The Retention Center

The Retention Center enables you to set up alerts and to gather information about students’ activities on your Blackboard module. Depending on the rules you create, it is possible to have a quick overview of any high or low marks, the  levels of access to learning activities or to missed deadlines.  From the Retention Center, it is also possible to email students, if you wish to follow up on alerts.

The information in the Retention Center is for instructors only and is not seen by your students. The Retention Center replaces the Early Warning System feature (but maintains any data and rules you may have already set up.

Important information and recommendations on the use of the Retention Center

SCOPE The Retention Center functions with Blackboard content, Blackboard Assignment and Blackboard Tests and Survey tools. However it is important to note that currently Retention Center does not create alerts or collate information from tools such as  from Turnitin links.  This is because these tools are not integrated into Blackboard.

If you want to monitor deadlines, submissions for assignments which have been submitted through Turnitin in the Retention Center, one workaround is to ensure that a Column has been created in the GradeCentre for that specific item. Unfortunately, there is a known issue that this can cause false alerts while marking is being carried out (ie from the Due date for the assignment).

IMPORTANCE OF A TEAM APPROACH: A team approach is important because there is one Retention Center for the module. If the settings are changed by one instructor on the module, these new settings are visible for all instructors on the module.

If you use Blackboard Global Navigation to select the option to ‘Stop tracking this course’, this makes the tracking of the Retention Center unavailable for all instructors to view on that same BB module. So it needs careful consideration, planning and communication between staff on a BB module if they wish to use.


The Retention Center may be particularly useful where the majority of student contact with their tutor and module content is via Blackboard, for example, in distance or work-based learning scenarios.  Similarly, it will be useful if students need to complete regular formative or summative tests or read specific content assignments as they progress.

The Retention Center may be useful for modules or programmes that have a high number of students.  However, because the rules for alerts need to be set up manually, it is very important that all tutors are aware of the rules and what the alerts indicate.

To activate the Retention Center

Go to Control Panel in your Blackboard module, click Properties, Customisation, Tool Availability.

RC_Tool availability

Scroll down the list of Tools, select Retention Center, then click Submit.  The Retention Center is now activated and it will be displayed in the Control Panel, under Evaluation.


Customize the Retention Center

One of the purposes of the RC is so that tutors can easily identity if any students need your help Contact the most at-risk students immediately and flag those you want to monitor closely. As you observe their progress and send emails, you can also keep track of this correspondence and make notes about each student right in the Retention Center.

The Retention Center provides an easy way for you to discover which students in your course are at risk. You can communicate with struggling students and help them take immediate action for improvement. You can also keep track of patterns over time.

Tailor the default rules to suit your teaching methodologies: Change the threshold for due dates to be more lenient; Create two or three new rules to track specific items that are good indicators of risk; Create rules to let you know which students are in the top five percent of your class and reward their work..

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.

How to Create Rules in Retention Center

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 or percentage on each test.

On the Retention Center page, click Customize at the top-right on the action bar.

On the Customize Retention Center page, point to Create Rule on the action bar and select one of the four rule types.

RC_four rules

You can click the More Help link at any time as a reminder of the detail of the criteria.

Course Activity Rule: Alert is based on students’ overall activity within your course. Blackboard measures the time a student works in a course using the data generated from his clicks. Students who are below a defined level of activity trigger the alert. No weighting of clicks is assigned to any areas. Adaptive rules are not taken into account.

Grade Rule: Alert 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 Rule: 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 Deadlines Rule: Alert 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 Thanor 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. 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.

The Retention Center notification Displays & Risk Table

The main table displays which students are at risk in one or more of four categories. When you access the Retention Center, the data is refreshed. By default, the data for the course activity rule is recorded once a day. You can sort columns by clicking the heading title. The table is sorted by most at-risk students and then alphabetically.

Click Customize on the action bar to edit the rule’s name or criteria, and determine whether or not it appears in the risk table.

Click the coloured bar preceding the table to display a summary of the at-risk students in your module.

Click a coloured section to access more information. For example, in a grade alert box, you can click the displayed number to access a list of students triggering the alert.

RC_Risk table

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.

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.

Click students’ names to access their Retention Status pages. View their risk factors and the notification emails you have sent, along with any private notes you have made.

When you delete a rule, all your data remains intact. If no rules exist in a category, the default rule and criteria are added. You can use the rule as is or edit it.

You can create new rules, edit existing rules, and delete rules by clicking Customize on the action bar. You can create as many rules as you need.

On the 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.

When your system is updated to include the Retention Center, all existing Early Warning System rules are retained. These rules appear in the Other information you are monitoring section. You can edit these rules and determine whether or not to include them in your risk table.

Deleting Rules and Restoring Default Rules

When you delete a rule, all your course content and data remains intact. If you no longer want the Retention Center to create alerts, it is recommended that you deactivate the Retention Centre for that module in Blackboard. If you do not de-activate the Retention Centre, the rules will automatically revert to the default rules.

To de-activate the Retention Centre go to Control Panel>Customise>Tools. Then scroll down to deselect Retention Centre. Once deactivated, the Retention Center is no longer displayed in Control Panel>Evaluation.


Your Course Activity

The section following the risk table provides a personalised one-stop collection of your activity, engagement, and participation in your course. This data helps you become more aware of your behaviors.

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. Colleagues cannot view this same information, only their own activity.

You can view the following information including Your last login, Time lag for grading student submissions, and 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.

RC_yourcourse activity

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