The purpose of this paper was to examine and assess the current state of Personal Learning Environments (PLEs) of junior and senior engineering students at Universidad de las Américas Puebla (UDLAP). A survey (completely voluntary) was designed to elicit students’ PLEs. After pilot testing it with 42 students from a variety of engineering majors, the instrument was refined. The enhanced survey yielded 98 suitable responses (including in-depth interviews) from Food, Industrial, Chemical, Logistics, Civil, Mechanical, and Computer Systems engineering students. Furthermore, to strengthen understanding of their PLEs, mappings were conducted through infographics, in which selected students (n=28) represented and explained their own PLEs, describing relevant formal and informal learning activities that they usually perform by means of his/her PLE.
Results confirmed the influence of technological tools in learning experiences of engineering students and the cognitive skills they have developed during their formal education. Students emphasized that with the use of technology they acquired new skills to communicate and that they have more control over assignments. Through mapping of their PLEs, engineering students recognized their personal learning processes, as an exercise of metacognition. Triangulation of information (survey results, in-depth interviews, and mappings) allowed us to have a more comprehensive view of our engineering students’ PLEs. One particular feature frequently mentioned of PLEs is that students can configure and assemble them depending on their needs and with tools they are already using. Social networking enabled engineering students to build genuine learning communities. Studied PLEs helped engineering students to make visible for them how to take control of as well as manage their own learning. Analysis of PLEs revealed their potential to address the needs of engineering students for multi-sourced content and easily customizable learning environments.
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