Information Services

Learn Retention Centre

Helps you discover which students in your course may be having difficulties

The Retention Centre helps you analyse which students in your course may require support. Based on default rules, and rules you create, students' engagement and participation are visually displayed. From the Retention Centre, you can also communicate directly with students.

This Retention Centre video explains how to monitor and contact students, view and modify default rules for alerts, and create new rules.

How to Access the Retention Centre

The Retention Centre is automatically on and accessible from the Course Management section via Control Panel > Evaluation > Retention Centre . The information in the Retention Centre is for instructors only and is not seen by your students.

The Retention Centre page

Select the coloured bar above the table of students to display a summary of the at-risk students in your course. Select a coloured section to access more information. Select links in the pop-up boxes to drill in further. For example, in a mark alert box, you can select the displayed number to access a list of students who trigger the alert.

Note that you can access students and observers from the Notify menu from more than one spot in the tool. Observers don't interact with the system but are able to view the course and track student progress.

Email notifications you send have a default subject and message that you can edit. If you're sending an email to more than one recipient, the list isn't revealed to the group.

At-risk table

The main table displays which students are at risk in one or more of four categories:

  • Missed Deadlines
  • Marks
  • Course Activity
  • Course Access

You can create as many rules as you need in each category.

When you access the Retention Centre, the data is refreshed. However, the data for the course activity rule is recorded once a day.

The table is sorted by most at-risk students and then alphabetically. Select a column heading to sort the column's contents.

Select the red dot indicator in a student's cell for more information, to include the student in the monitoring section in the right panel, or to send an email.

Select students' names to access their Retention Status pages. View their risk factors and the notification emails you've sent. You can also add private notes about an individual student:

Select Customise to create new rules, edit existing rules, and delete rules. You can create as many rules as you need.

Right side panel

In the right side panel, you can view two types of information:

  • Students you are monitoring: Select a red dot indicator in the risk table to view a student's specific alert information. Then, select the star icon to place the student's information in this panel. This list allows you to easily check on the students who are most at risk in your course.
  • Other information you are monitoring: All rules you exclude from the risk table appear here. For example, you can create a rule to display those users doing well in your course, for activity that doesn't relate to risk, or for participation that you only need to monitor occasionally.

Your course activity

The section after the risk table provides a one-stop collection of your activity, engagement, and participation in your course.

 This area is directed specifically to the instructor who is logged in and viewing his or her own individualised activity, such as responding to students using the interactive tools. Any other instructors on the course can't view this information, only their own activity.

You can view this information:

  • Your last login
  • Assessment: Time lag for marking submissions
  • Interaction and Collaboration: Your participation in the interactive components of your course
  • Learner Support: Recent announcements
  • Course Design: New course content

The links in this section also allow you to quickly take appropriate action. For example, you can access communication tools or post an announcement.

Customise the Retention Centre

You can use the four default rules to receive alerts about how students perform. but you may also edit the rules to customise them for your content and expectations. When you create or edit rules, you decide which appear in the risk table on the Retention Centre page.

  • Include in Risk Table: The rule appears in the risk table that displays an alert for each student meeting the rule's criteria.
  • Exclude From Risk Table: The rule appears in the right panel in the Other information you are monitoring section.

Create rules

You can create as many rules as you want.

  1. On the Retention Centre page, select Customise.
  2. On the Customise Retention Centre page, select Create Rule and select one of the four rule types described below:

Course Activity

Alert is based on students' overall activity within your course. Students who are below a defined level of activity trigger the alert. Blackboard measures the time a student works in a course with the data generated from their "clicks." Students are assumed to be working with a course from the time they click something in the course until the time they click something outside the course or logs out. If a login session is timed out, Blackboard only counts the time until the last click within the course. The time isn't counted between the last click within the course and the timeout. No weighting of clicks is assigned to any areas. Adaptive release rules aren't taken into account.


Alert is based on a defined score for any mark or calculated column in the Grade Centre. Students who score above or below the defined threshold for a specific mark  trigger an alert.

Determine the criteria for when a mark triggers an alert:

  • Set Mark Value: Use the menus to select above or below and points or percentage.
  • Use Average Marks: Type the percentage and select above or below the average mark from the menu.

Course Access

Alert is based on the date users last accessed your course. Students who haven't logged in for a defined number of days trigger an alert.

Missed Deadline

Alert is based on a defined due date for an assignment, test, or survey. Students who don't complete an assignment, test, or survey by the due date trigger an alert based on the option you choose:

  • Monitor all course deadlines: Determine how many deadlines must be missed and by how many days before an alert is triggered.
  • Monitor Specific Deadline: Make a selection in the Select Course Item menu. The due date for each item appears in parentheses. Then, select More Than or Less Than from the menu and type the number of days to trigger an alert

If you enter zero (0) for how many days, you will be alerted if an item wasn't submitted before or on the deadline. No lateness is acceptable.

Note: You can create missed deadline rules for Grade Centre columns you create manually, but if you don't mark properly submitted items by the due date, a "false" alert is triggered. For manually created columns, students can submit items by the due date, but you must also mark them by the due date.

Delete rules and restore default rules

When you delete a rule, all your course content and data remains intact.

If no rules exist in a category, return to the main Retention Centre page and select Use Defaults? in the column heading. The default rule and criteria are added. You can use the rule as is or edit it.