fields of specialisation. Equipping the faculty
with the latest knowledge and skills has become a vital
component of medical and dental education, and is even
considered more important than improving lecture halls,
laboratories and clinics.
The students were clearly dissatisfied with the
available mechanism of academic advising at the college
(3.00+0.086). Factually, advisors do exert significant impact
on the performance of students.23The academic advising
process is mainly expressed in terms of roles such as advisor,
partner, evaluator and trainer.24The low score recorded in the
study reveals that although advisors may have a great
potential to accomplish this task, sometimes they do not
perform this job as they should. This leads to poor students'
performance.25Literature reveals that the students' CGPA is
greatly influenced by the advisors' contact, communication
intensity and membership in campus organisation though the
impact of faculty contact significantly varied between the
male and female students.26Certainly, academic advising has
a massive potential for improvement in the college.
The support services and learning resources had the
lowest mean score among the four factors (2.465+0.091).
Both male and female students were dissatisfied with the
support. This is because campuses are located in small and
820J Pak Med Assoc
congested areas with too little space to meet the demands of
the increasing number of students. However, this and other
such issues are likely to be resolved with the completion of
the new dental hospital and female students' campus in a
couple of years. These new projects are going to be equipped
with libraries, smart rooms, computer labs, specialized
clinics, restaurants, recreation areas and new parking. All
these areas seem to have universal applications as reported in
The outcome of the present study should serve as
guiding baseline data to help the academicians,
administrators and policy-makers in raising competent
professionals in the field of dentistry.
Within the limitations of the present study, it does
show that faculty and learning resources significantly
influence students' performance. However, the curriculum
and academic advising had non-significant effect on
performance in the present study. Besides, there were
significant variations in responses of male and female
students in relation to all the four factors, particularly in
relation to learning resources. A self-assessment process
should be adopted at the college for all students at all levels
on a regular basis to monitor performance of each educational
factor. Changes incorporated in the light of such a feedback is
likely to have a positive impact on the performance level of
The authors would like to thank Mr. Nasr Al-Meflhi
for his assistance in data collection and statistical analysis.
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