Habitus profiles as indicators of Brunei students’ dispositions towards learning in online learning systems

  • Pengiran Haji Shaiff Omarali

Student thesis: Phd


This PhD research investigates the significance of learners’ profiles on the implementation of online learning systems. Using Brunei Darussalam as its research context where online learning implementation is at its infancy and with 73.7% of its young population having been identified as ‘digital natives’, this research explores the diversity in the student population based on their dispositions and how these dispositions influence their learning effectiveness. A series of systematic literature reviews on preceding student-profiling practices and three pilot studies precursory to this research suggested that the learner population comprise of multidimensional and heterogeneous individuals whose dispositions interplay and dynamically change. Utilising Pierre Bourdieu’s theory of practice as an all-encompassing theoretical framework, 407 learners from the Brunei technical vocational education student population were holistically profiled into different learner types. The research adapted a sequential transformative mixed-method design with its data collection methods comprising of a self-designed quantitative questionnaire called the Online Learner Profiling questionnaire and a sequential series of qualitative interviews. Data from the questionnaire was analysed using Exploratory Factor Analysis that identified 7 possible habitus types and several variant types based on a 6-factor model. Subsequently, data from the interviews was inductively and deductively analysed through a Two-Cycle Coding Method that established the differences between habitus types as well as similarities between members of the same type. Abductive inferencing generated detailed descriptions of the 7 main habitus types based on their dispositions and the probable online learning tools, approaches and affordances that can be incorporated in online learning systems to complement their dispositions. The research discourse extends to a hypothetical projection that there are 64 possible habitus types. Collectively this theory has been given the name the Habitus Lattice Theory due to the habitus types interconnecting into a lattice. The profiling of students is anticipated to prepare educators and policy-makers in the implementation of online learning systems revolving around the issues of ‘hysteresis’ whereby online learning systems do not complement students’ dispositions; the relevance of ‘conatus’ whereby students dynamically move from one habitus type to another; and the reduction of ‘doxa’ which are predetermined and oftentimes conjectural perceptions of who the online students are. Ultimately, the utilisation of Bourdieu’s theory as a profiling mechanism provides a more holistic and possibly novel alternative to the many existing learning models and inventories that are used in understanding students’ learning preferences.
Date of Award31 Dec 2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorGary Motteram (Supervisor) & Susan Brown (Supervisor)


  • online learning
  • online learner profiling
  • Bourdieu's theory
  • habitus
  • dispositions

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