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Topic Overview

The Retention Center provides an easy way for instructors to discover which students in your course are at risk. Based on preconfigured rules as well as rules you create, students' engagement and participation are visually displayed, quickly alerting you to potential risk. From the Retention Center, you can communicate with struggling students and help them take immediate action for improvement.

Default Retention Center Rules

  • Default Activity Rule
    • Course activity in the last 1 week is 20% below course average
  • Default Course Access Rule
    • Last access more than 5 days ago
  • Default Grade Rule
    • External grade is 25% below class average
  • Default Missed Deadline Rule
    • 1 deadline has been missed by more than 0 days

Access the Retention Center

The Retention Center is automatically on and immediately visible in your My Blackboard menu, and also accessible in the Evaluation section of a course's Control Panel. The information in the Retention Center is for instructors only and is not seen by your students.

Retention Center in My Blackboard Menu and Course Tools

The Retention Center Page

Click the colored bar preceding the table to display a summary of the at-risk students in your course. Click a colored section to access more information. You can drill in further by clicking links in the pop-up boxes. For example, in a grade alert box, you can click the displayed number to access a list of students triggering the alert.

Retention Center Example

Note that you can access students and their observers from the Notify drop-down list from more than one spot in the tool. Observers are typically assigned to follow specific users in Blackboard Learn without interacting with the system, such as parents or counselors. Observers are able to view the course and track student progress.

Notification Option Menu

Email notifications you send have a default subject and message that you can edit. If you are sending an email to more than one recipient, the list is not 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
  • Grades
  • Course Activity
  • Course Access

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

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

Sort columns by clicking the heading title. The table is sorted by most at-risk students and then alphabetically.

Click 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.


Retention Center Example

Monitoring Individual Students

Clicking a student's name will bring you to their individual Retention Status pages. View their risk factors and the notification emails you have sent, along with your private notes about an individual student.

  1. Access the Retention Center.
  2. Click on the name of the student you wish to monitor.
    Retention Center Student List Overview
  3. Click Monitor directly below the student's name.
    Monitor Student Option
  4. The star in the Monitor box will turn yellow if successful.
    Monitor Star Indicator
  5. Risk factors for students you are monitoring will appear on the right-hand side of the Retention Center next to the Risk Table.
  6. When students are selected for individual monitoring, information will be provided regardless of whether or not they meet the risk factors criteria.

Right Side Panel

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

  • Students you are monitoring: Click a red dot indicator in the risk table to view a student's specific alert information. Then, click 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 does not relate to risk, or for participation that you only need to monitor occasionally.

Your Course Activity

The section following the risk table provides a one-stop collection of your activity, engagement, and participation in your course. This data helps you become more aware of how your behaviors are (or are not) contributing to student success.

If you teach a course with another instructor, this area is directed specifically to the instructor who is logged in and viewing his or her own individualized activity, such as responding to students using the interactive tools. This area is intended to give the individual instructor some insight into how his or her activity in the course may affect student risk factors. Your colleagues cannot view this same information, only their own activity.

The information provided includes:

  • Your last login
  • Time lag for grading student submissions
  • Your participation in the interactive components of your course. For example, the numbers appearing for blogs shows how many times you have posted, not your students or co-instructors.
  • Recent announcements
  • Fresh course content

    Single Student Activity Report

This information is only for you, and other users cannot access it. Each time you enter your course, you can use it to determine which course areas require your attention.

The links in this section allow you to quickly take appropriate action to further engage your students. For example, click an assignment link to begin grading and provide feedback. You can easily access communication tools to interact with students or post an announcement.

Customize the Retention Center

You can use the four default rules to begin receiving alerts about how your students are doing in your course. Edit the rules as necessary to customize them for your content and expectations. When you create or edit rules, you determine which appear in the risk table on the Retention Center page.

  • Include in Risk Table: The rule appears in the risk table which 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. Return to the Customize page if you want to include the rule in the risk table.

Creating Rules

You can create as many rules as you want. For example, you can create individual grade rules that alert you when students score below a certain point value on each test. Next, you can create a grade rule that alerts you if a student's total grade for your course falls to a certain percentage.

  1. Access the Retention Center page.
  2. Click on Customize.
    Retention Center Customize Option
  3. Click Create Rule and select the type of rule you want to create.
    Create Rule Menu 
  4. On the Customize Retention Center page, point to Create Rule on the action bar and select one of the four rule types described in the following table:

    Rule TypeDescription
    Course ActivityAlert 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 using the data generated from his "clicks." A student is assumed to be working with a course from the time he clicks on something in the course until the time he clicks 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 is not counted between the last click within the course and the timeout.

    No weighting of clicks is assigned to any areas.

    Adaptive rules are not taken into account.

    GradeAlert is based on a defined score for any grade or calculated column in the Grade Center. Students who score above or below the defined threshold for a specific grade item trigger an alert. Determine when a grade triggers an alert:
    • Set Grade Value: Use the drop-down lists to select above or below -AND- points or percentage. Type a value in the field.
    • Use Average Grades: Type the percentage in the field and select above or below the average grade from the drop-down list.
    Course Access Alert is based on the date users last accessed your course. Students who have not logged in for a defined number of days trigger an alert.
    Missed DeadlineAlert is based on a defined due date for an assignment, test, or survey. Students who do not 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. From the drop-down list, select More Than or Less Than the number of days you chose.
    • Monitor Specific Deadline: Make a selection in the Select Course Item drop-down list. The due date for each item appears in parentheses. Then, select More Than or Less Than from the drop-down list and type the number of days to trigger an alert.

      Note:   If you enter zero (0) for how many days, you are asking to be alerted if an item was not submitted before or on the deadline. No lateness is acceptable.

  5. Specify the Rule Information:
    1. Select Yes or No to include the rule in the Risk Table.
      1. If the rule IS included in the Risk Table, it will be included in the appropriate Rule Type column.
        Rule Type Column
      2. If the rule IS NOT included in the Risk Table, it will appear on the main Retention Center page under Other Information You Are Monitoring.
        Other Information You Are Monitoring
  6. Select the Rule Criteria.
  7. Click Submit.



You can create missed deadline rules for Grade Center columns you create manually, but if you do not grade 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 grade them by the due date. 

Editing Rules

  1. Access the Retention Center page
  2. Click on Customize
    Retention Center Customize Option
  3. Hover over the name of the rule and click on the drop-down arrow to the right of the rule name. Click Edit.
  4. Edit the rule as needed.

Deleting Rules and Restoring Defaults

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 Center page and click Use Defaults? in the appropriate column heading. The default rule and criteria are added. You can use the rule as is or edit it.

Retention Center Use Default Rules Option

The Transition from the Early Warning System

All existing Early Warning System rules are retained when your system is updated to include the Retention Center. These rules appear in the Other information you are monitoring section. Instructors can edit these rules and determine whether or not to include them in their risk tables.

The transition from the Early Warning System to the Retention Center includes the prior notifications history that might need to be retained as part of course records. Note that the Early Warning System included less information in the notification history than what is included in the Retention Center, but records that are transitioned include notification date, sender, and student recipient.

Sources and Relevant Links

Using the Retention Center
Retention Center (Video)