I was very interested in a report of a Tertiary eLearning research fund project 2005 which looked at learner profiles - learning styles and preferences of students for elearning. Samuel Mann was on the research team and you may have seen the questionnaire. i have requested a copy of the questionnaire on CD from the lead researcher.
Jeffrey, L. Atkins, C. Laurs, A. & Mann, S. (2005). eLearner profiles: Diversity in Learning. Ministry of Education, TeLRF project report. Available at: http://cms.steo.govt.nz/eLearning/Projects/Tertiary+eLearning+Research+Fund.htm you need to scroll down the page.
What I liked about this research report is the comparison between student preferences for traditional lectures, tutorials and blended forms of online and f2f learning. You may find that these findings mirror some of the feedback you may be getting from your students about online learning. For example, they do not particularly want to be self-directed and do group work. They want lectures and are not particularly keen on online learning which can cause them a lot of anxiety. This is a NZ-based project
"The sample size was 1811 and came from six universities, five polytechnics or institutes and six private training organisations."
Also the researchers categorised the learner profiles as: cognitive voyagers, strategic competitors and multimedia collaborators. If you read the executive summary of the report you will get the gist of the different profiles.
The researchers measured things such as extrinsic and intrinsic motivation, learning styles, dependent versus independent learning preferences, achievement motivation, relativistic reasoning rather than factual,working collaboratively rather than alone, time poorness, global versus sequential learning and reflective versus analytical and much more. It is a fascinating study. I hope you will take a look. Do you believe that this is the same situation for your students.