Canvas course analytics and messaging can help with retention

Jul 7, 2017 | Faculty, Staff, and Student Stories

bill egan

By Bill Egan

Student retention is an ongoing goal across the University. Canvas has many integrated tools and features that can be leveraged to help efficiently identify and easily communicate to inactive students within courses with the hope that it may motivate those students and help with retention. Canvas offers course analytics and gradebook messaging that can be used by faculty to identify students with low or no participation in courses.

These features can be used for any course in Canvas, but depending upon course design and format, may be especially useful in online courses.

Course Analytics

The Course Analytics dashboard gives you a macro view of the course’s analytics. “View Course Analytics” can be accessed from the course homepage under Course Status.

screenshot showing where to find course analytics option under course status

By default, the activity is displayed graphically, but by toggling the provided switch, you can change the display to a table view.

screenshot showing the toggle button needed to change the display

At the bottom of a page you will see a list of students with their activity. An instructor can easily use this snapshot to identify students that meet their particular criteria for inactivity. This list is also sortable by the various columns for an even easier look at those with highest and lowest participation.

screenshot showing course statistics for each student

By clicking on a student’s name, the instructor has the ability to dive deeper into the particular statistics and activity of the particular student. By clicking on the mail icon next to the student’s name, the instructor can easily message the student in an attempt to open the dialogue and provide assistance around their recent lack of participation in the course.

Screenshot showing current total percentage for one student

Having access to these analytics can allow an instructor to proactively identify students who may be at risk in an effort to help mitigate the potential dropping of a course. Instructors can then use the Starfish suite of academic advising tools or notify the appropriate advisors to assist in the process.

Learn how to view course analytics in the Canvas Community.

Gradebook Messaging

Oftentimes, the gradebook is the first place that instructors start to identify patterns of student inactivity. When they find that for the last few assignments that zeros are being added, it may be a red flag that needs attention, especially during the first few weeks of the semester. Canvas allows you to quickly email students who have not submitted an assignment.

From the gradebook, use the drop-down arrow from a particular assignment to select the “Message Students Who…” option.

screenshot showing options under a dropdown menu in assignments

There are a few options to choose from which opens up the possibilities of how this feature can be used. You could use it to remind students to submit on time, as a way to offer remediation or feedback to students who struggled on an assignment, and much more.

screenshot showing choices for student groups to message

Visit the Canvas Community to learn how to send a message to students using the Gradebook.

These are a few strategies that can be used to proactively address retention in our courses. Leverage the tools and features of the LMS to identify students early and to work with the appropriate systems and advisors in place to help mitigate any issues. Ensuring that students get started in a course and are engaged early in the semester can make a big difference in their ability to keep up and be successful.

What other strategies do you have to help with retention?