This research investigated the significance of learning dispositif (LD) and emotional attachment (EA) on perceived learning success (LS) across a diaspora of Western, Russian, Asian, Middle Eastern and Chinese student cohorts. Foucault’s LD captures the disparate socio-cultural contexts, institutional milieus and more or less didactic teaching styles that moderate learning. EA is a multi-dimensional notion involving affective bonds that emerged in child psychology and spread to marketing and other fields. The sequential explanatory research reviewed the learning and EA literatures and generated an LD–EA framework to structure the quantitative phase of its mixed investigations. In 2017 and 2018, the research collected 150 responses and used a range of statistical techniques for quantitative analysis. It found that LS varied significantly across cohorts, intimating that dispositifs influence learning. Nonparametric analysis suggested that EA also influenced learning, but regressions were inconclusive. Exploratory techniques hint at a dynamic mix of emotional or cognitive motivations during the student learning journey, involving structural breaks in student/instructor relationships. Cluster analysis identified distinct student groupings, linked to years of learning. Separately, qualitative analysis of open-ended survey questions and expert interviews intimates that frequent teacher interactions can increase EA. The synthesis of quantitative with qualitative results and pedagogical reflection suggests that LD and EA both influence learning in a complex, dynamic system. The key constituents for EA are Affection, Connection, Social Presence (SP), Teaching Presence (TP) and Flow but student emotional engagement is conditioned by the socio-cultural milieu (LD) and associated factors like relationships and trust. Unlike in the Community of Learning framework, in the EA framework Cognitive Presence (CP) is an outcome of the interaction between these EA constituents, associated factors and the socio-cultural milieu. Finally, whilst awareness of culture and emotions is a useful pedagogical consideration, learning mainstays remain inclusive educational systems that identify student needs and support well-designed programmes. Within these, scaffolded modules should include a variety of engaging learning activities with non-threatening formative and trustworthy summative feedback. We acknowledge some statistical study limitations, but its tentative findings make a useful preliminary contribution.
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