From the Dean's Office


Interview by Dr David CL Lim (
with AP Dr Arifin Haji Zainal, Dean of the Faculty of Applied Social Sciences, OUM

Dr. David : Please tell us something about your academic background and your experience so far as Dean of the Faculty of Applied Social Sciences (FASS), OUM.

Dr. Ariffin : I obtained my B.A. (Hons.) degree from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) in 1976. After that, I immediately did my Master's and got a M.A in industrial and organizational psychology from Western Michigan University, USA, in 1978. Finally, in 1994 I received my PhD in the same field, from University of Wales, Swansea, UK. I was with UKM from 1976 to 2010. I started as a tutor and ended my tenure as an associate professor. I held various administrative posts during my service at UKM, such as Deputy Director of UKM's Distance Learning Centre, Head of Programme, and Chair of the School of Psychology and Human Development.

I joined OUM in late 2010 as a contract associate professor and by January 2011, I was appointed as Dean of the FASS.

Dr. David : What are the key programmes offered by the FASS and what new programmes will be offered in the near future?

Dr. Ariffin : Currently, the FASS offers seven programmes, i.e., Diploma in Islamic Studies with Education; Bachelor's degrees in Communication, Islamic Studies (Islamic Management), Political Science and Psychology, as well as Master's degrees in Islamic Studies (Islamic Management) and Counselling. Our future plan is to offer Bachelor's degrees in Malay Studies and Liberal Studies.

Dr. David : Deep learning is something that is relevant to all disciplines. Still, do you think it is particularly crucial to the social sciences in contrast to other disciplines such as engineering and language? Why?

Dr. Ariffin : Yes, deep learning is relevant to all disciplines including the social sciences. It is important for learners in social sciences to apply deep learning in their work as well as in other areas. I believe it can do wonders to improve their skills and confidence.

Dr. David : Can you give us an example or two on what might happen if and when a learner in the social sciences fails to actualize deep learning, and can only regurgitate bits of facts in the work context?

Dr. Ariffin : Those who fail to actualize deep learning will probably have difficulty in applying their knowledge. In other words, learners need to put theory into practice. With deep learning, learners would be able to adjust and modify their knowledge according to what is appropriate for a specific environment.

Dr. David : How is the FASS actively promoting deep learning in the programmes it offers? What new plans can we look forward to from the FASS?

Dr. Ariffin : In my opinion, the role of promoting deep learning does not depend on the faculty alone. We rely on other departments and units at OUM, such as the Centre for Instructional Design and Technology (CIDT), the Institute of Teaching and Learning Advancement (ITLA) and the Institute of Quality, Research and Innovation (IQRI) to embed deep learning in the different components of our programmes. However, the FASS as the faculty will always strive to give our full co-operation and support to everyone at OUM to promote deep learning.

The FASS plans to organize road shows to meet current and potential learners. Also, the faculty plans to develop more Bachelor's degree programmes with different combinations of major and minor courses.

Dr. David : What words of advice would you like to offer to tutors teaching courses from the FASS?

Dr. Ariffin : Tutors play a vital role in the ODL system. It is important for tutors to be committed in addition to having the right knowledge and experience. It would be beneficial to all if there were a stronger faculty-tutor relationship.

[ Back ]